It is my hope many of you have experienced the privilege of knowing someone older than yourself who chose to invest in you.
Some of the greatest blessings have been men and women who were contemporaries of my parents and even grandparents who took the time and interest in sharpening my personhood.
Some tenets of the Christian faith call for older men and women to literally disciple those younger than themselves as an obligation to their stage of age, influence and authority.
Every once in a while, you can tell when a person’s time and influence is due to a sense of obligation or whether it is simply rooted in the joy of iron sharpening iron as described in Proverbs 27:17.
A few years ago, an older acquaintance of mine agreed to have lunch with me to discuss some deep subjects I was confronting in business and in life. The thing to look for in such brokers of wisdom is whether they give you answers to your questions or whether they reflect on deeper questions to ponder on your journey.
Those who cultivate more questions are the ones to look for, by the way.
My friend answered my inquiries with stories and sometimes with his own experiences and frustrations.
At one point, my question for him was what finishing well in his life would look like.
He told me he had grown weary of travel at around 75 and was most interested in connecting with his wife, family and friends in different circumstances in the yearshe had left. He had already accomplished much.
Writing was on the list.
He always had a twinkle in his eye when he would tell a story or a quote from a great historical icon.
We saw each other about six weeks ago and agreed it was time to have lunch again.
He stopped by my office and left a copy of his most recent book with a kind note written in the front pages. I was sad to have missed him. It would have been a fun visit.
You could have argued he was obligated to invest in me as a pastor since he was called to cultivate the flock.
But with Paul Powell it was no obligation. He poured wisdom and encouragement into my life as an act of joy, not obedience.
Now his joy is complete as I’m certain when he arrived at his final reward a host was ready to meet him with a, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
May my friend and this community’s friend Paul Powell rest in peace.