Someone, several in fact has influenced all of us in ways large and small! It starts at birth; parents and other family members affect us significantly. In life, we develop friendships and have teachers, pastors, neighbors, and others who make a difference. The opposite is also a fact: you and I have influenced others.
Humans require connections. Even the timid crave connection. As I reflect on the years, several people have influenced and impacted my life. Naturally, it would start with family. For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to skip past the family component. I have written quite a few articles about the influence of family members. Let me offer a few other examples:
- Mrs. Reynolds, my fourth-grade teacher. She was the first teacher I can remember who took the time to encourage me and told me that I would someday go to college. No one in my family had ever considered going to college. I thought she was just being nice, but somehow it stuck with me. I still remember her encouragement when she handed me my graded tests and homework. I never had an encounter with her after the fourth grade. Fifty-five years later, I remember her encouragement to keep up the good work and apply myself. I am sure she never knew the impact she had on my life.
- Pastor Wilmer Watson. I have also written an article or two about his influence. Few have impacted my life more than he and his wife. He is the one that would keep after me if I faltered. Answered my questions and prayed with me. He took me to Olivet Nazarene University when I was in the eighth grade, and the moment I left the campus for the return to northern Indiana, I knew I would go to school there. He was a major influence in my life. I had the privilege of officiating his funeral several years ago.
- Dr. Bruce Taylor, District Superintendent. Dr. Taylor called me back to the district where I had grown up. He gave me an assignment to pastor a home mission church. He challenged me and prayed for me. He was a large man, and for some reason, what ever he told me to do or be, I believed him and did what he said. Years ago, when I was installed at my last pastorate in Detroit, he happened to be passing through town and was in the service. He prayed for Susanne and me at the altar of the church. He was an influence in my life.
- Dr. Bill Sullivan. I worked for him in the early 2000s at the Global Ministry Center for the Church of the Nazarene. He was a leader and a trailblazer. He believed in me, and I learned much about the church, ministry, and life from spending time with him. Up to this point, all of my influences have passed from this life, and I am indebted to each for their influence.
There would be many more who passed in and out of my life quickly, but for that moment, they made a difference. Sunday School teachers not only taught the Bible but modeled it as well. Parishioners who often quietly and behind the scenes lived lives of faithful service. They also poured into my life, and I am grateful. I am thankful for the momentary kindness and thoughtfulness of strangers.
An excellent way to live is to seek each day to be a help and a blessing to all we come in contact with and determine that the best way to live is to be interested in others. Now may I, like those named and those whose names I do not know, seek to make a difference in the lives of others along my path. May I not be in such a hurry or so full of worry and anxiety that I miss opportunities to bless and assist those along the way.
Lord, make me a servant to someone today!