A Humility Story

Butler went to the final game of the NCAA championship in both 2010 and 2011.

Ron Nored was an all-state point guard at Homewood High School in Homewood, Alabama. As a student at Butler University, Ron studied education and prepared to be an elementary teacher. His own teachers and coaches had inspired Ron to cultivate the heart of an educator. One of the most important mentors and examples of education as a vocation of service was Ron’s father. The Rev. Ron Nored, Sr. was a fulltime pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He taught seminary courses, too. And it was through ministry to the people in the impoverished Birmingham, Alabama, neighborhood where the church was located that the elder Ron Nored taught his son to serve others. In October 2003, when Ron Jr. was 13, his father died of cancer, but he left a lifelong impression on his son to live a life of humble service to others.

“I came to Butler to be a teacher. I had amazing teachers and coaches all my life, but my father was the most important teacher. When he passed away, it was a profound moment, for me, step into a bigger role in the world, to set about becoming the teacher I was meant to be,” Ron said. “I love being with people, helping them strive to be there best, to do better. And at the center of that is the belief that we are all called to be humble servants in this lifetime.”

Sometimes the lessons of humility are not always what we want to learn, however. When Ron was a sophomore at Butler in 2010, he was point guard on the starting five that went to the championship game against Duke. However, in 2011 in the middle of the season, Coach Brad Stevens asked another player to be the starting point guard, sending Nored to sit on the bench as one of the first substitutes. Now, when a player has been a starter on the team as a sophomore and that team played in the championship game, he might expect that he will be the starting point guard the next year. However, Ron Nored was not on the starting five in the 2010-2011 season. More ego-driven players may have become upset and discouraged by what they considered to be a demotion, but it was not so with Ron Nored.

“Coach and I had a conversation after we lost to Youngstown State in 2011. He told me we were going to start doing different things. ‘You’re coming off the bench. Are you okay with that?’ he asked me. And I remember thinking ‘Are you serious? Of course I am okay with that.’ I know those decisions have to be made. I signed up to be the best teammate I could be. I did not sign up to be a star. Since day one at Butler, Coach has been teaching us about humility and team and service. I knew that when it was my time to come off the bench I would make my contribution. I trusted Coach when he was starting me. How could I not trust him now?”

And that is where the principles of the Butler Way – and its foundational lesson in humility – can reflect a belief in the transcendent. For people of Christian faith it is an invitation to patience and steadfastness in times of loss as well as triumph. Jesus put it this way: “Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5 (Common English Bible)


Excerpt from: Lead Like Butler: Six Principles for Values-Based Leadership by Kent Millard and Judith Cebula Copyright 2013 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

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