Monday, January 16, 2012

Encouraging the Encouragers

Every one has a story to tell. We can all tell the story of how we became the person that we are today. The las week or two I have been working on my story and there are two critical people that have led me to be where I am today. I thought that I would take a few moments and share a part of that story which highlights those two people.

I was born and raised in a Christian home. One of my childhood memories is of my Dad sitting in his study chair preparing Bible Study lessons which led me to wonder who, what, why and how. All of those books he would read fascinated me and the one that I found most irresistible was his lime green Strong’s Concordance. It had so many pages of strange words that were not even shaped the same way as any words that I knew. I remember playing with the other kids while our parents engaged in Bible study and always being mindful of the discussions that would keep the adults captivated for hours. I look back and see the fire that burned within my father to properly understand and apply the Bible. It makes me wonder about the content of those studies. In a lot of ways it helps me understand these same passions that burn within me. My father passed on those books to me when I started leading Bible studies as a young adult. Those books now captivate me–including the lime green Strong’s Concordance–as much as they captivated him. I thank God for my father, who laid this foundation in me and continues to encourage in me.

In 2004 I married my best friend. Onya and I met when I was working as a youth pastor in Chicago. She was one of the adult volunteers that helped me and was a big part of the youth ministry. During that time we were not romantically involved at all but we slowly built a solid friendship that eventually turned into our getting married. At the time of our wedding I was working for a captive finance company. It was quickly clear to my wife how unhappy I was working in the business world. She encouraged me to think about what it was that I was passionate about. Through our discussions and prayers it became clear that what I was most passionate about and best gifted to do was some form of ministry work. That led to me go to seminary to pursue my Masters of Divinity and now on to full-time work. My wife not only made that possible but she has been my biggest supporter during my studies. She is still my biggest supporter and encourager as I am going through the job search process.

Both my father and my wife have played a large role in shaping me into the person that I  am today. This is not to minimize the very helpful and influential roles of others like my father's wife; my brother and his wife; my aunt and uncle; my cousins and cousin-in-laws; my brother-in-laws and their wives; my father and mother-in-law; and my many classmates, pastors, and friends. But I wanted to take a moment and share how two of them have specifically shaped me. It is good for all of us to take a moment and think about how those around us have shaped us. Sometimes they shape us for the good and sometimes for the bad. What we need to do is recognize those that shape us for the good and to make sure that we encourage and increase their influence on us. 


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