SIMPLE EXCELLENCE

12 Mar

I have written several blogs entries about relatives of mine who influenced my life in a very profound way.  But many of us have been fortunate enough to have a very unique character have such a positive impact on our lives that mere words don’t serve them well.  My next subject lived  and worked in Barrackville, WV, where I grew up.  In fact, his home was just across the alley from my families home in the section of town called, “The Camp.”

I had a difficult time coming up with a titled for this piece.  Many words and phrases crossed my mind and I tussled with this title.  I thought about using, “The Wisest Man I Ever Knew,” or “The Greatest Man I Ever Knew,” but these words did not describe this man nor give him the honor he was due.  I believe the spirit of God revealed to me these two words, “Simple Excellence.”

The words Simple Excellence describe a man that has had more influence on my life than any other.  His name was Nathan Hinton.  I never call him , Nathan.  He was only known as Deacon Hinton.  He served on the Deacon Board at Good Hope Baptist Church for over 50 years and served as Chairman of the Board for at least half those years. Deacon Hinton was a man of few words, but when he spoke, everyone listened.  Every word seemed measured and served a specific purpose.  I have two college degrees and saw more of this world , read more books and made more money, but I couldn’t hold a candle to the wisdom Deacon Hinton possessed.  I did have the honor of serving on that same Deacon Board with him for over 16 years. During that time he taught me many great life lessons. 

First of all, Deacon Hinton was for real.  He lived the life he professed.  In other words, he walked the walk and talked the talk.   He lived his life to please God and not man.  Yet as the scriptures tell us, if you live for the Lord, the world will hate you.  Deacon Hinton suffered from that.  He did those things that he knew were correct yet many in the community disliked him, but he continued to love those that disliked him.   As a young boy, I too had similiar feelings due to the influences around me.  But when I became a man, I understood and learned to love Deacon Hinton.  I realized that he was a God-sent man who live his life at the highest of Godly standards.

Deacon Hinton taught me patience.  In times of crisis he would always say, “Time will kill it all.”  When a crisis would come, he would not act hastily , but would move with measured steps and a well thoughout plan.  Sometimes he would caution us to not make a move, but to wait it out.  In most cases, he was right.  I am glad he taught us how to be mentally tough.  He stood alone on many issues, but he believed what he stood for and never waivered.   I saw him get weary, but he never gave up.   One of the most important lessons I received from this relationship was the importance of integrity.  Deacon Hinton always said, “Your word is your bond.”  He demonstrated this when his grandson, Gregory Hinton, who also served on the Board , would walk sometimes 2-3 miles to pay a bill. Deacon Hinton never had a drivers license or owned a car.  On occasion, the merchant would err and sent too much change back.  Deacon Hinton would send Gregory back with sums as small as a penny.  When asked why he did this, he would respond, “Because the money did not belong to me.”

As a I grew as an adult, I understood the real Deacon Hinton.  He raised his own children, adopted and raised several of his grandchildren and help raise several of his great grandchildren before he passed.  Not only that, he even paid some of the bills at Good Hope Baptist Church while raising all of these children.  He knew what it meant to sacrifice.

I can still see him sitting across the church from me on a Deacon’s bench in front of the church.  He’d sit there with a grin on his face in a very quiet posture.  One might have asked, “What manner of a man is this?”  An appropriate answer would be, “That’s Deacon Hinton, God’s man, who occupied until he was called home.”

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