Who were the people who most influenced your life? What is it they did that made such an impact on you that it changed your life? It might have been a mentor, teacher, pastor, friend, parent, or someone outside the realm of your daily life. Likely it was someone who saw things in your life differently than you could.
I can think of a number of people who impacted my life. Some of them were brief encounters and others are people who have walked alongside me for longer periods of time. One of the shortest encounters happened when I was putting in a window in my house in Washington, Iowa. An itinerant pastor, maybe a church planter was walking by and offered to help me. The thing that struck me was that he wasn’t pushing to recruit me to his church. He just stopped by to encourage a stranger and lend a helping hand. It taught me to remember to look for ways to encourage and help others without having an agenda of my own.
I remember the abundant generosity and joy of living that Tom and Lucy Aycock demonstrated while focusing intently on pursuing – and celebrating – God.
I think about Pastor Carlton Christensen who mentored me spiritually in such a gentle way. Without criticizing where I was in my journey he gently showed me how to get on the right path. I also remember his compassion in helping me put a starter in my car…on Christmas Eve day…in the bitter cold temperatures. Pastor Christensen taught me the importance of being real and helping others even if it came at personal cost.
I remember co-teaching with Dr. Terry Penniman at the community college. On one lunch break we stopped at a local DQ Brazier. I was eager to get our food and visit about our upcoming class, but Terry was busy complimenting the new manager on how the restaurant looked. Terry taught me the importance of noticing others and speaking value into their lives.
My dear bride of the last 43 years and 7 months continues to teach me the art of being gentle with others, of slowing down, and the importance of laughter. And oh, she has taught me so much more.
I could list several others who have influenced my life in profound ways. I remember Danny Hodges saying we all need to be in positions of being influenced and influencing others in positive ways. His challenge was that we each should have a Paul, a Barnabus, and a Timothy in our lives. His reference was to Paul is an older, more mature person who could mentor us. Barnabus refers to a fellow sojourner who might share our path for a period of time, likely someone who shares our struggles, a friend in whom to confide. And Timothy refers to those people in whom we invest by pouring our wisdom and experience into their lives. These people will probably change over the course of your life. Ideally, a balanced life that is bent on maturing would have all three.
How about you? Do you have a Paul who could mentor you in the challenging parts of your life? Or a Barnabus with whom you can share mutual trials and celebrations? And are you investing your life in a Timothy, a younger person or one who is newer to the spiritual walk?
These are the relationships that make a legacy life, a life of great purpose and passion. Ask God to guide you in purposeful relationships that contribute to your legacy.