I can look back over my life and identify numerous people who have had an impact in my life. My parents, colleagues, close friends and mentors.
Keith is one person who stands out for me.
We met 36 years ago…I was 14 and he was the guest speaker at summer camp. He was also the leader of my cabin (I suspect, because no one else wanted me). It was an uneventful week really, but I thought he was alright…as old people go. He was 8 years younger than I am now.
Someone’s Knocking At The Door
The following year, Keith came on staff as youth pastor at my church. A church I had grown up in with my family.
I remember the first time we were reunited, just over a year after meeting at camp…it was 4pm on a Thursday afternoon and Keith was at my front door.
I was not impressed.
I was not hospitable or engaging…Keith came inside but I don’t remember saying anything other than, “What do you want?”
By all accounts it would have appeared to be a non-starter as far as a potential relationship was concerned.
You see, by this time, I had essentially turned my back on my faith, my family and started down a self-destructive path.
When I finally got Keith out the door, I figured that was the end of that. But the next Thursday at 4pm Keith showed again…and the week after that, and the week after that. I wasn’t sure what motivated him to do it since I certainly wasn’t inviting him.
But slowly, after many awkward visits, things slowly began to change…I actually looked forward to his visits and a friendship of sorts began.
Within a couple of years Keith moved on to another ministry position in British Columbia, but not before we forged a bond that has stood the test of time. About 36 years now.
Over that time, our relationship as morphed from pastor/ troubled kid, to father/son, to colleagues in ministry.
Throughout, Keith has been a mentor to me. He has modelled so much and I have learned so much from him. He has influenced me as a parent, a pastor and husband. He has modelled a strong work ethic, integrity, faithfulness and perseverance. He has taught me things without saying a word.
For example, he never said, “Stop doing this or that.” Even though I was doing many things that I needed to stop doing. He taught me to believe in, who people can become, not just who they are. To love who they are becoming regardless of where they are at.
He modelled who God is…patient, loving and full of grace. Keith would tell tell you that I was the meanest kid he had ever met in his life…and as a youth pastor he had met thousands. But that didn’t stop him from pursuing me and loving me at my worst, believing there was something better ahead.
I’ve been visiting Keith at his home in Ohio over the past few days doing what we do best…talking and drinking coffee. I shared my story with the Jr/Sr high group on Sunday as well. Time with Keith is always refreshing, encouraging and life-giving.
Sometimes it’s still hard to believe how our relationship happened and how it not only survived but flourished all these years. Our relationship has survived hard times, long distances and various life changes.
The reality is, I may not be writing this blog, I might not be, period, if God hadn’t brought Keith into my life. I’m so grateful.
This past Sunday I spoke to a group of young people to talk about the difference between being familiar with who God is and having a personal relationship with Him. And that everyone needs a Keith in their life.
- Someone who steps out of their comfort zone to engage you.
- Someone who believes you are worth the effort to get to know.
- Someone who believes you are more than your worst choices and current self.
- Someone who sees your potential, even when it’s virtually invisible.
- Someone who loves you, not for what you’ve done or not done.
- Someone who is in it for the long haul.
“Most people can do absolutely awe-inspiring things. Sometimes they just need a little nudge.” ~ Timothy Ferriss
Q. Do you have someone like that in your life? If not, consider who that might be? Who is just ahead of you, someone you respect and would like to learn and grow with?
- Pray about who that might be
- Approach them to see if there is a potential mentor relationship there.
- Set out clear expectations.
- Commit to it.
Q. Can you be that person for someone else?
- Who could you benefit from your life experience, wisdom and compassion?
- Contact them and take them out for a coffee
- Engage them and discover their story
- See where it goes.
You might be the difference in someone’s life as Keith has been for me. What an awesome opportunity!