Today, I said good-bye to a dear friend. Mike was a key leader at a local church for over 20 years. He helped create their men’s ministry, he served several times as a warden on the vestry, he was instrumental in their building campaigns, and he helped to create the Timothy Program– this was the program that funded my position at the church when I served there as an Assistant Rector.
Most significantly to me, Mike was assigned to be my mentor during the Timothy Program.
Here is what that meant– About once every 6 weeks, Mike and I would meet for lunch at Silverado in Annandale. Same place, same time, for 5 years. Mike would ask me about my marriage– how’s Laurel? He’d have a big smile on his face, because he knew Laurel and he loved Laurel. He would ask me about each of my kids– first it was just 2 boys, then Helen, then James. I would talk about my vocational frustrations. He would exhort me to humility and patience. I would tell him how scared I was about planting a church or preaching every week or finding a building or finding a worship leader. And he would tell me to pray, to trust God, to remember his provision. Mike bought me books… And then asked me if I read them. He taught me about finances, mortgages, debt, and being leveraged. He always had a thought on where the economy was going. Mike asked me about my devotional life– are you having a quiet time? How’s your prayer life? Are you getting away once a month to linger with God? He asked me about pornography and greed and kindness.
I always knew when our time was drawing to a close because he would pull a 3×5 card out of his pocket and ask, How can I pray for you? There were other things already on the card. Then he would tell me how I could pray for him. Eventually, I learned to bring my own card.
We always ate the same thing– a basket of chips and salsa, 2 iced teas, and 2 Monterrey chicken salads. Sometimes he got a side of broccoli.
He loved to cycle. His vacations usually involved a bike ride in an exotic place. I would listen to vacation stories and think, some day…. Me and Laurel, riding through Tuscany– that’ll do.
Mike was passionate about developing young leaders and investing in younger guys. And he was passionate about those guys investing in others.
The greatest gift Mike gave me was that He believed in me. He believed that God was at work in my life. He took the time to feed me chips and say– God is doing good stuff in you. Keep your chin up. Keep hoping. Keep working. Keep praying. That is a gift– to have someone sit, ask questions, listen, and then say– God is here and He is at work. Be encouraged.
Mike was making a disciple of Jesus. Me! We all need that. We could all be that.
Yesterday, Mike quite unexpectedly went home to be with Jesus. I was riding my bike with some dear friends– came home, started to make pancakes, checked my email, and learned that he had passed away.
He had been fighting a bad heart for 3 or 4 years.
Now Mike’s heart and every other part of him is fully restored. Now there is no more pain, suffering. Mike is one of those guys who faithfully gave his stuff, his time, his reputation, and his energy to make disciples. He knew that was the thing God put him on earth to do for an all too brief time.
A lot of you want to do that. A lot of you want our church to do that.
I am so grateful to God that for 5 years, Mike invested his life in me.