As we journey through life, we are writing a story. Parts of the story are comedy, tragedy or seemingly insignificant at the time of their writing. It’s often only after we’ve written a chapter or two that we can look back and realize what happened and how we developed into the person we are. Life is not meant for us to walk through it alone, we are met to live in community and encourage and help one another. Whether our current chapter is a comedy, tragedy or seems insignificant, what will greatly shape the story that follows is who we are walking with in this chapter. People shape our lives, particularly those who serve as examples and guides. Guides serve as powerful shapers of our perspectives (how we think the world really works) and values (our personal ranking of what is most important in life). I’m so incredibly grateful for the many men and women who have been positive examples and role models throughout my life. As I reflect on the guides I have been fortunate to have in my life, 4 men quickly rise to the top as directly having a significant impact on the man I am today.
I want to introduce you to these four men and tell you how they have impacted me. Most of what I learned from them has been “caught” rather than formally “taught.” As they lived it out, I was watching and learning, often without even realizing it, until later when faced with a moment of decision I realized that I had the tools to successfully navigate the situation because of their examples.
Harold Sturdevant (aka Dad):
My dad has known me from the beginning, since the moment I was born. I am so thankful and blessed to have grown up in a home where both my mom and dad were not only present, but worked together, and also really loved each other. A few key areas that my dad pace-set and exampled for me while growing up are how to be a…
- Follower of Jesus Christ and loving those around me.
- Man and what masculinity means.
- Husband, who loves, cherishes and respects his wife.
- Father, who cares for, provides for and disciplines his children.
- Man who values of hard work and keeps a good attitude.
Raymond Thornton (aka Grandpa):
At the time of this post, my grandpa is 97 years old and still drives a corvette. I was fortunate enough to grow up about 20 miles from my grandparents and was able to see them quite often. Some of my fondest memories growing up are of time spent with my grandpa, riding a go-cart in his back yard, golfing and working long summer days for him around his house and at his shops. A few key areas where I have been impacted by Grandpa are:
- His generosity and provision for his family.
- Learning practical skills like painting, plumbing, construction and demolition.
I first met Thad in 1998 when I visited his young church plant with my girlfriend Jessica (whom I married in 2002). Having grown up in a more traditional church context, I initially found a church meeting in a senior center to be a bit strange. However, once I got past the physical setting and interacted with the people, I knew Pierpoint was the church for me. Thad graciously began to mentor and disciple me for the next few years while I attended Pierpoint and finished my college degree. Two key ways Thad has impacted me are:
- Challenging me on my perspective and value for the Bible being the ultimate source of truth and a manual for life. I’ll write more in a future post about a key question I got from Thad:
- What does the Bible say about “that?”
- Catching a vision for participating in ministry—using the gifts and abilities God has given me to help out the church in real, practical ways.
I also met Harold in 1998 and today he is my pastor, boss (I work for him) and my father-in-law (I married his oldest daughter). Harold has been in ministry since the early 1970s and has personally trained and mentored hundreds of men (including Thad King) who are doing ministry all over the world. I joined the staff team at Hope Church over ten years ago. Since that time I have worked for and with Harold and as a result have learned so much from him in the areas of:
- The vital importance of keeping a strong personal relationship with Jesus Christ and walking in the Holy Spirit daily through life.
- The character, conviction and commitment it takes to be a leader in the Kingdom.
- Leadership: personal, organizational, and strategic.
- Ministry: philosophy and practically how to do it.
I honestly don’t know what kinds of person I’d be today or where I’d be in life had I not had the influence, encouragement and love of these four men.
So, who in your life has greatly impacted who you are today? Who’s currently shaping who you are becoming? Who is influencing the next chapter of your story?