Thursday, March 26, 2009

LESSONS FROM THE DEATH OF A FRIEND

Recently, I learned that a dear friend in the ministry passed away. Phil Childress and I met at Clemson. He was one of the first guys I ever discipled. I can still remember sitting in his dorm room going over his weekly schedule. He claimed he didn't have enough time to keep serving in Campus Crusade. I "busted" him because he had blocked out every weekend as fun time. So, no wonder he had no time to be in a Bible study and lead another one. He was too busy having fun.

We grew in Christ together. He was in our wedding back in '76. God called him into the ministry as well. We were in Southwestern Seminary together. And later I was in his wedding in Arkansas. Phil stayed in Texas where he served on staff at FBC, Oakcliffe. Then he and some others branched out and planted a new church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

We would talk occasionally and catch up on family and ministry. Several years ago he stopped by and we spent the day together. He was bombarding me with questions about CBC and ministry in general.

For many months he had been on a liver transplant watch. When the time came, he received the transplant. But one complication after another took his life. His passing hit me hard.

If there is one thing God has taught me (or rather reminded me) in his passing is the importance of making disciples. It was through Campus Crusade that I learned how important it is to pour my life into a handful of people to help them reach their fullest potential in Christ. Knowing God used me in Phil's life brings me great joy. How did this discipling process happen? We studied the Word together; we did ministry together; we prayed together; we dreamed together....

Isn't that how disciples are still produced? Phil's passing has caused me to do some soul searching. Who am I discipling? Who am I studying God's Word with? What emerging leaders do I need to invest time with? What seasoned leaders do I still need to connect with?

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 4). How true! May making disciples forever be a top priority in my life.

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