Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:6-8 (NIV)
In June of 1973, two important people came into husband’s and my life. That year the church where we were raised hired its first full time Minister of Youth. Prior to that time, a lay person, Mrs. Powell, had directed our church’s youth activities. She did a great job, but having someone on staff solely dedicated to working with and mentoring youth changed the dynamics of our church for the better. Bible classes, mission trips, church camp and social activities combined with choir and handbells consumed our lives. We practically lived at church and didn’t have time to get into trouble. The impact was more than having things to do and programs to attend. It was in having a person or in this case, persons, to care about us and to invest their lives in us. Tim, and his wife, Sammi, spent time building relationships with us. Learning who we were, encouraging us to be our best and holding us accountable to led Christlike lives. They didn’t just focus on the “in crowd”, those of us whose parents were church leaders, many of us affluent and privileged, but also mentored youth who were new to the faith or of different economic backgrounds. They did not tolerate any feelings of entitlement, but encouraged unity among the group and true friendships were developed that continue to this day. In fact, almost forty years later, a “youth group” reunion is being planned for next year and people will come from all over the country to participate. Yes, we had lots of fun. But, we were also becoming the men and women that we were called to be under their guidance. Husband was very close to Tim. I do not think to this day that Tim realizes how much he impacted husband and the choices he made at the time. Choices that made him the man he is today. That is why when husband and I married, we asked Tim to perform our wedding ceremony even though he had left to pastor another church. Husband knew that at that life changing moment, he wanted Tim to be the one who oversaw our promises to each other. And indeed, when life threatened to tear us apart, it was our promise to Tim not to consider divorce that kept us together. Almost twenty years after Tim and Sammi came into our lives, when youngest son was born, husband and I named him after Tim hoping that he would grow up to be a great man of God like his namesake. One of our reasons for traveling to Alabama this week was to reunite with Tim and Sammi. We spent the evening with them tonight and though time has changed their features, their hearts are still the same. Loving, compassionate, and caring. If in our lives we can impact the future as Tim and Sammi did, it will be a tribute to the investment that they made in our lives. What about you? Who are you impacting?