A guest post from Tom McGrath, Loyola Press’ VP for Product Development
There’s a lot more packed into the “people for others” concept of Ignatian spirituality than doing nice and thoughtful things for others. There’s a depth to the concept that conveys a commitment to interacting with others in a way that advances their best interests as full human beings.
Here’s a story that captures what I mean. I was in fifth grade and got in trouble for disrupting the class. It was more than the usual outburst I was known for—it involved organizing my classmates in dropping our big, fat history books as the clock struck a certain time. My teacher was livid and had me stay after class. When class was over I sat at my desk and he sat behind his big desk and he stared at me for a long, long time. I could tell he was seething. He was a good man who worked hard to make his class interesting and here I was doing my best to disrupt it. I felt horrible and ashamed. Finally, he spoke. “Tom,” he said. “You’re better than that.”
I was stunned. I expected punishments, notes home to my parents, being grounded for weeks. Instead he looked at me, saw me clearly, and told me I was too good a person to waste my time disrupting class instead of contributing to it. It was clear to me he wasn’t so worried about his own efforts as he was concerned about my growth as a person. He felt that way about each of his students. Years later I can still hear his voice, especially when I’m tempted to be disruptive rather than constructive: “Tom, you’re better than that.”