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Lessons from Aidan (Part One)

I had the honor of meeting Aidan Mackey in England a few weeks ago when I was in England. I had never heard of him before, but I learned quickly that he is regarded as the foremost scholar on G.K. Chesterton - a Christian hero of mine.

Aidan did not claim such an honor for himself. He was adamant that he was neither a scholar nor an academic in the proper sense. But, he was, after all, president of the G.K. Chesterton Study Centre and if the British Library entrusts you with eight boxes of the renowned Chesterton’s personal belongings, you’re a scholar – proper or not.

Aidan served in the British Air Force during World War II. He said he was stationed in Africa because it was where they believed he would do the least damage. After the war he spent most of his career as a teacher and headmaster. He had seven daughters and speaks of them with warmth and pride and delightful British humor. He told us that when a young man asked his blessing for his daughter’s hand in marriage, Aidan said, “I would love to give my daughter to you in marriage, but I need to know that you can provide for a family. After all, there are nine of us.”

When we asked how he came to be the foremost scholar on G.K. Chesterton, he, again, denied it and gave the humblest answer I could have imagined.

“There have been many unfair things that have happened in my life.” he said, “Mostly to my benefit.”

Aidan takes no credit whatever.

He isn’t suffering from low self-esteem. He’s embracing self-forgetfulness.

When I think about the unfair things in my life, I focus on things that have not been to my benefit. I’m happy to take personal credit for those things that were to my benefit.

But, the credit for any success I've enjoyed (if there is any) is not mine to take.

Every good thing I have has been given to me by God.

I can decide what I do with what I’ve been given, but I can’t take credit for the good things I’ve been given.

I could use a little more self-forgetfulness.

I could do to express gratitude for the graciously unfair things that God brought into my life.

I could learn and live the humility of Aidan.

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