I met Mike at a men's retreat. He was the camp director. Two years later I met him again, and within two months I had been hired as the camp's first full-time program director. Mike and I worked closely for the next twelve years. We have stayed close ever since.
Of course we had our ups and downs, our times when we just needed to get away from each other, and our times of disagreement. After all, we were complete opposites.
And yet we came to love each other. We trusted each other enough to accept each other's strong convictions even when we weren't convinced. Mike allowed me to try an incredible number of new programs, games and ways of doing things. Many failed, and yet he trusted me to keep inventing and keep innovating.
Most succeeded, and many of those programs, games and systems are still in place. I was back for a men's retreat recently with one of my sons, and I had to smile every time the guys would talk about a "new" game or innovation the staff were doing. They never need to know that several of those new things were created 20 or 25 years ago.
Because I had a director named Mike who believed in me, we were able to build things that still last today. But things don't matter. They don't last.
The greatest achievement we accomplished together was to mentor staff and draw campers into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing else mattered if we succeeded in that. Mike was passionate about his love for Jesus and his desire to see others fall in love with Him.
Mike is with Jesus now, celebrating the lives he impacted for the kingdom of God. I only pray that I will be as faithful, live as passionately, and die as gracefully as my friend Mike. I praise God for his influence in my life. I look forward to the big camp reunion we will have in heaven as we enjoy eternal life with Jesus.
Who has influenced your life for Christ? Better yet, whose life are you influencing for Jesus Christ?