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No Man is An Island
We are meant to learn and grow with those God sends to share our work. It's impossible to do otherwise.


"Harry, you've got to take a look at this!"

In his hand, Larry held a framed portrait of their two month old baby. It was a close-up, her tiny head cradled in his hand. I never cease to be amazed at the contrasting small size yet great impact of infants on the people around them.

… he was gifted in precisely the areas in which I felt inadequate … I had to tell Larry that we had no way to pay him …

She is, without a doubt, a beautiful child. The composition, focus, and quality of the photo was wonderful. Most striking, however, was the expression on her face. Her eyes had obviously fixed on some wonderful and intriguing object which remained unseen in the picture. Her eyes and facial expression held an amazing juxtaposition of trust and wonder, peace and pleasure.

Anticipating my question, Larry asked it for me. "Do you know what she's looking at?" He beamed as he answered his own question. "She's looking at me!"

Now it was his tone and expression that intrigued me. It was an almost teary-eyed joy. It was the humble exhilaration of a father who understood the implications of that baby's trust. While we celebrate the trust of our children, it can sometimes scare us, and it always humbles those aware of their own limitations.

Larry and his wife, Ida-Lynn, have been a huge blessing in my life. Our relationship speaks to friendship, mutual professional respect and a shared desire to always learn more and do better.

I still remember when I first talked with Larry about ten years ago. He had graduated from seminary with his Master's degree. His academic achievement was way above average and his potential in ministry was great. If he posted his resume, any number of churches would have been happy to have him.

I guess that's what surprised me as he talked to me.

He mentioned that several people who knew of his interest in inner-city ministry had prompted him to come talk to me. After asking a bit about myself and the church, he wondered if I would consider the possibility of him coming to work with me.

I had started to anticipate what he might ask, and I braced myself for disappointment. Something had clicked between us. Growing more frustrated with the limits of my abilities and leadership, it seemed he was gifted in precisely the areas in which I felt inadequate.

The problem was I had to tell Larry that we had no way to pay him what he had every right to demand. Inwardly, I bemoaned our lack of financial resources to hire someone who seemed so right for our work.

Larry shocked me with what he said next. He understood our financial situation. He said he would work as a caretaker in a downtown apartment block and try to find other ways to support his work with us.

It's been almost ten years since that initial meeting. Larry continues to pastor the church with me and is now paid by the church. He has married Ida-Lynn, who is also a blessing to many, serving as a physician in our community.

They've purchased a home in the community renovated by Lazarus Housing.

His strengths have complemented my weaknesses—and visa versa. Yet there is no hint of feeling threatened or being in competition. No "pulling rank" or talking behind each other's back.

… it's good to have someone I consider my pastor working alongside me.

His razor-sharp intellect and analytical skills are a blessing to the people around him. From comprehension of the world around him, to a heightened sense of compassion and perception in personal issues, it's good to have someone I consider my pastor working alongside me.

For the past few years he's been teaching and counselling in our church, and volunteering on community boards. Now he's also helping instruct seminarians in the realities of community work.

You may be wondering why this week I digress from tackling issues to discussing my friendship with a co-worker.

That's because We are meant to learn and grow with those God sends to share our work. It's impossible to do otherwise. People who challenge us from within a context of compassion, trust, and a shared vision.

I've always seen myself as a bit of a loner, orienting my life more around my tasks and vision than my relationships. In many ways and many places, I guess I care less about affection than achievement. I think it might be tough to do what I do if I were wired differently.

But it would be impossible to do what I do without some friends and co-workers like Larry.

Take a little time this week to appreciate those who help you do, and be, more than you are on your own.

Rev. Harry Lehotsky is the founding pastor of New Life Ministries in Winnipeg, MB. www.geocities.com/nlm514

Originally published in the Winnipeg Sun, February 1, 2004.

 

 
 
 
 

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