In this week of celebrating Mark & Sheila’s 25 years at Granger, I wanted to take a minute to talk about what I’ve learned from Mark in the 17 years we have worked together.
- Family is first. Mark has modeled that more than anyone I’ve ever known. He has always shown me that his relationship with his wife and kids is more important than work and ministry . When I first began working with Mark, we had a 17-month old and a 1-month old, and Mark & Sheila’s kids were 14, 12 and 10. So I watched him interact with his kids through their middle school and high school years and into their adult years. As you would expect, his parenting was not typical. He would respond to behavior differently than I’d ever seen before. And every day I learned more from him about how to raise kids who love Jesus.
- Mark has always believed in me. He hired me as a 27-year old without a college degree and never once brought up education as an issue. He called me a pastor when I said I wasn’t old enough or smart enough. He asked me to lead the church through the first building project when I’d never even built a dog house. He asked me to be his executive pastor when I’d be leading people much older and more tenured than me.
- Mark listens. Every week he asks me for input on his weekend message. Can you imagine? That’s like the quarterback of a football team asking for advice from the water boy. At least that’s how I felt in the early days. And he genuinely listens. To me. To his wife. To his team. To anyone he knows believes in him and has his back.
- Mark empowers the people around him. So many key churches are known by their senior leader. You hear the name of the church, and you immediately can name the senior pastor. But you likely don’t know one other name on staff. At Granger, Mark has strategically built-in to the leaders around him for years, and given them a platform to succeed. He’s not intimidated nor insecure when one of his staff members publishes a book, or gets a great speaking gig, or is recognized on the national scene in same way. He loves it. He celebrates it!
- He models genuine care for people. I have never felt like my tasks are more important than my walk with Christ or my relationship with my family. Mark & Sheila have both shown unbelievable care for me, my family, my hurts and my joys.
- I have become a better encourager because of being around Mark. If he’s a 100 on the cheerleader scale, I’m just a 15. But I used to be a big fat ZERO. So I have a long way to go, but I’ve learned so much.
- Mark gave me eyes for people outside the church. He busted me out of the church bubble in my thinking, and helped me see that traditional church isn’t going to do the trick to reach those far from God.
I could go on, but there will be plenty of time for that in the years ahead. We’ve been together 17-years, and I am planning on many more.