Monday, April 23, 2012

Take Note

"Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." 

(Philippians 3:17)

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day in the Okanagan Valley. One of those days when, as you drive north out of town towards the airport, you thrill to the incredible mountainous landscape around you, roll down your window, and crank up whatever tunes are currently in your car's stereo (Lynyrd Skynyrd, in this case).

What made yesterday even more special was the special guest that I was picking up at the airport:

C.E. "Tom" Warren has been a friend of our family for as long as I can remember, and before they both retired, had been my father's long-time business partner. For many years, Tom also served as one of the elders at our church.
As Wendy and I enjoyed our lunch with Tom at a local Montana's Steakhouse (his treat, thanks Tom!), I couldn't help but remember numerous instances over the years where Tom had gone out of his way -- in his usual subversive manner of not wanting to draw attention to himself -- to encourage, support, and show true servant leadership.

When I was a kid in elementary school, Tom was just one of my parent's friends, although I had a lot of fun playing with his son Mark, who was a year older than me.

When I was in high school, our church was in the midst of a building program. Tom was a weekend co-worker on the roof, as we saved some of our church's budget by doing volunteer construction work on our new building. It was during this time that I first called him "Tom"; when you're shouting things like "there's a hammer falling!", it seemed rather silly to preface it with "hey, Mr. Warren". Somehow, "look out, Tom!" just made more sense.

And those of us in our youth group who had driver's licenses can all recall the terror of driving up the long driveway to Tom's house to drop off his daughter Christine after youth group or an outing of some kind. We will not soon forget the chill that went down our spines, seeing Tom's ominous silhouette in his front window, hands on hips, as Christine's curfew drew near. I can only imagine how it must have been for anyone dating her.

I remember Tom dropping me off at home one night, and sitting in my parents' driveway, chatting about discipleship and the book of James. I've never forgotten how "normal" it seemed to be having a casual, yet profound conversation between a church elder and a teenager.

Ever since Wendy and I were first married, Tom and his wife Joy have often gone out of their way to encourage and care for us. Because I respect (and admire) Tom's desire to "not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them" (Matthew 6:1-3), I won't give the specifics, but suffice it to say they both treated us in such a way that we knew we were loved and valued.

At the conclusion of our lunch yesterday, I reminded Tom of some of the things he'd said and done over the years that were a source of encouragement and true 'pastoral care' for Wendy and I. It was great for the two of us to have an opportunity to thank him for being such a positive example of what being an elder should look like.

It's important, as the verse at the beginning of this post says, to take note of those whose examples are worth following, and whenever possible, to also remember to say 'thank you', when the opportunity presents itself.
"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." (Hebrews 13:7)
Thank you, Tom. Today's church needs more elders like you.

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