How I got to 3rd base.
How did I get to 3rd base? Well, it’s quite simple really. I started on 3rd base.
I am a young pastor. I wasn’t born until 1980. That makes me 33 now. Before I was even born, much less living a Christian life and bearing fruit, others were busily at work.
I would not be where I am today, think the way I think, or behave the way I behave, without others selflessly pouring into me. I look around the base pad and realize I got a head start. Others invested in me. I benefited from them, and they often times got very little in return from me. They hit, did the dirty work, and tagged me in to run for them where they left off. There are days where I get to run to home plate and score a run. It is great stuff. From third base to home plate is a short trip. When I am not dripping with arrogance, I rightly understand my privileged starting position.
I am deeply indebted to the ones who came before me. Here are a few lessons I learned as others ran around the bases to put me on 3rd.
1. Presence: A older man mentored me in college. His name was Ralph Luciano. You may not see Ralph do some of the flashy hip things that would generate a lot of buzz. However, from my relationship with Ralph I take away an important lesson. The gift of presence, consistent presence in another person’s life. It may not be flashy, but boy does it matter.
2. Perseverance: The staff worker for CRU at UW-Green Bay was Jim Kelly. Most college ministry staff workers move unto something else as they get older. Some sense there is a shelf life on their days in college ministry. Not Jim. Jim stayed. And God continued to use him. Year after year after year, Jim stayed. Students would come in as Freshmen, and go out as Seniors, Jim stayed. Although I have not had a lot of direct conversations about ministry droughts, discouragements and dry spells with Jim as he has now been seasoned by many years, I am glad Jim stayed. At my previous ministry position I was able to see freshmen come and leave as seniors. Why did I stay? I think part of the answer is simply, “Jim.” And I do not regret staying as long as I did.
3. Engagement: Dr. Derek Jeffreys at UW-Green Bay showed me how to better engage people of differing beliefs. His classes were often discussion based, and he taught a lot of Philosophy of Religion type courses. I will be forever shaped by his classes, and more precisely by his excellent handling of discussion dynamics. If there were any benefit to students from my “Does God Exist,” and “Is the Bible Reliable,” groups in Pella Iowa, I thank Dr. Jeffreys for putting me on 3rd base.