I’m into Velcro statements. Those that won’t fall off or away. Over the years [well, okay, more than five decades in ministry] some bear repeating…and never forgetting. I’ve always loved these:
…down deep he’s shallow.
…the wind found its voice.
…tears dropped from her chin.
It goes on…but those aren’t the point. What is the point is a new one has joined the list. It came this morning from Art Johnson, VP at McCoy Building Supply in San Marcos. I’ve bragged on Art before…he is a member of the First Christian Church in San Marcos. Worked with him during the year of my interim ministry. Now, though, it’s not pastor and parishioner. Now it’s a dear, dear brother in the faith with whom life and experiences are shared. Better than good.
Back to the new phrase. This morning in his voice-message report to all their employees, Art talked about McCoy building homes for the homeless…called micro-homes I believe. He visited with their leadership staff and described the head of it in this manner, “Luis has a purpose much bigger than his paycheck…he leads and lives with passion and compassion.”
That for me is a WOW moment…a Velcro statement.
And, as I shared with Art…it brought back someone who had every reason to make his paycheck more important than his purpose…but he didn’t. I share it with you, for the experience brought such goodness and verity. Yes, have shared before. But. Some illustrations can be preached more than once.
This line sticks: A purpose bigger than their paycheck.
How few people we meet who embrace that…even more, live that way.
So many consider their value defined by the dollar sign…that is, Donald Trump’s more important than…
I remember. It was 1967, my second year in ministry. My main responsibility at St. Pauls Church was to lead a 6-week day camp for 7-12 year olds. We had 100 kids or so and 20 high school counselors. We met 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There were 7 workshops led by adults. We recruited [literally] about 15 kids from the Green/Cabrini Homes south of North Avenue. [In those days North Avenue, going east and west, was a mile wide to African-Americans. We had two high school youth counselors from Green/Cabrini, George and Leo Blevins. George ended up getting a phD in physics or something like that and was a college professor!]
I wanted the program to support itself financially. We offered as many scholarships as possible—having an “economic margin” never occurred to us. But. I personally didn’t want one cent to lean into deficit. Our treasurer didn’t have a red-ink-pen.
Went to one of our church members, Mr. A.C. Buehler. I didn’t know it at the time, but Mr. Buehler, the CEO and President of Victor Comptometer [I knew that] was the 11th richest man in the country. Guess women didn’t count then on the earn-much-chart.
I asked him to underwrite the program. He handed me a $100 bill, “I get these at Bank Board meetings,” and told me to raise what I could but send him any bill at the end of the day camp program.
At a Church Council meeting the next week, with no little modesty I shared with the Council that Mr. Buehler was covering any expenses we couldn’t meet from other donors. They applauded. Nice. Then Mr. Buehler said, “Pastor Miller? Would your camp like to use our airplane?”
Confession: I thought of a 6-passenger Piper Cub..or something that flew with one engine.
Well. “Our airplane,” was a BAC-111 passenger jet, 75 seats that had been changed to a business jet with 30 seats. The WELL went to WOW.
On a glorious day in August of 1967, 110 kids and youth counselors and workshop leaders flew from Palwaukie Airport up and around Milwaukee. With every flight the two pilots had the kids come into the cockpit. Halfway through the schedule a limousine came across the tarmac. Mr. Buehler, who at his tip-toe height was maybe 5’4”, got out. Our group exploded in singing and clapping. Mr. Buehler smiled, tipped his hat [it was 90 degrees but Mr. Buehler loved hats], came to give me a special word, “Nice going, Pastor.”
That was one of the richest moments in my life. Beaming from his heart was joy and passion and compassion and incredible humility. I bet he didn’t even know what hubris was.
“A purpose much bigger than their paycheck.”