How do you put into words all of the things that have gone in to shaping your life? There is much of which you are aware and can easily measure the impact of those people and places upon your life. Many people and events went into the shaping of your life. Some events and places and persons do not register at all in the memory bank. There are people we only encounter for a moment that have left an impression upon our lives that impacted us greatly. We may not know their names, but what they did lingers to this day. All of these ingredients are swirling around inside of you, and then one day you become aware that much has gone in to the making of you. Not finished or completed yet, but an amazing person that is becoming a better person each and every day. Inside I have the genes from a father and his family that I never met. I have no idea what they look like or what they enjoy or dislike. I have generations of family that I never met and in a way they impact my life. I am the product of public schools. I went all the way through the Fort Wayne Indiana Community School system. I went to a Christian college, and then did grad work at a Seminary. So without a doubt many educators left their impression upon my life. Church: From the church of my childhood to congregations I was a a part of while in college and seminary, i was fashioned and shaped by the faith community. Congregations that I have pastored have likewise shaped and directed my life. I am better for the experiences. Friends: The blessing of friends cannot be overestimated. You explore the world with your friends. It was through friends that you first realized that everyone does not do things as you do. Not everyone eats the same food or goes to the same places. Friends are some of our first guides to a world beyond our yard. Books: I have had a love affair with books for years. Since 1982 I have read at least 100 books a year. These books have taught me things I would never have learned had I just sat on the coach and kept thinking my own thoughts. Mentors: Long before I knew this word or concept, I had amazing mentors. My grandmother, pastors, R.B. Acheson a pastor who was a amazing mentor to me. Dr. Bruce Taylor, one of my first District Superintendents from whom I learned how to pastor, was a great influence in my life. Along the way I had many pastor friends who invested in my life and ministry. The people I pastored. The greatest lessons I have learned was taught by the great people I pastored. They opened their hearts and lives and together we shared portions of our journeys. I have no sad story of mistreatment and disappointment. Oh, I have had more than a few setbacks and heartaches. But with considerably more ministry behind me than ahead of me, I can say it has been a good journey. The benefits that I have received far outweigh the pain and sadness of life. Reflection can be a good instructor.
If you are going to build a great life you need the Lord’s forgiveness and grace and a family to love. You also want to sprinkle in some friends who are honest and compassionate. Colleagues who stretch you, while believing in you. You must feed your soul and your mind and body. Forgive and extend grace to all and trust the Lord with and for everything. Before you know it, you will have built a life, but you cannot build anything that will last without the firm foundation of salvation in Christ Jesus and His grace.