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A MAN WHO LIVED BY THE RULES

Don't read any further if you're fixated on getting ahead while giving little thought to others.

Or if your ego is approaching the rarefied air -- not hair -- of Donald Trump.

Or if your life's theme song is "Lord, It's Hard to Be Humble."

Recently, I got a refresher course on humility, and I want to pass on some lessons I learned and some ancient wisdom I'm still pondering.

The occasion was the funeral of a good and humble man, Bill Wohlford. The church in Wichita, Kan., was filled with friends and family who testified to Bill's character and his devotion to family and faith.

Remember the Will Rogers' statement "I never met a man I didn't like"? Will's philosophy was Bill's.

He'd drop what he was doing at a moment's notice to help someone in need. He'd listen, with real interest, to what someone had to say -- no matter how much the person droned on.

He loved his God, his family and his country. But he made no big show of it. He was solid, like the Kansas prairie, standing firm for what he believed in.

But the quality that came through in his life time and again was humility. It was touted by everyone at his funeral, from Sen. Bob Dole -- whose office Bill worked in during the 1970s -- to his wife, Carol, and his children.

As I thought about Bill, I recalled the sixth-century saint, Benedict of Nursia, who came up with 12 steps to humility.

As I considered each of the 12, I chose six that I think have universal appeal and everyday application. For those who realize that life's riches are ultimately found in right living, consider how these six, with my own interpretations, could enrich your life:

1. Reverence for God.

A belief in and commitment to a higher power is paramount. Otherwise, people easily fall prey to the empty-self syndrome, defined in part as excessive individualism, an incessant need for pleasure and sense stimulation, and a lack of spiritual depth.

2. Obedience to others.

If the self is the highest good, then concern for others can become a matter of choice and convenience -- an afterthought. True joy is found in living for others, not just for self.

3. Enduring affliction.

Unkind words and thoughtless acts by others toward us can wound us. Responding in kind spreads the poison and keeps our own wound from healing. Learning to react the opposite way our emotions compel us takes time and effort but is ultimately satisfying.

4. Contentment.

Striving to reach some perfect place in life or attain social status will not immunize a person from hurts or disappointments. Contentment releases a person from a selfishness that seeks personal happiness at all costs, often at others' expense.

5. Confession.

"I'm sorry." Those two words cannot be expressed enough. Admitting our mistakes, rather than excusing them, helps build trust and restore broken relationships.

6. Obeying the common rule.

For Benedict, it meant following the monastery's common rule. For us, it means respect for laws and living the Golden Rule, always thinking of others first.

Now, here's the pitch: If you and I would follow even half these rules, would we discover a greater peace and joy to living than we now know?

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