All of us have blind spots in our lives, things about ourselves we simply cannot see. Sometimes we’re blind to our immaturity, and other times we’re completely blind to our abilities. The older I get the more I’m not sure which form of blindness is the most detrimental. I think both are probably equally problematic. I thank God for the people in my life who spoke to both forms of my personal blindness. I’m particularly grateful to the Dean of my Seminary (Western Seminary) who saw something in me that I never saw in myself. Truth be told, the only reason I originally went to seminary was so that I could be a “biblically trained rock star.” I wanted to rock for Jesus like Bono, and I wanted to know God’s word while I pursued that dream. Of course I thought God had signed on the dotted line of this unstated contract, and of course He declined to sign my silly contract. Instead seminary became my opportunity to grow in new ways, discover things about myself I did not know, and discover things I was afraid to know about myself. Dr. David Eckman was a pastoral voice in my life who believed I had something important to share in the kingdom of God. I distinctly remember when he called me into his office at the end of my seminary career. He sat me down and said, “Andy I would like you to speak at our fund-raising dinner about how God used your seminary experience at Western. There will be a lot of important people at this event and I think you would do a great job.” I was immediately honored and scared, but for some strange reason I said I’d do it. On the night of the event I had to follow the president emeritus of the seminary – a man who was and still is highly revered and respected in evangelical church circles. He spoke with power, conviction, and passion. Then it was my turn. Gulp! I got up and shared my paltry five minutes worth of thoughts and then sat down. The moment I sat down Dr. Eckman whispered in my ear, “You outshone our president. What you said needed to be the centerpiece of this night more than everything else he said.”
I couldn’t believe Dr. Eckman had picked me out of the crowd to say anything on this important night, and I even more couldn’t believe he would say such a bold thing to a punk like me. I even more couldn’t believe it in the years to come when he gave me opportunity after opportunity to speak, as his representative, in large influential churches and teach the Word of God in pulpits I had no business standing behind.
Pastors are at their best when they see the skills, the gifts and potential that the sheep under their care cannot see in themselves. I thank you Dr. Eckman for opening a whole new field of opportunity in ministry I never would have had unless you’d seen something in me I never would have seen in myself.
Do any of you have pastors who have done the same for you?