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Paying Tribute to My Spiritual Influencers

By September 15, 2008Christians, Church, Life Plan

Listening to Andy Stanley of Northpoint preach recently on providential relationships that impact our spiritual life reminded me of some of the men in my life who encouraged my spiritual growth the most. 

Dennis Newkirk was my pastor when I was in my early twenties and just beginning to get serious about my Christian life.  I grew up in church, but as typical for high school and college years, I wandered from my roots.  I continued to be a leader in other areas.  Dennis recognized this in me and recruited me as a leader in the church. His teaching was the most practical and life-changing I had ever heard. I will never forget the day he pulled me aside and said, “Ron, you are a giant-killer.  Go kill some giants!”  That word became the challenge of my heart that remains today. 


Tommy Rowell was an interim music minister at our church.  I was going through one of the most difficult years of my life.  One night Tommy showed up at my door.  He even came to the back door. I didn’t know Tommy, but God had shared with Tommy that I needed a friend. I did.  Tommy and I became great friends. I learned from Tommy the value of guy friends.  I learned how two men can hug one another and even say they love each other, without it being too weird.  (It still is not something I do naturally, but I ain’t scared of it.)  Tommy’s friendship launched my desire to minister to men who were just as empty of healthy male relationships as I once was.


David Atchison has a similar story to mine, coming into the ministry after years in the business world.  When I became interested in men’s ministries, David was one of the first people I met.  We shared the same heart, had similar Kingdom passions, and just enjoyed each other’s company.  I asked David to mentor me for a couple years.  His insight into God’s Word, especially in the areas of grace and our identity as believers, greatly shaped my theology and understanding of who I am in Christ.  Interesting, David was part of a church plant named Grace Community Church almost 10 years before we launched our own Grace Community Church. 


There have been dozens of others I could have mentioned, these were just the three that came to mind first. Who have been some of the providential relationships in your life that have helped shape you into the believer you are today?  Feel free to pay tribute to them by commenting to this post.  (Then forward it to them.) 

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Tommy Rowel says:

    Ron….much humbled to see myself as a component of grace and friendship in your life. I’m grateful for once upon a time having been useful and treasure your friendship as always. It was a two way street. You provided healthy friendship to me in a time that my life was undergoing transition from front-line ministry to the back seat of the crowd in preparation for the next big step in my life. You are and will always be a blessing to me, and I am thrilled to see how you are ministering so wonderfully today. God has brought you into a spacious place, but I will always be glad to have shared the time in the wilderness with you.

  • Tony Hill says:

    I’m listening to this same message series as well… great stuff.

    You are actually on my list of providential relationships.

  • Cheryl says:

    Oops – leave it to an accountant not to be able to count – that was more than three!!!

  • Cheryl says:

    I have had many people who have played a major role in my spiritual growth, but the three that come to mind almost immediately are 1) The first one is my husband Ron who has served many roles in my spiritual walk – mentor/encourager, Sunday School teacher, Pastor and most of all – a role model of someone who’s greatest heart’s desire is to live for Christ’s glory; 2) our two amazing boys with two very unique personalities but have hearts to serve Jesus each in their own way. To be as spiritually mature at such a young age is a true example of God’s amazing grace. 3) If I start naming all the women in my life who have played a role in shaping me into the person I am today – the list would be too long for this post. I decided to highlight the three who cam to mind first: Judy Weiland who has been my spiritual mother shortly after I became a Christian. Judy has invested countless hours in me and I thank her for that! Imilse Watts played such a huge role even though God allowed our time to be cut way too short! Imilse – I wouldn’t wish you back from the AWESOME eternal life you are living now in Heaven but I do miss you dealy my friend! And Gina Ateca who we laughingly say we don’t remember when we became friends – just seems like we always have been! Gina always knows when I need a hug the most! And the many other women who have touched my life in big and small ways – I thank you for allowing God to touch my life and mold me into the person I am and strive to be each and every day! Numbers 6: 24-26