As Chris mentioned yesterday, we’ll be spending the week talking about people who have made significant impact on our lives. We still sit in the shadow of All Saints Day, which has not been a day that was mentioned anywhere in my faith tradition. But I think it’s always a great time to give credit where it’s due and to honor those who have done so much for us.
Chris and I grew up together, so our lists could be pretty similar. So many of the people on his list could easily be on mine, but there are so many that have impacted me in powerful ways that there’s not space enough to mention them all. What I’ll try to do is mention a few and one specific thing that I learned from them (which only begins to describe their effect on my life). So with no further ado, here we go:
Gerald & Deborah Carr
How do you describe your parents’ impact on your life? I get most of who I am from these people, both good and bad (and it’s mostly good). I have faith because they were brought to faith as adults. And they keep growing, which is such an impressive thing to me and an example I want to follow. They are one of the rocks and constants in my life that I’m unsure what I’d do without them. They are generous and loving and courageous and just about the best parents I could have hoped for.
One of the great things I take from them is the way they own their imperfections. They have never tried to hide their mistakes. They own their shortcomings. They will admit that they were not perfect parents and talk openly about their regrets. For someone who has some perfectionists tendencies, this has been a huge blessing. I was always allowed to make my own mistakes and learn from them. And when I did mess up, there was always love and acceptance there. It’s the type of parent I want to be.
Thanks, Mom & Dad.
Is it too cheesy to put your parents and your wife on the list? Oh well, I’ll risk it. Staci & I have been married for almost 15 years now and it would be difficult for me to describe the way she has changed me in this space. There is just too much to talk about. But she has been my partner, my rock, the mother of my beautiful children and the one by my side through the ups and downs of life.
There are a few things that I have learned from her that have made me a better person. First of all is patience. I have not always been a joy to live with. I have made countless mistakes and continue to make them. But Staci has walked with me through all of them. She puts up with me when no other sane person would.
Secondly, she has been an example of allowing your faith to be stretched. We have come a long way in these 15 years. I am not the same person she married all those years ago. On our journey our faith has been challenged and so many of our views have changed. We have had many late nights talking about wrong and right, what the Bible says, this God we try to follow and how to minister to others. It has been rocky at times, but an unbelievable journey. I am thankful she is by my side.
David & Dana Daniels
I am in ministry today because a couple came to our church when I was starting junior high school. They showed me what it was like to love and laugh and play and challenge and teach and minister to young people. David was my youth minister and by the time I left high school, I wanted to be one, too. I still remember some of his lessons (not nearly enough, I’m sure), but mainly recall his presence, his laugh and the way he opened his life and his home to us.
Dana allowed a bunch of immature teenage boys to constantly poke fun of her when we didn’t really understand yet how to show affection and love. She was our minister as much as David was, which I didn’t understand until much later (and it shaped the way Staci & I partnered in ministry). I am so grateful to have had these 2 in my life. I would not have become a minister without them.
Chris & Cindy Freeman
When Staci & I were searching for ministry opportunities out of college, we had a couple of different options. There were several factors that attracted us to Austin, but one of them was Chris & Cindy Freeman. They were part of the search committee that hired Staci at Westover Hills and served as part of the Children’s Ministry Team during our time there. They are such kind and generous people and constantly looked out for us.
At the time, Staci and I were newly married with no children. It was kind of funny to be so young and tasked with ministering to parents and children during that time. We had to look for concrete examples of what we believed families should look like. Chris & Cindy were that for me. They were tremendous parents to their children and loving spouses. They were the type of family that I wanted mine to be. And they were so loving to everyone else around them. Generous and compassionate. I still think of them often even though it has been a long time since I’ve seen them. Their example is still strong in my mind and one that I try to live up to every day.
Everyone needs a teacher. David Wray was mine. Honestly, my years in college at ACU almost seem like a blur. So much
happened during those years to stretch and shape me into the person I am now. What sticks out most about that experience is Dr. Wray. He was the chair of the Undergraduate Bible Department at the time and I took several of his classes on both the undergraduate and graduate level. I have rarely met anyone as wise or thoughtful. He taught me what it meant to really teach another person and to help lead others to truth.
I still remember the way he would fold his arms and thoughtfully sigh when presented with a tough question. When I would rush in to answer, he would listen and think. He saw every opportunity as a chance to learn and be shaped by another. He had an intimidating presence — 6’9″ or so, tall, lanky with a deep voice — and yet a gentle and humble spirit that permeated every encounter. I desperately wanted to be like him. He is still a hero to me.
David performed my wedding and there is a picture that I love from that day. As Staci and I shared our first kiss as husband & wife, there is David towering over us with a kind, genuine, enthusiastic smile. I love that picture. It perfectly captures the image of David I have in my mind. He is wise and kind and loving and gentle and the best teacher I have ever known.