Misfits and Lawrence of Arabia


Years ago on the recommendation of my favorite history professor ever, I sat down and watched Lawrence of Arabia. Dr. Hymes is a Middle East scholar, and the source material was near and dear to his heart. Because of that he wanted to share some of that knowledge with me, perhaps in the hopes that a movie he knew I would enjoy might spark an interest of my own in the history of the Middle East.

I’d never bothered to watch the movie before, as it had already been out for over 30 years. Movies that old that were longer than three hours weren’t high on my radar. I doubted it would have the hold over me that Braveheart did, so I never bothered.

I really missed out.

I checked out the movie and sat spellbound for 216 minutes. It truly was a great movie. Like many of my favorite historical cinematic representations, it was light on special effects and heavy on the visual impact of the story itself. It did spark an interest for me, but not the same one that Dr. Hymes probably hoped for. I still know him these days outside of the professor-student relationship, and I believe he’d be pleased that I still stoke that spark his recommendation gave fire to. It was a spark that was recently stoked again.

The spark was a love of underdogs and the fights they take on.

I recently read David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, a book about, in his words…”underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants”. It is a book that fits me well, and that I find myself wanting to stay close to. I don’t think I ever want to not be an underdog or a misfit.

T.E. Lawrence was a true underdog and is referenced in the book along with a great many other ancient and contemporary examples, including my namesake and the title character of David the giant slayer, the boy warrior, the fighter of bears and lions, the man who became king of God’s chosen people.

One premise that Gladwell brought out about both Lawrence and David is that they had no stake in the establishments they fought for or the status quo they supported. T.E. Lawrence had no stake in the British military establishment. David had no stake in the finer points of ancient Middle Eastern warfare or the politics associated with it.

I find myself these days sitting in the misfit chair in so many places. We homeschool our kids and have no stake in the American education system. I pastor a small non-traditional church and have no stake in modern church institutions. I’m self-employed and have no stake in the corporate way of doing things.

Apparently, misfit is so written into my DNA that I’m passing it onto my kids. One child is dyslexic and the other dyscalculic. Gladwell even devotes an entire chapter to the joy of raising dyslexic kids. In our family these things are known as superpowers.

But that’s all about me and my band of merry misfits. What about you? Are there places in your life where you just don’t fit in? Perhaps where you shine brighter because you are different? Are you an underdog somewhere? Do you find yourself blowing up train tracks and fighting overwhelming forces or throwing rocks at giants? If you don’t, maybe you should. As a matter of fact, I think you should go out right now and seek this out. If you fit in too well everywhere, it’s probably because you’re not trying hard enough. Go out and try harder.

If you’re not sure where to start, just look for a giant. It could be a bigger person, company, or institution. When you find that giant, pick up the biggest rock you can find and throw it at him.

This message was written by a team of geeks, nerds, gamers, and Dr. David Powers. You can always find us at www.drdavidpowers.com. Thanks for reading!

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