Listening to Andy Stanley of Northpoint preach recently on providential relationships that impact our spiritual life reminded me of some of the men in my life who encouraged my spiritual growth the most.
Dennis Newkirk was my pastor when I was in my early twenties and just beginning to get serious about my Christian life. I grew up in church, but as typical for high school and college years, I wandered from my roots. I continued to be a leader in other areas. Dennis recognized this in me and recruited me as a leader in the church. His teaching was the most practical and life-changing I had ever heard. I will never forget the day he pulled me aside and said, “Ron, you are a giant-killer. Go kill some giants!” That word became the challenge of my heart that remains today.
Tommy Rowell was an interim music minister at our church. I was going through one of the most difficult years of my life. One night Tommy showed up at my door. He even came to the back door. I didn’t know Tommy, but God had shared with Tommy that I needed a friend. I did. Tommy and I became great friends. I learned from Tommy the value of guy friends. I learned how two men can hug one another and even say they love each other, without it being too weird. (It still is not something I do naturally, but I ain’t scared of it.) Tommy’s friendship launched my desire to minister to men who were just as empty of healthy male relationships as I once was.
David Atchison has a similar story to mine, coming into the ministry after years in the business world. When I became interested in men’s ministries, David was one of the first people I met. We shared the same heart, had similar Kingdom passions, and just enjoyed each other’s company. I asked David to mentor me for a couple years. His insight into God’s Word, especially in the areas of grace and our identity as believers, greatly shaped my theology and understanding of who I am in Christ. Interesting, David was part of a church plant named Grace Community Church almost 10 years before we launched our own Grace Community Church.
There have been dozens of others I could have mentioned, these were just the three that came to mind first. Who have been some of the providential relationships in your life that have helped shape you into the believer you are today? Feel free to pay tribute to them by commenting to this post. (Then forward it to them.)