You Were There

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This summer we are working through Gene Getz’s encouraging book BUILDING UP ONE ANOTHER. This week our study is about honoring one another. One of the points he makes is that we sometimes fail to honor the ones who helped us along in our lives at crucial moments. I do not know if I have failed to say ‘thank you’ across the years, but maybe it’s been a while. And while I can’t name every person of influence in my life, I can thank a few. So that’s what this post is about.

While I can’t name every person of influence in my life, I can thank a few.

It’s not hard to make the list. It is hard to limit the list in some way, though. So I’m just presenting a few examples. Some of the people who helped me are no longer with us. Some I’m just not in contact with. Without much of a father figure in my life, I think these men filled more than the role of advisors and mentors … they were fathers in the faith to me.

Cecil May, Jr. was the new President of MBC not long after I arrived. While I won’t name every teacher (and I did love them all and was well influenced by them), Brother May’s influence is highly impactful in my life and my ministry even today. His commitment to study, his attention to the details of the text, and his spirit of civility are all well known. Once when I lived in the Mississippi Delta, I was struggling with a teaching of the Bible I couldn’t quite get. He drove from Kosciusko and met me in Greenwood to spend a few hours with me to talk about it. I don’t know that I ever felt more important or more encouraged. I worked for him for a few years and I never saw him lose his temper, heard him say a curse word, or witnessed him be unkind to anyone (even some who were being very unkind to him). And as a bonus, among my closest friends are his children. Thank you, Cecil.

Names are running through my mind now … many more than I can share.

Eddie Lewis was the preacher for the, then, Highway 8 Church of Christ in Cleveland, Mississippi. I had just graduated from college and was about as green as I could get (even if I didn’t know it!). I had so much to learn from Eddie and he was such a willing mentor. What an excellent example he was and is. He was a disciplined and diligent worker for the church. He was excellent at visiting the members, evangelism, counseling … and such an encourager. Eddie’s wife, Judy, was also an encouraging presence not only in the church but in my life. Eddie eventually presided at my marriage to the beautiful and delightful Maggy. As I look back over the years, I have thought many times about what a wonderful role model he was for me. I wish I was more like him in so many ways. Judy is with the Lord now, and it is no surprise that Eddie found a partner who is just as enthused about Kingdom work as he. God bless you, Eddie and Madolyn! And Eddie… thank you.

Some People Have Influence Over Many Years.

John Pigg has had a lasting influence in my life over the years. He was the preacher at Kosciusko, when I went to college at age 17. He invited me to be on staff at his session of Sardis Lake Christian Camp, which became a part of my life for a decade of summer sessions and retreats. When I was the Youth and Campus Minister in Cleveland, Mississippi, John was preaching in both Greenwood and, later, Greenville. While he was at South Main Church of Christ in Greenville he invited me down to have lunch with him. There was a lady in his congregation whose brother was an elder in a coastal Mississippi town. They were looking for a preacher and John knew that I was feeling the need to embrace the ministry for which I had been trained. So, it was because of John that I met elder Robert Lingle and ultimately moved to Pascagoula to work with the Central Church of Christ. Robert was a huge influence in my life and I still quote his wisdom today! I stayed there for sixteen formative years. John Pigg is non-stop, on-mission, and always ready with a word of encouragement. He is a relentless gospel preacher and he taught me so much. Thank you, John.

It’s almost embarrassing the names I’m passing by … each one so important in the development of who I am today.

Cecil, Eddie, and John were like steady rocks upon which I leaned across the first decades of ministry. They all know one another, but they are each as different as can be. That’s another blessing to note as well. I didn’t have to become like any of them, to receive the benefits of wisdom and example of all of them. Through the influence of these men (and many others), God has been tending to my path all along. I didn’t really know it at the time.

So I hope two things are happening. I hope I’m still leaning and learning on those who have greater wisdom, strength, insight, and influence. And I hope that along the way I have passed along some of those things to others. I appreciate the insight of Gene Getz and his encouragement to honor one another above yourself by saying thank you. You were there when I needed you.

“The facts are that all of us have gotten where we are with the help of others.” – Gene Getz

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