Pop-Pop’s Quiet Servant Leadership

My Pop-Pop was a man of few words.  I don’t remember him speaking at great lengths for any reason.  Giving a speech in front of people would have been one of the last things I would have ever imagined him doing.  He was rather a man that quietly went about his business regardless of anyone noticing it or not.

I can remember as a child seeing him sitting at the dining room table on a Saturday night queuing up the cassette tapes for Sunday’s worship service.  Then on Sunday morning he would quietly sit in the back of the sanctuary playing those very tapes at just the right time in the worship so we all could give our worship and praise to God.

Most people didn’t even notice what he did but I knew.  Each week I knew how he served whether anyone else saw it or not.

That was Pop-Pop.  He was a man of very few words.  He went about serving those he loved, doing the very best he could without fanfare or recognition.  

One of my fondest memories is waking up at Grammy & Pop-Pop’s with him nudging me awake so I could get breakfast while it was still warm & he could finish resetting the beds.  Then later in the day he would drive my brother, me & Grammy for whatever shopping or fun we all had planned together.  Whatever it is was we did he was there taking care of us the best he knew, or could, do for us.

Pop-Pop was not perfect.  He had his own struggles.  But no matter what they were I knew he loved me and his whole family.  He did not run away.  He did not give up.  He strove each day to do and give his very best for his family. 

I learned a lot from him without really ever knowing it in the moment.  As a kid I simply watched him and noticed what he did for us.

When he fought against cancer I saw the love and commitment Grammy and him had for each other.  They never gave up.  They fought together against cancer.  They loved each other through it all.  They served each other every step of the way.

I was privileged to witness first hand their love for each other the final weeks of his life.  Grammy and I walked the mile plus to the hospital every morning to visit him and be with him until the nurses kicked us out.  Then we would walk that same mile back to the apartment to simply sleep and repeat it again the next day.  

He fought so hard against the cancer.  He beat it twice for it only to come back again.  But despite the diagnosis he fought and took care of his family.  He loved us and served us to the very end.

I will never forget that morning we got the call from the hospital.  Vividly in my dream an angel told me to not answer the phone no matter what.  Tia Alice would tell me later that day how Pop-Pop commented to her the day he died he would be going home soon.  Home, as we realized a mere 24 hours later, meant home to Jesus Christ.  He fought so valiantly against cancer and just like that he was gone.

As quietly as he served those he loved he returned home to his Savior in Heaven.

I was only 11 when he was called home to Heaven.  It was only over the years that I truly have come to understand his quiet leadership.  Now, I strive to be like him each day.

I learned from his example to not give up.  To take each day as a fresh start and to strive to do better.  He was a living example to me of God’s abundant grace and our human striving to give back to God as best we can.

There was not a huge parade when he passed away.  But those he loved and who loved him felt the loss.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t remember him sitting at the kitchen table reading a library book while eating lunch.  Each time I serve at church as a sound tech I remember him playing those tapes at church when I was kid and think I am carrying on his ministry in a new generation.

What I learned the most from him is that a leader is not necessarily the person up front with the microphone with the loudest voice or personality.

A leader is also the quiet individual in the dark corner of the worship center ensuring everything is set and ready to go when needed.  Empowering everyone else in the room to be able to give his/her own best to our Father in Heaven Who loves us no matter what. 

Quiet leadership is easily forgotten because it does not draw attention to itself naturally.  It sees a needs and fills it simply because it needs to be done.  No fanfare is needed. Pop-Pop taught me that.  

Serve as God calls and equips you to serve.  If people notice, cool.  If they don’t, that’s okay too.  We serve God and at the end of the day that is all that matters.  

Pop-Pop may have been a man of few words but he spoke volumes through his life.  I am who I am today because of him. I know it is okay to be quiet, serve people and give God the praise and glory.

Pop-Pop is one my heroes in life, faith and ministry.  His name won’t be recorded in any history books but I will never forget all that he did for me.  He was the greatest teacher I ever had in servant leadership.  He first taught me how to be a quiet leader.  

Now I strive each day in my own ministry to be like Jesus as he was.  I will make mistakes.  I will struggle.  But as Pop-Pop taught me, I begin each day anew loving family and friends and giving my best back to God as I possibly can. 

My prayer for you today is that you see yourself as a servant leader.  Do not be discouraged by the world that you must be a certain way to be a leader.  Simply follow Pop-Pop’s example and get up in the morning resolved to give your best that day to love God and others the best you can.  Fanfare is not necessary.  Give as you have received.  That’s all Pop-Pop did.

Now, I keep one of his favorite trolleys in my bedroom.  Each day I see it and remember how he loved and I strive to loved as he did, imperfect but fully.  At the end of the day that is all any of us can do.  Love one another imperfectly but fully knowing that the God of Grace loves each of us fully and perfectly.

This Week’s Challenge — Quietly serve one person this week and be an example of God’s love in a quiet leadership way.

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