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"I have to say that George Wythe helped me immensely in my preparation for law school."
-Kyle Nuttal, J.D.
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Inspire Greatness

 

What is greatness? This might be better understood by first describing what it is not. It is not fame; it is not a position of power; it is not having one's name written in history books. Indeed, George Wythe the man sought none of these. As a mentor, the greatness he inspired in students like Jefferson and Madison, who in turn inspired it in others, was always punctuated by modesty and sacrifice.

Greatness is found in selflessly serving others. Cincinnatus, the reluctant Roman leader who refused to retain dictatorial powers, but simply returned to his farm after saving the republic. Washington, the American Cincinnatus who spent his life serving in role after role to which he never aspired. Such willing servants in history often prepared early in their lives for leadership, but did so in a way that they were motivated by the call of duty to their fellow man rather than any desire of their own. Because they worked hard to cultivate a habit of authentic modesty, many are never even known by historians. In either case, these are the great ones, but they would never say it about themselves, since, even from their peers they would find such praise distasteful.

Every good mentor understands the power of example. They understand their own weaknesses and strengths and strive to improve so they can better assist their students. Good mentors pay the price to serve at their greatest capacity. It is the triumph of their own struggle--but for purposes outside of themselves--that makes them able to inspire others.

Classical works inspire in similar fashion. Rather than merely filling students with information--and only for the benefit of the student--the mentor uses these works in a way that draws the best out of them for purposes greater than themselves. He acts, as Socrates described himself, as "a 'midwife' assisting the labor of the mind in bringing knowledge and wisdom to birth." 

As mentors inspire students through example, challenge and support, a culture of achievement, encouragement and service develops among students and they begin to inspire each other as well. There is no place for arrogance in such an environment. It is only the greatness of humble service that inspires generation after generation of true servant leaders.

 

Move the Cause of Liberty

 

 

"Heroism is one of the fundamental patterns built into all of us, a universal potentiality that must, however, be ignited to be realized."
   —Louise Cowan

 

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