I’ve been friends with Jim for over a quarter of a century. I love him like a brother. But sometimes, he makes me roll my eyes. I cringe at his football-coach fashion… He has a way of making bombastic statements that cause me duck my head and look over my shoulder, worried about other people overhearing… And when he turns on his Poorman Powers of Persuasion, I usually want to dig a hole and crawl in… Basically we’re just two very different people. However, Jim’s flying into Ohio today. And as I waited to pick him up at the airport this afternoon, I started thinking about all the different ways that I find myself appreciating Jim.
I get to introduce Jim to a bunch of new people this weekend. So, I spent some time thinking about how to set the stage for others appreciating Jim as much as I have learned to appreciate him. And as I let my mind wander in that space, it became clear that I have a significant debt of gratitude to my friend Jim.
- Jim gave me a vision for what it could be to embody ”cool” and ”Christian” at the same time. Especially with his 1990s “hockey hair” and openness to secular music.
- Jim played a key role in creating a strong cohort of leaders at H2O Bowling Green. Over time, many of these men have come to play some of the most marked and enduring leadership roles in our network. Matt Pardi… Jason Slack… Chad Frank… Bryan Wiles… Matt Olszewski… and me. We all have Jim to thank for a strong start in church leadership.
- He demonstrated a heart for outward engagement at a very formative phase in my spiritual development.
- Jim was open and honest about his own struggles. He modeled ministry, marriage, mental health, transition, loneliness, and pastoral ministry (especially dealing with ”wolves” trying to prey on the ”flock”).
- Jim played a key role in expanding my vision for the Great Commission, making disciples and planting churches. He was with me on my first real visit to Amsterdam (outside of the airport).
- Jim played the role of co-officiant (with my Dad) at Marci’s and my wedding!
- Jim prioritized keeping in touch, even as we moved thousands of miles away from each other. Specifically, and most meaningfully, he traveled all the way to Amsterdam on more than one occasion to visit us, encourage us, and do ministry together.
- Jim made the magical Winter of 2012 exponentially more epic for our family. He brought ice skates for everyone in our family. And he used his Poorman Powers of Persuasion to gain entrance into the legendary Keizersrace.
- He’s a rare example of someone ten years older than me who’s still endeavoring to do the same things I’m doing in ministry.
You can’t possibly get a true sense of the Poorman Experience without actually spending some time with him. So, I’m hoping that my friends in Kent will get to make the most of the opportunity this weekend. He’s not perfect. But he is definitely a good friend.