4 Things I've Learned From Norman Sosebee

By Matt Sapp

By Matt Sapp

Last Monday the nation paused to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK Day reminds us that one person with the courage to lead with moral clarity and conviction can change the world. Martin Luther King, Jr.—and other heroes—remind us that ordinary people have the capacity to do big things.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to celebrate a different kind of hero. On Thursday, the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce recognized Norman Sosebee as Cherokee County’s 2016 First Citizen.

The First Citizen Award is given each year to a man or woman who has “shown significant meritorious service to his or her community through family, civic and/or religious involvement.”  Mr. Sosebee’s service to Cherokee County more than amply covers all of those bases.

In last week's blog post I noted the national monuments in Washington, DC to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King and remembered each of those men as personal heroes of mine. No one has built a monument on the Washington Mall to Mr. Sosebee—yet. But Mr. Sosebee’s achievements and impact are no less remarkable or deserving of honor than the achievements of those memorialized in our nation’s capital.

Some people get the chance to do great big things for their fellow men and women. Most of us, though, will never claim the attention of an entire nation. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t have great impact. Mr. Sosebee is the best example of that truth I’ve ever seen.  

Norman Sosebee (left) with another great American, J.R. Huddlestun

Norman Sosebee (left) with another great American, J.R. Huddlestun

Mr. Sosebee fought bravely in World War II and has become a first-rate historian of that war. He ran a successful business and raised a family in Cherokee County. He’s served in civic groups and volunteered in government. His generosity to his community, both in his private life and as a businessman, has been so great that no amount of humility has been able to hide it. And Mr. Sosebee continues to be one of the finest churchmen anywhere.

Mr. Sosebee’s commitment to God, family, country and community is unmatched, and he reminds us that there is tremendous courage in doing the right thing every day--what Eugene Peterson calls “a long obedience in the same direction.”

That kind of obedience is not just admirable or praise worthy, it’s heroic.

So while Mr. Sosebee has certainly had some highlight reel moments in his life—some big moments of great achievement and of physical and moral courage—the most remarkable thing about Mr. Sosebee is his daily, determined consistency—his unwavering commitment to doing what is right as a follower of Christ.

Here are four things I was reminded of as Mr. Sosebee was honored yesterday.

1.      Small matters.
There’s a popular saying that the smallest act of kindest is worth more than the grandest intention. It’s true. One person can make quite a difference in this world one small act of kindness at a time.

2.      Consistency wins.
The tortoise always beats the hare. Daily habits make a difference. Few things are as important to personal progress as consistency. Saving for retirement, losing weight, getting stronger, writing the great American novel, changing the world--it doesn’t matter, consistency always wins.

3.      People are watching you.
Don’t underestimate the impact of doing the right things, treating people the right way, and developing the right habits. Most of us underestimate the ripples of our influence. Don't. What you do—or don’t do—makes a difference.

4.      Character counts.
In fact, without character, nothing else counts at all. Great character lends significance to everything you do. Great character is sacred. Mr. Sosebee is a man of great character. The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce couldn't have recognized a more deserving citizen. 

So here’s to Mr. Norman Sosebee, a great Christian and a great American.