Yesterday I wrote about the people who have shaped my own personal faith. Today I want to focus on the people who have shaped the way I view the Church and the work that gets done there.
1. My College Professors – Mark Scott, J.K. Jones and Mark Moore were three of my professors. Their words showed me what a good sermon and lesson sound like. More than that, they introduced me to the teachings of Fred Craddock about preaching. All of my preaching and teaching has been molded by one of those four individuals.
I encourage people to find someone from whom they can really learn the Bible and then absorb as much material as you can from that person. One or two influential teachers are better than a thousand different voices.
2. Kyle Gardiner – While in college I started preaching every week. I was struggling in my life and faith while leading a Church. Then in chapel I heard a sermon by Kyle Gardiner. Later I would be invited to a book discussion group he was leading. I discovered that he was a preacher at a Church in Joplin and had been for a few years. Within days I drove over to his Church, I walked in and asked him to mentor me. He graciously agreed and from then on, we met weekly to discuss one chapter of a book and how it applied to life and ministry.
I strongly encourage everyone to find some type of mentor. Find someone older and wiser who can pour their life into you. I once heard a man say that everyone needs three people in their life: A Paul – an older wiser person to mentor you in the faith. A Silas – someone who is a co-laborer with you in the faith. A Timothy – someone you can pour your faith into and mentor as you grow older. Which one is missing from your life?
3. Barry Bowyer – Barry was an elder in one the Churches I served in my early years of ministry. He showed me how to be a better father and how to be a better Christian. He lived out his faith in a difficult environment and remained true to his convictions. Later he would become an associate of mine and would then leave to serve as a house parent for children whose parents were in jail. His life was a model of faith, leadership and love.
Great leaders in the Church are an extremely valuable asset. Take time to thank those people who lead you. Your life and Church would not be the same without them.
4. My Wife – My wife has an enormous servant’s heart. She thinks of little things like giving small gifts to children, writing to people (cards, emails and texts), visiting with people, developing people for ministry and doing anything that needs done without glory or recognition. I am an introvert who struggles in relationships, but I would be much worse if it were not for my wife.
As I have said before, serving affects the lives of those you serve and those who see you serve. Our impact is greater than what we immediately see.
Honestly, all of us who follow Jesus are serving in a ministry. Maybe that is helping with worship or children’s Church or Sunday school or anywhere. Who shaped your life and the way you do that ministry? I thank God for the influences who have shaped my life and I pray that I may impact another person the way these people have impacted mine.