The Gospel of Bad Haircuts

bad haircut.jpg

By Art Greco

Lead Pastor: Outreach



“To my dad, me learning and growing was more important than him looking good.”

That’s what I recall thinking the first time my dad (a master barber) came into Moler Barber College on Market Street in San Jose back in 1970 and sat in my chair for a haircut. My father had a conviction that every man should have a trade to “fall back on in an emergency,” thus, shortly after beginning my sophomore year of high school, I was enrolled in a skid-row barber school, attending every day from 4-7 after I finished my high school classes. Thrusting this Suburban kid (who, at 16, was just barely old enough to drive) into such a radically urban environment was scary, but seeing my dad walk in and ask me to cut his hair for the first time certainly topped it. Apparently, he wasn’t satisfied to just HAVE a conviction, he was actually going to PARTICIPATE in it. And I thought he was making a terrible mistake.

I complained, “I can’t cut YOUR hair, dad. I might mess it up. In fact, I would FOR SURE mess it up!”

He replied while tucking in his shirt collar then wrapping himself in the chair cloth, “Don’t worry, kid. Besides, the only difference between a good haircut and a bad one is … well … about two weeks. If you screw it up, it’ll grow back – guaranteed! Now let’s get started.”

My dad, it dawned on me, was willing to work each day giving excellent haircuts to his customers while wearing a “beginner’s hack-job” of a haircut given him by his son. It was, to that point in my life, the most powerful example of humility I had ever seen, and it so impacted me that to this day I feel a warmth in my heart whenever I remember it. Conviction linked with humility has that kind of power; you remember it when those two attributes walk together.


Read Luke 23:26-34

Crosses, of course, are much more difficult to deal with than bad haircuts, but in this case, they have something in common: they both reveal the powerful effects of the beautiful marriage of conviction and humility. Consider Jesus on the cross. He hung there out of a conviction that he must surrender his life in order for humanity to be delivered from sin but was willing to look as though he had suffered an embarrassing defeat in order to act on that conviction. Again, the dynamic partnership of conviction and humility – sitting down for the what you knew would be the worst haircut of your life because your child’s gain was more important to you than how good (or bad) you looked.


Think of the person or persons who were most influential in your coming to Jesus or being willing to consider him at all. What was it about them that so impressed you that you would want to become a follower of Christ or take the time to look into his teachings? I’m betting it had little or nothing to do with how forceful they were or how well they could argue (though it may have – certainly don’t mean to minimize that if it played a part) and at least as much to do with some version of the combination of competency and tenderness – conviction and humility.

Reflect on that combination that so contributed to your respect for them and your willingness to rethink your own path.

In what ways might the people YOU encounter today consider you to be like those whose conviction and humility you most admire?


If that person you thought of in the exercise above is still alive and able to hear from you, pick up the phone and call him/her. Fill him/her in on how you’re doing, what you’re learning, and how influential his/her life has been in yours.

If your person has passed, sit down and write a letter to him/her. But don’t stop there. Read the letter to a good friend, one of your children or grandchildren, a neighbor … anyone close to you that would be blessed by the experience of remembering and appreciating with you


By the way, it was an atrocious haircut, with scars, “scalpings,” and “dig marks” above both ears and neck. And yes, he wore it just like that for two weeks before coming back and getting a trim from me – one that, though vastly improved, was still alarmingly imperfect.

I just shake my head … then wipe my eyes when I think of it.