I'm sure that a few of my readers were wondering why I didn't mention Mike Waers in the two previous posts about influence, but I thought that he deserved his own entry.
I knew of Mike from his days at FSU and the campus ministry that he worked in there. He would periodically come down to TCC and speak as we continued to support him. It was about five years ago that he joined the Tomoka staff while I was already there as youth pastor. I can honestly say that since that time he has invested more in me than any other person.
We spent countless hours in Florida talking in his office and asking each other tough questions and seeking better ways to do things. He was willing to push my buttons (and often did!), but after reflecting on what he had to say he was right more often than not. I was able to watch him there and see how he interacted with people and the approach that he took to ministry. When he and Kathy left to come to Northridge it left a huge, gaping hole in my accountability and mentorship. The benefit of my time with him was clearly evident in the year that we spent apart as I can honestly say that my best year of ministry at Tomoka was my last year. I was able to put into practice the lessons that Mike had taught me and I feel that I had finally become a real pastor.
When things ended quickly in Florida, Mike was the first person that I called on the way home. He and Kathy cried and prayed for us and God used those circumstances to bring us here to live and work together again. Our roles have shifted here, but he still continues to teach me-more than he is even aware of. I see how he interacts with people in public, how he cares so deeply for the people of this church and this community, how he strives to always make things better, and yet seek God's will through every bit of it. He makes me aware of things that I don't see at first and pushes me to think carefully before I make a decision. We have had our volatile moments, but we love each other through them all and again-he's right more often than he's not.
My wife and I are more grateful for Mike and Kathy than they could ever know. We are thankful for their patience with us as we have healed from the painful departure from Florida. It is a privilege to serve here alongside them and to see the stretching influence that they have on our lives and it amazes me how God has brought us both here to serve and grow together.
I couldn't ask for a better friend, mentor and role model.