Greatest Life Lessons From A Mentor Part 2

I’ve been discussing the lifelong influence that my pastor, Gary Grogan, has had on me.  When people hear I’ve been with him for 25 years, they gasp.  I tell them, “Don’t worry, some of it has been good.”  But he has definitely been a spiritual father to countless young men and women aspiring to the higher calling.  I remember when I was a freshman at the U of I, he’d call me up and ask if I’d accompany him as he spoke in some Chicago church.  He said he wanted me to help out and pray at the altars for people.  By the time we hit Gibson City, about 30 minutes outside of Urbana, he’d tell me how tired he was from Sunday morning and that he needed me to drive.  I soon realized why I was there!  To be his driver and carry his brief case!!  Haha.

But it was so much more than that.  His car became a classroom for me as he’d share precious life lessons with me.  Stories of his Pentecostal heritage, struggles growing up in a poor family, Bible College and ministry experiences.  It was an invaluable investment into my life.  These are more of the things he’s taught me…

5. Be a Lifter, not a Limiter.   In a world of sarcasm and sitcom cut down humor, it’s easy to feel demoralized and discouraged, that on top of the negative comments that people have already grown up with.  PG has always helped people to believe for the impossible and to just go for it.  We need to invest in somebody, take a risk in this new generation, and believe in someone.  We need to encourage someone and take ‘em with us, helping them to avoid mistakes we’ve made.  We should hope for them to have it better than we did.  Our desire to be needed is outshadowed by our desire to be exceeded.  See in people the potential that God sees:  Love the unlovable and touch the untouchable.

4. Be a Worker, not a Wuss!  Prove the anthropologists wrong about Generations X and Y.  Work Hard!  We’re called to be servants.  “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thes. 3:10).  If we want results, it takes work.  With too many young ministers, it’s about getting paid, picking up benefits, and promised opportunities.  Ministry is not just about preaching.  There are 167 other hours in the week.  I remember years ago a freshman kept reminding me that he played the keyboard and hinted that he wanted to be part of our worship team.  In those days, it took hours to pack up, set up, and clean up for Excel.  When it was time to load the vans, he’d always just stand there talking to people.  He again said to me, “You know I can play that keyboard.”  My response:  “You’ll get to play that keyboard when you learn how to carry it.”  Unfortunately, he never did.

3. Have fun.  Get the major stick out of your butt!  PG taught me we don’t have to be serious and somber all the time.  He taught me how to have fun, sit back and relax.  He works hard.  But he also plays hard.  It’s help me to lighten up.  Now it’s my constant goal to shock him. Some of most my embarrassing, memorable, laughable, most fun moments have been with him.  I was hanging out with another friend, Joel Gross, who was getting ready to do ministry in Uptown, Minneapolis.  After several days of acting goofy in front oh him and getting weird stares, I finally remarked “I’ll act my age when I get married.”  He said, “Please don’t.”  YAY!!!

2. Let God.   When times are tough, we feel like giving up, we see no hope on the horizon, and it seems impossible…think on these words…AND THEN GOD.  The one with whom all things are possible.  As we serve Him, we gain the faith that can move mountains, open doors, blind eyes, and deaf ears!  We just need to learn how to get out of the way at the proper moment.

1. Dream BIG!!!!

  • When an 18-year old wanted to start a XA group at the U of I…
  • When a 20-year old wanted to start a campus church…
  • When a 22-year old wanted to go into ministry (having no Bible college education or the ability to put two spiritual words together, etc.)…
  • When he wanted to start a Master’s Commission program…
  • When he wanted to reach out to the LGBT Community …
  • When he wanted to reach out to East Urbana and possibly launch a church…
  • Whenever he wanted to do something great for God…

Whenever I got a cockamamie idea in my craw, he’d tell me, ”I’d rather you fail trying than not trying at all.”  After all, when we do something for God, can we really fail?

So many other things I can throw in there.  Obviously the basics were solid.  He’s definitely a man of prayer.  Nothing impresses a young mind more than hearing their pastor cry out to God.  I now keep prayer at the center of Excel.  He devours the Word.  He studies like no one I know.  And because of his hunger for wisdom, God has given it to him to impart to others.

I’m quite a bit older now.  I’ve graduated from the U of I, been ordained with the Assemblies of God, had my moments at camps, conferences, youth rallies, outreaches; and developed different ministries God’s entrusted to me.  Despite that, I’d still carry his briefcase everyday of the week and twice on Sundays.

“We need you. We need your youth. We need your strength. We need your idealism to help us make right that which is wrong. Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we’ve ever known.” – President Ronald Reagan, 1981 Commencement Address at Notre Dame University

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