I don’t know where I would be without a man named Lenis Black. With the trajectory I was on, I’d probably wind up being the guy in the picture above. Who is Lenis Black you ask? Lenis was my first Sunday school teacher when I began attending church in 1980. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him today.
Earlier this afternoon, I was talking to a very successful church leader who mentioned to me the lifelong impact that her first Sunday school teacher had on her as a young child. Her comments caused me to go back 30 years and remember the incredible impact Lenis had on my life:
- Stability – After my parents divorced, mom began taking her three children to church hoping the environment of Acworth United Methodist Church would provide her children some level of stability. Thanks to Lenis and others, mom was right.
- Made Church Interesting – Lenis was a great teacher, humorous, and very interesting. He talked about things teenage boys appreciated and made the Bible come alive.
- Engaged My Life – Lenis had a son who was one of my best friends. This was a good excuse for him to periodically show up at school to simply see how I was doing.
- Called Me – The thing I remember most about Lenis was when he called me during the Georgetown vs. Villanova showdown in January 1984. There was no agenda as he was just investing in my life. Funny thing, I remember every aspect of that phone call to this very day.
- Modeled the Life of a Christian Man – The reality is that when a divorce happens, a void is created in the child’s life. It is simply unavoidable. The void of a Godly man was filled by Lenis. He gave me a picture of what a man sold out to Christ looked like.
- Exposed Me to Church Leadership – Shortly after becoming a Christian, Lenis walked me into Senior Pastor Jim Lowery’s office to pray before a service. Due to my naivety, I had no idea what was going on or what to pray. However, that single decision to have me in that setting propelled me on a path that I’m still on to this day.
- Generosity and Sacrifice – Lenis taught our class for my four years of high school. Each year, he wrestled with whether he should return or not. He always did, and my life was never the same.
Many of you reading this post work with students. You may periodically wonder if it’s worth it. Using my life as a case study, I’ll tell you this: you may never know until you get to Heaven what God will do in the life of that teen you see each week. Who knows, he/she may grow to be someone who helps churches and writes about leadership.
Lenis, I will spend every day for eternity in Heaven thanking you for caring about me. I’ll never forget your investment in my life.