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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Lunch with Dr. Phil

Back when I was a part of the corporate world, I worked with this guy named Phil. I'm referring to him as Dr. Phil, because he's always a good one to go to for advice. Phil and I, during the boring parts of the day, would sit in his office and talk about the deeper things in life. We click. He's not bored by my deep thoughts and I'm not bored with his. Plus, he speaks a brand of conservatism that I not only love but very much believe in. And before you liberals start whining, understand that we use conservatism in the classical sense, not the bastardized American sense.

Phil also has the distinction of being my very first convert. (I know, God does it all, but just bear with me) Now, most of you who know me know that I'm not comfortable with the whole "shove it down people's throats" method of salvation. It was people like that who kept me out of church for a long time. Anyway, we often talk about faith and Christ and all that, always have. I knew he was an agnostic, and I didn't care. I loved him anyway. And one day, he comes to me and tells me that he's been born again-and it's thanks to the example I led in his life. So it was pretty cool, especially considering he is very close friends with one of the leading experts in modern worship today, and it was my testimony that spoke to him.

Why am I telling this story? Well, it's not to toot my own horn, even though I, having no gifts for evangelism, am pretty psyched that God used me anyway. But that is the point... God will use you in whatever way He sees fit, and you never know when that's going to happen.

Which was exactly the point of my lunch with Dr. Phil. When we first met, I was a newlywed, he was an oldlywed to a woman he loved very much. He was a mentor in some respects. Then his life fell apart, wife informed him that she didn't love him, asked for a divorce, and went her merry way. He turned to alcohol, and struggled with an addiction for a couple of years before seeking help. I never knew he had a problem until he was active in AA and had stayed sober for a while. I remember how his voice trembled when he told me about it, like he was afraid I'd reject him. I just loved him and told him I'd wished I'd known so I could have helped him through it. He reassured me, saying that I had helped him through it. Because I was the only person he knew who'd been willing to live the gospel in his life, and who'd made him hunger for God so that when the time came to battle his addiction, he had Christ on his side.

When I arrived at the office on the day I started my job and met this funny looking, nerdy accountant, I had no idea that I'd make an impact on his life. I had no idea that this guy, who seemingly had it all together, was on the verge of completely losing it, and that when he did lose it, no one would know. But because I was real with him, God was able to use me in his life. And even though he hid his problems and his addictions behind a smile and a bottle of alcohol, God was there, supporting him.

You don't ever know the lives you're going to impact-sometimes until the time has long past. It struck me most today, because he revealed some depths in the loss of his wife that I hadn't known. And here's the cool thing. I talk about how I never would have known the impact I made on his life by meeting him and sharing with him. There's this girl in his life, a woman now, that he'd become a surrogate father to years ago when he was her teacher. Back then, he'd had no idea how badly she'd need a father figure in her life. He'd had no idea that his love and caring for her sustained her and her family through some rocky times. It's a seed that has taken years to germinate, and this weekend, as she walks down the aisle, he's going to give her away.

I'm becoming more and more aware of my actions, as I see how Phil's life has been impacted as a result of my being in it. I look back at how others have impacted my life, both negatively and positively. And when I look at my role in the lives of others, I hope that there's more people than not who can say I had a positive impact. I don't expect that everyone will be like Phil, and it will be significantly better, but I do hope that the people who I encounter will find that their lives will be better, not worse, for having met me.

6 comments:

Bailey Stewart said...

That's exactly why It's a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies. It reminds me that in some way, no matter how small, I have impacted someone's life.

Tori Lennox said...

What an awesome story!

Camy Tang said...

That's a good reminder for me. I'm so selfish and prickly, I have a hard time being nice--much less a positive influence--to anybody. Gotta work harder at that.
Camy

Jana said...

What a wonderfully touching story.

You know, that's one of my daily prayers...to let me be a witness for Him through my life.

Heather Diane Tipton said...

this is a very good post, my friend. makes me think... and I didn't want to do that tonight.

By the way... you have made a positive impact on my life...

Danica/Dream said...

Thanks guys! It is a good reminder-you just never know which of your actions will influence someone. I never imagined I'd end up being a witness to this guy.