What person – or persons – providing inspiration for you earlier in life? Who strongly influenced some area of your life – career, interests, beliefs or values?
A pastor asked this question during his sermon this week. He suggested noted individuals like Mother Teresa, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks and Winston Churchill as possibilities. No question, these are people many of us have admired for various reasons. But in reality, the people that touch our lives most significantly often are those who never attract national attention.
For me, educators made a tremendous difference – Mr. Mazzocchi, the fourth-grade teacher who informed my mother that I had “college potential”; Mrs. Looser, my freshman English instructor who told me that I had potential to become a writer; Dr. Clarke, my first journalism professor who introduced me to the craft of writing a news story.
My uncle, Joe Tamasy, taught me the value of initiative and hard work; Johnny Miller was the first pastor to show me the practical, down-to-earth relevance and application of the Scriptures. Duane Jacobs took a chance by providing my first opportunity in full-time vocational ministry. Ted DeMoss and many others served as examples of what it means to be totally committed to serving God, both personally and professionally.
But I think there is a question greater than who it was that inspired us: Who are you inspiring? Whose life has become – or is becoming – better because of your investment in them?
Approaching the end of his life and ministry, the apostle Paul issued an amazingly bold, yet honest challenge: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice” (Philippians 4:9).
Would you have the confidence to write or say something like that to someone in your life? If not, why not?