I've been thinking lately about people who invested themselves in me. These are people who saw more in me at the time than I saw in myself. They have been a gift from God, and have without a doubt been used by God to mold me more into the person He's made me to be.
One of my first mentors was James F. Fowler, who was the preacher at the Central Church of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama when I became that church's youth minister. Jimmy Fowler (as he was know to his peers, but not me... it would have been like calling your parents by their first name) was 25+ years older than me, and had several decades of experience working with local church. I brought with me several hours of experience, a great deal of enthusiasm and a desire to learn.
J.F. (as I finally grew comfortable calling him) was most patient in providing me the realities of congregational ministry, personal spiritual disciplines and insights into life's hard lessons that perhaps I might learn from and not have to repeat. He was a pioneer in using radio as an outreach tool, and his office was a mini-recording studio (note the reel-to-reel recorders J.F. is working with in the picture above).
I expressed along the way my appreciation to J.F. for the investment he was making in my life, but I didn't have the opportunity to fully do that from a vantage point of several years removed. My friend and mentor died suddenly of a heart attack as he prepared his Sunday sermon, so our relationship ended abruptly. But the lessons he taught me have remained with me to this day.
I'll share more later about others who've made a difference in my life... along with their pictures. And I hope I'll cause you to recall, and thank if you haven't done so and are able to, those who have been used by God to make a difference in your life.