The first time I met Bob Scott, he walked up to me at a meeting and started speaking to me like I was an old friend. His son Mark had been my professor, but I had never met the man. But his vision was what had taken me to Iowa. Mark had told me that his dad had been down on his knees praying in the basement of a Church parsonage when he had the idea to start a Church planting organization in Iowa. Now, some 40-odd years later, that organization had called me to plant a new Church in that state. Every year the mission held an annual business meeting, and Bob returned to participate. Without fail, he came up to me every year and talked to me like an old friend in ministry. Without knowing it, his life and work changed my life, and the Church that was started is still changing lives along with the dozens of other Churches that started through that organization. Last Monday, Bob passed from this life, and the world lost a spiritual giant.
I personally never met Jack Cottrell. My experience of his teaching has all been secondhand. He was a professor for almost 50 years, during which time he wrote books and more articles than I can count. For the last couple of years, he has organized his related writings into books on various Biblical topics. I have a dozen of his books on my shelves, and I refer to them almost weekly. His book on the doctrines of the Bible is one I use whenever I have a question or need clarity on an issue. Jack’s life work has made me a more knowledgeable believer and effective preacher. Last Friday, Jack passed from this life, and the world lost a spiritual giant.
These two men’s deaths have left a void in my life and ministry, even though they were never close personal friends. Their work in the Lord touched me and influenced how I do ministry. All I can think about is who is going to fill their shoes. Where are the people who are going to lead new ministries and write scholarly books? Where are the people who will put their arms around young preachers and try to help them improve and reassure them that they are not alone? Who is going to be the next spiritual giant?
While thinking and praying about this, God reminded me of a simple truth. Even spiritual giants grow one inch at a time. They get up daily, read their Bible, say their prayers, and serve the Lord. They do it day after day after day over a lifetime. Neither of these men set out to be something special for the kingdom of God, but their consistent commitment to following the Lord made them that way.
The people who will become the next generation of influencers for the kingdom of God are those who surrender to Jesus every single day for a lifetime. Then at the end of their life, they have cast an enormous shadow, and people will be sad to see them go but thankful for the time we got to learn from them.