Don’t hide behind other people’s influences

By Judy Brandon: Local Columnist

During my early college days, I had many excellent college professors and then I had some who were not so good.

Furthermore, I had one professor in particular who was very intimidating.

It was my sophomore year. I needed an English literature class in my degree plan so I had chosen a class and a professor who had a good reputation among students.

When it came my time to register, I found that class closed. The only class open in English literature was the professor who had the reputation of being tough. I had no choice so I enrolled in the class.

What I heard about her was verified the first day. Then after a few weeks of difficult class sessions, I was even more convinced her reputation was true when she told us about our first test. She said it would be an oral examination in front of the class. The plan was that she would randomly call on students in the classroom and all the students would take their turn responding to the questions she posed.

The day of the test my nerves were frayed. I got to class early so I could study a few extra minutes. Then she appeared at the door, walked into the classroom, stood behind the podium, and put on her glasses to observe each student individually. She glanced at the seating chart and then began the examination. Always addressing everyone as “Mr.” or “Miss,” she chose a student at random and put forward a difficult question to that student.

I sat nervously though six or seven questions. Another student next to me was quizzed. I knew my time had come when she looked up, addressed me as “Miss Scott,” and addressed the question to me.

I was anxious but answered as best I could. I had read much from experts on this particular subject. I had read reviews. I even cited two authors and gave their opinion of the subject. My self-confidence grew as the minutes passed. I was convinced that I was impressing her with the sources I had researched because I was citing and referring to people who knew the subject very well.

But my poise and confidence soon plunged. When I was finished she responded: “Well Miss Scott, it is interesting to note what others think but I would really like to know what you think. Do you even know?”

The distressing thing was that I didn’t know. I had focused so much on reading what other people thought and thinking their thoughts. I was so preoccupied with that I hadn’t even had time to read the literature enough to make up my own mind. My opinion was formed strictly on what others knew, and being the expert, my professor could tell that right away.
Others’ opinions are good to have and might be all we need in some instances. I respect my doctor’s opinion, the opinion of the air conditioning specialist who fixes my broken air conditioner and the opinion of my veterinarian who takes care of our feisty little dachshund.

Yet many times we look to others for our opinions and that can be misleading. For example, some people let their ideas about Jesus and a relationship with him is molded by outside influences in the world. They form their opinions according to others’ views, and there is no denying that we are all greatly influenced by what others think.

When we come to the end of our lives, nothing anyone else thinks will matter. What will matter most is what we thought of Jesus. We cannot hide behind others’ testimonies, their lives or their influence.

Jesus asked Peter: “Who do you think I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ.” Who do you think he is?

Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: