When I recently preached a commissioning service for a dear friend and church member who was leaving to pastor, I preached one verse, “Remember those who led you and spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the result of their conduct and imitate their faith” (Hebrews. 13:7). I spent a great deal of time challenging him and all present to think about those who had led them, discipled them, and taught them God’s Word throughout their life.
Specifically, I challenged this man to consider all those who had discipled and mentored him to bring him to a place of spiritual maturity and readiness for ministry. I also challenged everyone present to think of those people in their life and then write them a card, email, or letter the next week to thank them for the way God used them in a pivotal place in their life.
Since then, I received an email from a very unlikely source. With his permission, here is a portion of his email to me:
As I listened to you on sunday evening about someone in your life that mentors you or someone you try to model, I couldn’t help but to think of you.
Six years ago my wife and I sat down in your office to talk to you about getting married at Auburndale. We had no idea what the lord had planned for us. We left your office thinking that there was no way you would marry us because we were so lost in our faith. As a matter of fact I didn’t even know what it was. I contacted you later on that week and you offered to meet me at Starbucks clear on the other end of town at six o’clock in the morning. I didn’t realize then what you were doing. I sat down and told you that I was a die-hard atheist. You just opened your bible and said let’s start from the beginning. That’s what we did, you read me scripture and I tried to figure out what you were talking about. We meet for about eight months every Saturday at six in the morning. During that time I battled through my sins and tried to figure out where God was leading me.
A year later my wife and I were baptized at Auburndale and then got married by you shortly after. You have continued to invest in me and my family ever since then and every time we meet the lord gives you the wisdom to teach and mold me into the Christian I was always supposed to be. The lord knows I still struggle every day, but with his grace and your greatly appreciated efforts I will prevail.
I am sending this to you and your family to say thank you for being exactly who you are. You have been the greatest example of a dedicated pastor I’ve ever known. I look forward to meeting with you until we are both very old, lord willing.
P.S. special thanks to you wife for allowing you to be at my house so late so many times to counsel my wife and I.
If you have the opportunity to encourage a parent, teacher, friend, or pastor in this way that would bring even a fraction of the encouragement I received, send a letter, card, or email this week. These notes of encouragement are most effective when least expected! If they ask why, just tell them you are obeying Hebrews 13:7 and wanted them to know.