I’ve had the pleasure of meeting great men and women in my life. Some of them have become mentors to me that have shaped me and helped me become a better version of myself.
When I served on staff at a church, I had the privilege of working with Mark Powell. Mark has changed my life more than he would ever know. He’s a unique person because at times he was like a father and other times he was like a great friend that was fun to pick on… because he always took it well (and I was brutal).
There are countless things I’ve learned from Mark through the 15 years I’ve known him. I wanted to list 5 here that I think about constantly as I try to become better in my leadership, relationships, and as a decent human being.
1. Inconvenience yourself for other people
There were more than a few occasions when I was pressed for time, needed help on a project, or just needed a friend. Mark never said “no”. In fact, there were times where I knew he went out of his way to be there when I needed him. I also know he did that for others.
One time, a generous man donated 4 brand new vehicles to our church for our 4 full-time pastors to use. When we hired a 5th pastor moving back to the states from Europe, and they only had one vehicle, Mark quickly gave up his vehicle so that staff member didn’t have to go take out a car loan or buy a new car. That left he and his wife with one vehicle to share. Mark never complains, never whines, and never feels entitled to anything.
He serves people, even at the expense of his own comfort or plans.
2. Family matters
I never met a man more passionate about his family. His wife and kids love being around him and he loves being with his family. He makes 10 hour drives to and from Texas, to spend one night helping his kids move or just to get a moment with his grandchildren. He constantly talks about how proud he is of his kids, and the way he speaks of his wife, it’s obvious he knows he married up.
When it comes to his grandkids, I’ve never seen a more proud “PopPop”.
3. It’s good to be scrappy
Mark’s not a tall man, but I’d never pick a fight with him. There’s nothing arrogant about Mark, but he does carry a confidence that makes me a little nervous when he gets mad at me. Mark is never afraid to stand up for what is right. He doesn’t back down from a fight and he always fights for truth and justice. If there’s ever a time when someone is trying to hurt me, either physically, mentally, or emotionally, I’d want Mark on my side. Mark shows what it looks like when men display courage and godly confidence in a world that doesn’t see that very often.
I was a young leader. I often said and did things that weren’t always right. Sometimes Mark was the recipient of the consequences. Mark always showed me grace. When I’d make a poor leadership decision, Mark often held his tongue, knowing I’d already learned my lesson. Instead, he’d come give me a hug (sometimes a kiss on the forehead), and reminded me of our friendship. Honestly, Mark probably should have been serving in the role I was in. Because of his grace, he never made me feel that way.
5. Expect big things
Mark has enjoyed a pretty fascinating life. He has incredible stories to tell. Like the time he and his sons were robbed at gunpoint in Florida. Or the awesome travels he’s been on as a salesman for Integrity Media. My favorite is when he was diagnosed with cancer and the doctor came in and gave him 6 months at best. That was 15 years ago.
Today, Mark is fighting for his life again. Being diagnosed with a different cancer than before, the odds are once again against him. Because of what I know about Mark, he’s not afraid of dying. His concern is for his family and friends. How this will hurt them.
Mark is the least selfish person I know. In the 15 years I’ve known him, I’ve always watched him become more concerned about how decisions, circumstances, and choices will effect other people, not himself. He never puts himself first.
Because of the life Mark has lived and the love and passion he has for his relationship with Jesus, he will be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. Whether Mark enters into the presence of Jesus in the next year or 30 years from now, I know Jesus will say, “Well done.” He has shown me, and countless others, what Jesus meant when he said, “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”
Mark has never tried to be first here on earth. I know Jesus will give him the honor of first in heaven.
I’m praying for another miracle from heaven. I’d love it if you joined me.