Last week I published my challenge to older men. My generation of young men have been largely abandoned to find our own way and I hope to wake up the older men of our desperate need for them.
It’s not going well.
But that is not to say we have been completely abandoned. My story is one littered with the investment of older men in my life. I would be remiss not to properly honor them for their time and effort. This is my thank you to the individuals who have shown me the way. So, without further ado, I would like to say Thank You to:
We are all heavily influenced by our fathers. My dad was far more influential on me than I will ever know. I remember my sixth birthday. My dad bought me a chessboard and taught me how to play. We played nearly every night for months. He won every time, of course, but I caught on. About ten months later I finally, through concerted effort, was able to draw him. About a week later I beat him for the first time.
Today I mop the floor with him every time.
I think this is analogous of all my dad offered me. Unlike in chess, I don’t exceed his skill in most things, but I am so glad to have been taught by him. The most important lessons dad taught me was his fanatical dedication to my mom. He taught me this well and it has served me well in my own marriage.
He also worked for many years in a job he didn’t like to feed us. The determination and effort that took is truly an inspiration for me. To this day, I am irritated with men who won’t work really hard to care for their families. My dad showed me that you sacrifice for your family and I can’t imagine why anyone would do anything else.
Behind my parents, the most influential person in my life was Pastor James. He came to the church where I grew up when I was about 10 years old. You must understand that I was born as a tiny attorney who wanted a very logical explanation for everything. I often would overwhelm and exhaust the adults in my life.
But not Pastor James.
He was very patient and would struggle with me through hard issues in scripture. Pastor James taught me to be a Christian Hedonist and showed me a God who was not simply right, but delightful. God stopped being just morally good but also experientially good. Heaven will be fun because the most fun and satisfying being ever will be there.
Pastor James taught me so many things. I remember in particular one Wednesday night when Pastor James was being accused of something (I don’t remember what). He stood in front of all of us and said, “I know you think you have dirt on me. But I promise you that no matter what you’ve got on me, I know of worse things I have done.” His response to the accusation was humility. To this day I still ponder that evening and am challenged to be gracious with those who accuse me.
Thank you Pastor James.
The fourth most influential person in my life was Mike, behind Pastor James and my parents. Mike invested heavily in me. he spent a great deal of time working with a teenager who needed logical explanations and arguments. He was very patient with a million questions and challenges. Mike also got me exercising for the first time in my life.
Mike’s influence on me was subtle. It was not as much a couple single events as much as a thousand little conversations. Mike’s time investment in me was enormous. It is humbling and challenging to me. Would I invest that much in a teenager? I’m not sure.
Thank you Mike.
Anything I accomplish in my life will have the stamps of Dad, Mom, Pastor James, and Mike on it.The debt I owe them is profound. I hope that one day I will be able to serve a young man in the ways that these men (and women) have serve me.