E-pistle May 1

My World’s Most Influential People
This week’s Time magazine features a list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People. The list is divided into five categories: Leaders and Revolutionaries, Builders and Titans, Artists and Entertainers, Heroes and Icons, Scientists and Thinkers.  Interestingly, the two people whose influence on the world is most directly related to the practice of Christian faith, purpose-driven Rick Warren and Philadelphia’s own Sister Mary Scullion, are relegated to the Heroes and Icons list along with the likes Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, George Clooney and Sarah Palin.  Christians were once considered the world’s best (or worst, depending on your point of view) revolutionaries. 
Time’s list has set me to thinking about the most influential people in my own world.  I’m pretty sure that as soon as I post this, I’ll think of someone else, but here’s my first attempt at My World’s Most Influential People in four categories:
Family:  Becky tops this list.  Her influence in my life is huge as God has used her many gifts and abilities for 31+ years to help shape and mold me into the person I am.  Our children, Katharine, Christopher and Alanna also have huge influence in my world, first as I sought to nurture and encourage them and now as each has become a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ reflecting his ways back to me. And having just spent some time with my mother and one of my sisters, I am reminded of just how important those family of origin relationship are in forming us into the people God calls us to be. 
Friends and Colleagues: I have always thought that one of God’s richest blessings in my life has been the friends and professional colleagues who have been a part of my life in every season and at every stop.  Among them are Sam, Joe, Jeff, Chris, Brown, Mark, Larry and Kent. God has applied their faithfulness and honesty in my life to call forth my own faithfulness and, I hope, honesty. 
People from the Past: Among the several people from my first church call as a youth director in California are three men God used in mighty ways to help me see his plans and purposes in my life; two Bobs and a Norm. I spent time with each of them last week. The first Bob is good and kind and taught me much about goodness and kindness as we led countless youth and family wilderness expeditions in the High Sierra; Bob knew the mountains (and the God who created them) and I led the Bible studies and devotions.  Bob is now 95 and doesn’t make it to the mountains anymore, but he is still kind and good and I thank God for him.  The second Bob was the chair of the Christian Education Committee that hired me as youth director and helped me learn what ministry is all about.  Bob taught me about leadership and vision.  This Bob is 84 and still goes to work every day and still has gifts of vision and leadership.  Our conversation never lags.  Norm was a youth group advisor during my time as youth director – we’ve spent countless nights playing basketball and volleyball in the church gym and on weekend ski trips first with junior high and then with high school students.  But mostly Norm has taught me about friendship and when we get together 30 years after I quit being youth director to his kids, he still teaches me about godly friendship. 
People in the Present:  No names here, and for obvious reasons I won’t tell you much about them.  But most of them are Langhorne Presbyterians and God is using them in wonderful ways for his perfect purposes. 
How about you?  If you had to name the most influential people in your life, who would they be?  And how has God used them to form you into the person you are?