Do You Have
by Norma J. Goldman
As I write these words, I’ve set aside my work for the rest of the morning to attend the “celebration of life” service for a much-loved member of our church family. If you asked me to define servant leadership, his name would probably come to mind first. Bill loved the Lord, His Word, and His church. He loved his wife Elsie and their girls, and you could not miss his passion for any of these roles.
It would be impossible to calculate the impact of his life and witness on this world and the next. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul summarized his life and work by saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” The same could be said of Bill.
He maintained a consistent testimony throughout his 52-year marriage to Elsie, in his relationships with his daughters, grandchildren, and all others in their extended family. In every setting—business, church, or play—he spoke often and lovingly of these important relationships and their impact on his life. He was deeply concerned for the spiritual welfare of his family and others God placed in his path. Bill pointed them to Jesus with obvious compassion.
The people who worked beside him report the same godly, consistent witness over many years. While he skillfully led his organization to a high level of competency and productivity, he found time to inquire about staff concerns, families, and personal aspirations. His coworkers speak of his effectiveness as a leader but quickly emphasize his greater role as friend and spiritual mentor.
He was the same “go-to” person at church. His guidance helped his faith family through some challenging times, and his pastor routinely sought Bill’s wise counsel with confidence and trust. Of all the places he served, I believe he shone brightest in pastoral care. His face was a familiar sight in the hospitals in our community, and doctors and nurses felt comfortable calling for Bill’s assistance to meet the needs of those beyond his own church family, those who had no one to pray for them, read Scripture, or speak words of comfort.
It was in the context of the sick, hurting, and lonely that you could see his compassion most closely. He ministered faithfully to four critically ill friends of mine, all hospitalized at different times. After extended treatment, three of them went home to be with the Lord, and a fourth miraculously survived fungal meningitis. As Bill visited with her, she was deeply touched at his concern for her spiritual wellbeing. When Ellen was released after nearly six months of hospitalization, Bill contacted me to ask for a convenient time to visit my friend and her husband at home, believing she had spiritual needs to be met. Bill did not leave work unfinished.
Not many weeks after this incident, God determined that it was time for Bill to come home. Though he left a big hole in our congregation, we cannot help but rejoice with Elsie, knowing that he is with the One he has introduced to so many. Our pastor asked, “What will we do without Bill?” and in the next breath, he said, “I guess we will just have to be Bill to each other.”
Paul said, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).What are your plans for finishing strong? Will you be “Bill” to someone today?
About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma J. Goldman enjoys a successful freelance career in her retirement. The award-winning writer lives near Nashville, Tennessee. Learn more about retirement options at www.boardofretirement.com