This past weekend I attended a memorial service for a great man. His name is Walter, and he had a tremendous impact on countless souls during his years on earth. Walter was an attorney who fought for civil rights during the 60s and 70s and even argued and won more than one case before the Texas Supreme Court.
Walter was heavily involved in Boy Scouts of America and lived to serve and support those in need around him. The drive for Walter’s care for others was rooted in his relationship with Jesus Christ. His passion for Jesus was on display for all to see, even in his last days.
All of that is enough for praise at a memorial. For me, though, Walter was more. He was a significant father figure in my life. So when I got word last Thursday night that Walter had gone home to be with the Lord, I told my wife that there was more of a sense of loss in his death than when my adopted father died.
Walter and his family showed me Christ, and he also demonstrated to me what manhood was in a world of so many mixed messages.
In my book, Confessions, I noted that I lived part of my childhood without a dad in the house. During those seasons, my mother tried to include some men in my life, men such as Walter, and his son, Eric, who led me to Christ. She didn’t fret over getting more ladies into my impressionable heart. She knew that men and women are different and that I needed the gift of masculinity and the challenge of manhood.
As I scan the neighborhoods of the world today, I see this need being much more pressing in the lives of boys and young men. So I try to convey the love of Christ and work to build and encourage boys and young men the way Walter and others encouraged me.
Today, there are times when I meet a young boy and extend my hand, but instead of offering a high five, I’ll say something like, “Let’s shake hands like men.” Sometimes it’s those little encouragements along the way that helps a boy realize who he is and what he can become as he grows. He needs to hear—from a man—that he indeed is or will be a man someday.
I still remember one of those transformational steps. It wasn’t big, but it was recognition, and sometimes that’s enough to get the ball rolling. We were at my aunt and uncle’s house for some family gathering, and I was the only kid my age there. I was bored out of my skull in the dining area, listening to my mom, aunt, and three or four other ladies talk. Then I heard Walter yell at me from the back patio: “Steve, what are you doing? Come out here and sit with the men.” It was a little thing, but why do I still remember it to this day? Because a man I respected called me out to be with him. If this man was calling me a man, then I figured I’d possibly be a man someday, too. Thus I am.
Who was a powerful man in your life?
If you’d like more on the subject of manhood, check out chapter 4 in the Confessions book. Also available at B&N and Audible.
I received a Jury Summons
in the mail the other day. My first
thought when I saw the envelope and purpose within was not a nice one. My angst was probably driven by a number of
reasons. I was spinning a dozen or more mental
and emotional plates all at the same time that day and the thought of driving
to downtown Houston in early morning traffic is a favorite of no one. This duty just added to my present
depletion. Finding a way out of it was
probably my second thought. Reschedule? Quickly
move out of state? Join the Marines?
Fake symptoms of the West Nile virus?
After all . . . I had been in Africa three years ago.
When the dust cleared
and after a couple of days of processing, I was able to reassess the situation
and reminded myself of how blessed I am to be an American citizen. I have often suggested that the best education
for American teenagers would be a requirement to live for a month or more in a
third world socialist country before graduation. That would sure reduce the
amount of complaining going on these days.
In addition though, I’m also thinking that this might be a good thing
for many Americans of every age.
problem we might be dealing with, I can assure you there are other places on
the globe where your conditions and contextual expectations would be much
worse. I also thought about whoever the
poor souls might be who are facing legal trials over the next month and
possibly the ones I’d be expected to serve on a jury for. If I were in their shoes; would I want
someone doing everything they could to get out of this role, or someone being
still and compassionately listening to all sides of the case and truly working
to discern accurate justice? Honestly,
I’d probably want someone like me who is trying to follow Jesus as a juror
member of whom I knew would be praying for wisdom. Thus, that is what I needed to be.
This whole process
also caused me to look at the local church as well. Often times we look at the local body of
Christ as something which exists for us.
We ask questions of the church in regard to what we are going to get out
of it. What are the others going to do
for us? How are we going to get our
needs and desires met? However, when
there is a need for our attention or time, we suddenly become too busy with
other life pursuits to lend a hand.
Sometimes this is just a sad reality. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it.
Yet when we look at what the authentic church is and what Christ calls for, we have new reason to serve instead of firstly being served. In numerous places in the Bible we see illustrations of the true church being comprised of many different people who all fit together tightly being blessed by each other and blessing others. Then of course there is the pattern of Jesus who said that he did not come to “be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” and “greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.” Truly, Jesus demonstrated the greatest act of service by dying for your sins and rising again. Jesus offered salvation and showed us a new way.
America, or any
country for that matter, would be a better place when its citizens were first
looking out for others rather than for number one. This application is obviously true for followers
of Christ who have tasted the grace of Jesus. The more we look for ways to
serve instead of expecting to receive, the more the love of Christ will expand
and in fact, we will all be blessed by this sacrificial fruit.
Yes, there will be
tough times when our schedules must be interrupted or our desires set aside for
others. But the end game will be much more beautiful for all concerned.
What about you? How can you serve others today?