“My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived
and let me watch him do it.” Clarence Budington Kelland
Where are the role models? Where does a boy or young man turn to learn to be a man today? Where do you look to learn what it means to be a husband, father or even a grandfather? Who’s your example on what it means to be an employee, neighbor, friend or Christian?
We need role models. Every man needs to ask himself: Who is my role model and why? There are many potential “role models” out there. Yet, who is truly worthy of emulating? For the most part, not sports stars, movie stars or business leaders. A cursory examination of their lives quickly reveals that though they seem to have it all, they lack that which has true significance. Too many have a long history of broken relationships and lack character. Young men often will idolize their father. With the breakdown of the home, that can be a recipe for future disaster. Do they want to be like a father who failed at being a husband and father? So, where can we turn?
God’s Word commands the local church to choose godly men as leaders, (1 Timothy 3:1-13). It’s noteworthy that what the world values is not on God’s list for what the church is to value. Essentially, it’s an anti-world checklist. At Grace we’re very blessed with godly men who serve as Deacons and as our Seniors Citizens Pastor. They’re not perfect. They, too, are sinners saved by grace, yet they love the Lord and seek to follow Him. So, if you’re looking for a role model, you don’t have to look very far.
Travis Brinks. You don’t have to be around Travis long to discover that Travis deeply loves two people – his wife, Amy, and his daughter, Eva. Though a young man, Travis has maturity beyond his years. Serious, yet he doesn’t take life too seriously. He’s one of the most even tempered men that I’ve ever met. He also has a deeply tender side and loves people. He has a sharp mind, yet Travis has something much greater than intellect. He has wisdom. He’s willing to step out on faith and take risks, even with people, yet is never foolhardy. Compassion is one of his greatest strengths.
Bruce Ranke. I’ve met few leaders over the years who wear the coat of humility as well as Bruce. It’d embarrass him for someone to suggest he’s humble, but he is. Continually, self-abasing yet gifted and talented. Bruce has a very rare gift in our sports obsessed culture – he’s an athlete and avid competitor, yet at the end of the day, he knows that “it’s only a game.” He has a dry wit that sneaks up on you, yet doesn’t take life too seriously. Maybe it’s from growing up on a farm, I’m not sure. Bruce won’t settle for the status quo or “pat answers.” One of his greatest values on our leadership team is his willingness to think outside of the box and ask the hard questions. He’s committed to his wife, Debbie, and their three, now adult sons, parents and grandchildren. There’s a tenderness that always touches my heart as I watch him interact with his granddaughter. He’s a godly man who is both tough and tender.
Ron Strelow. If you look up the word “dependable” in the dictionary, you might find Ron’s picture. Not flashy, yet steady. Ron never wants to be a bother, yet seemingly is never bothered at being “bothered.” Like our other leaders, Ron is known for his kindness. Ron is able to step back, be objective and biblically problem-solve. On Sundays it’s often Ron who initiates praying for the worship service. No fanfare, yet he knows that this is God’s work and needs His empowerment and blessing. Gentle spirited enough to minister to children yet strong enough to stand for biblical convictions and worldview. Ron has the gift of listening, a gift that’s increasingly rare.
Ray Ziebell. If you walk through the doors at Grace and Ray doesn’t introduce himself, it’s because he was out of town. Ray was the first leader that I met when I came to Grace in 1988 and has been my friend and partner in ministry for some 31 years. Ray has many gifts and passions, yet his one consuming passion is that he wants to share with others that Jesus died for their sins, they too can be forgiven and go to heaven. Another humble man, Ray is quick to admit his failings and shortcomings, even if he’s the only one who sees them. He’s toughest on himself. Nearly insatiably curious about the wonder of creation, his passion for what God is doing is wonderfully infectious. He’s a friend to the friendless and filled with incredible Christlike optimism. Nearly sixty years ago, Ray received God’s generous grace and like his Lord is generous with his life.
Gary Thompson. They say that “still waters run deep.” That’s Pastor Gary Thompson. His two primary loves in his life that he never stops talking about are Jesus Christ and his wife, Nancy. Though quiet and non-assuming, he’s a man of great discernment. God has already used him at Grace to touch the lives of our older saints. They’ve quickly found in Pastor Gary a man that befriends others and cares for them easily. He has deep faith, is willing to ask questions and graciously disagree without being disagreeable. We were blessed when Gary and Nancy walked through our doors and doubly blessed when Gary agreed to join our ministry team.
Great men, true heroes whose lives count for eternity, are rarely found in a sports arena or under the glare of stage lights. They’re not often found in the halls of Wall Street or the corridors of Congress. Those men and their “accomplishments are truly here today and gone tomorrow.” As the Psalmist said, they’re like “grass…in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.” The men our world honors often only have gifts for this short, vaporous life.
You have to look for them, but God continues to raise up men of character and godliness for His Kingdom. Men whose examples we all would do well to emulate, they live for eternity. They are in a constant personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
All of us follow someone. Who are you following? Rubbing shoulders with you week after week at Grace are men who are godly examples of what it means to be a man who has a heart for Jesus and pleases His Lord.
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.