Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Ordinary" Hero of the Faith Graduates to Glory

What does remembering a friend like Connie Jacobsen have to do with “Glory In The Ordinary?” Connie, who died earlier this month after a six-month fight with pancreatic cancer, exemplifies to me a man who lived an extraordinary life disguised in ordinariness.

We live in a world that worships celebrity and sadly the Christian sub-culture is not much different. The big name mega-church pastor, multi-staff non-profit leader, multi-million dollar corporation founder, best-selling author, internationally known speaker/guru, etc. get all the ink it seems. Someone has said that the church today is like a swimming pool, “all of the noise is coming out of the shallow end.”

So when a man like Connie Jacobsen passes and I am able to hear story after story about how this ordinary man impacted so many lives to love God and to love others, I quietly pray, “What, Lord, would you have me to learn from this man’s life?”

Connie was a faithful and loving husband, father and grandfather. He worked with kids as a Young Life leader since high school and he founded a Seattle men’s ministry called “Teleios” in 1980.

What drew me to him as an older man and mentor was the humble way that he walked with Jesus. When I met with him he made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. He gave me his full presence. He often quoted a mentor of his about his philosophy of meeting with men: “Be with men at their convenience with no agenda.”

Connie listened and he also shared with me his own struggles with sin. He never pretended to be perfect or have arrived. The Bible studies that he, Art Kopicky and Shawn Petree started around the Puget Sound area under the Teleios banner bore the mark of his spiritual DNA. I have been involved in starting and facilitating a couple of men’s groups under his guidance and they are nothing like I have been involved with before.

Both groups that I lead genuinely care about each other and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t continue, like other groups Connie started, until we are old men together. We simply read, discuss a chapter in the Bible together, share with each other where we need prayer and then actually pray for one another. It is that simple. And that powerful!

Some may be offended in my referring to Connie, such a great leader of the faith in Seattle, as “ordinary.” One thing I know is that he would not have been offended by that designation. I believe that what he wanted most to be seen through his life was not his own intellect, spirituality, or gifting, but Jesus. He wanted Christ to be accessible to all he was in contact with. He wanted “the cookies to be kept on the bottom shelf.”

He would quote often when referring to himself, “He (Jesus) must increase and I must decrease.” (John 3:30) And when he knew the cancer would likely be taking him home he would quote, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

I was not able to attend his memorial service due to being out of town, but I heard that around 2,500 people attended at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle last Friday. Those who were there and those like me who could not attend, honor this quiet “ordinary man” who lived a life of extraordinariness for Christ. May God multiply the impact of your faithful life, dear friend, for His glory, many times in the days ahead.

Grateful For 21st Century Heroes of the Faith Like Connie,

Jamie

Note: Do you have any stories of God’s Glory showing up in the ordinary? I would love to hear them and share them with a larger audience if you would like! Just email me at (JNBohnett@aol.com)

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1 comment:

Don said...

Very gracious tribute!