The Underestimated…Or the Power of the Turtle!

My colleague, Denny, told me many years ago that our careers were a marathon and not a sprint.  I thought about his words and increasingly understood them as the years rolled by.  I recall feeling anxious regarding what I wanted Building Services to accomplish and the time that it was taking to reach that goal.  Having emerged from leadership that was counterproductive and who sought to slow our work product down and for us to produce dirty university buildings…I was convinced that I could not work enough hours to accomplish all that I wanted to do to facilitate the restoration of our departments good name!

close up photo of turtle

Photo by David Dibert on

The television show, Columbo, began in 1968 and was about a somewhat bumbling and disheveled police detective and his seeming ineptitude and lack of focus.  In reality Columbo, played by the actor Peter Falk, was a case study in the art of underestimation.  As he haltingly stumbled and fumbled around a murder case he elicited the response of those whom be was investigating of…suffering a fool…


On numerous occasions I have found myself in the role of Columbo while those with  whom I was dealing with had little appreciation for the method of my madness…  We are members, in good standing, of a frenetic society.  We want to tear down our barns and build bigger ones…right now!  Often the systematic and careful plodding of daily incremental success is eclipsed by the brilliance of lofty rhetoric with little substance…until the turtle is holding the trophy at the finish line of the marathon!


I have found the power of the turtle to be vital in my christian experience.  If all of the exhortations that I have heard in over 51 years had been true…I would still be at the starting gate waiting for the flag to drop.  The christian life…is just that…a life…bells do not ring and God’s plan is much longer than our quite puff of wind of time on the earth.  


‘Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’  And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.  So it was, when Elijah heard it, the he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.  Suddenly a voice came to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’    I Kings 19:11-13 


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