He was 57 (same age as me) and had roles in sit-coms like The Cosby Show. He had taught, acted, and directed in the Hollywood industry for over 30 years. And during a time of transition, he was working at a Trader Joe’s to make ends meet. But someone took and posted online his picture bagging groceries — the Twitter world went all a frenzy. Some job shamed him for doing such work.
He was a pastor of a mega church (fastest growing in America at one point) and an author. And yes, circumstances had him removed from his pastorate and from the ministry for a while. And in this day and age, to have a restart is a difficult path. Some have written him off.
He was a pastor, surrendering to the call to preach in his 40s. His first and only church took a heavy toll. After some family health crisis and loss of his wife, he stepped away from the ministry for a bit. This time of transition was not easy and times were lean.
All of these have something in common. They are a picture of God’s grace and of the important and positive role other people played in their lives.
The first had scores of supporters contact him with support. Celebrities reached out and publicly gave an outpouring of encouragement. Some job offers have surfaced. The individual himself even turned the conversation into a discussion on the dignity of work – all work. Wow! Now my position as a table cleaner and Night Auditor have an advocate.
The second was taken in by a fellow megachurch pastor for a time of restoration and healing. This pastor now has started a new church – Second Chance. This is not about the discussion if coulda, woulda, shoulda … but is an example of kindness, compassion, grace, and second chances. It is an example of how one person can be used by God to help turn around the direction of brother caught headed in a bad direction.
The third is more personal, this man is one I call friend. I know God has and will continue to use him. He no longer pastors, but is a chaplain – and I can say that I believe this is where his strengths and gifts shine. Friendship Baptist had a role in his life. FBC showed compassion, encouragement, and support. I truly believe we were God’s instrument in his life. And as a chaplain that visits my mother and her husband, I can say we are truly blessed by his ministry.
Three lives – three stories – and while each story is unique, there is a common theme of grace and encouragement. Each are pictures of how we can have an impact on others and how others can have an impact on us – for you may be the person caught in hard times.
So today, who is crossing your path that may need a word or action of encouragement? Don’t ignore these opportunities – you may never realize the impact you can have.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.