FROM PASTOR MEYER’S DESK:
Shortly before I sat down to write this article, I was eating my lunch in my office and checking out some sports scores on the Internet. It was then that I saw it. The headline proclaimed: “Not An April Fool’s Joke: The UConn Women’s Historic 111-Game Win Streak is Over.” Though it wasn’t easy, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who last March lost to UConn in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA tournament by 60 points, defeated the Huskies in overtime at the Final Four in Dallas. The victory was sealed and the streak ended when Morgan Williams, who is only 5 feet 3 inches tall, swished an 18-foot rainbow of a shot just as the buzzer sounded in overtime. I watched it on youtube.com just a little bit ago and it was something to behold. And it caused a flurry of emotions to ripple their way through the packed arena, ranging from absolute joy and jubilation from the Mississippi State fans to utter disappointment and disbelief from the UConn side. And as I watched it, there was one saying that came to my mind…the saying that reminds us that “all good things must come to an end.”
Included in that saying is not just things like winning streaks or a good meal or a relaxing vacation or a peaceful night’s sleep, but also life itself. I was reminded of this a couple weeks ago when I saw a Facebook post that revealed a former boss of mine had died. You see, when I was a junior in high school I got to be part of a brand new program that our school was testing out called Cooperative Education. Basically it allowed students my age to leave our school campus the last couple of hours each day and go work at a job somewhere in our community. Well, I applied to be one of those students and when I interviewed for it, I remember my teacher, Mr. Rull, asking me why I wanted to be a part of this program. I told him because I wanted to be a pastor someday and I felt that any job which would allow me to interact with the public would help to improve my much-needed people skills that are so vital for the ministry. He apparently liked my answer and made the decision to assign me to Bahn’s Super Value, which was one of the two main grocery stores in town. And when I stopped by the store to meet the two brothers who owned it, Joe and Gene Bahn, I was informed that my starting salary would be a whopping $1.91 per hour. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but money went a lot farther back then than it does today. And the job brought me a boatload of opportunities to interact with the public as I sacked groceries and carried them out for people, stocked shelves and helped patrons find things, and even checked out folks at the cash register. But the thing I appreciated most about that job (which, by the way, I worked at until I went off to college), was the day to day interaction I had with my boss, Gene. His brother Joe and his family moved to Arizona during my first year of working for them, so I didn’t get to know him as well as I knew Gene. And Gene was quite a guy! He impacted my life in a number of ways. Let me explain.
First of all, he gave me confidence in myself by simply trusting me. He trusted me to close up the store some nights. He trusted me enough to let me stay there after hours and wax the floors with this big machine. He trusted me to help with the annual inventory they did. When he was going to be gone on a family vacation, he even trusted me several times to order all the needed groceries for the week from the warehouse, using a pretty fancy device that recorded the item number of each canned good, cereal box, soda can, etc. Put simply, he assigned me jobs to do that not only helped to bolster my self-confidence, but that also taught me the importance of being a responsible human being.
Gene also taught me the importance and value of a smile. As I observed him throughout the day, no matter how stressed he was or how much work was on his plate, he never showed it. He always had a smile for his customers and time to chat with them and ask about their families, their jobs, and their lives. His familiar laughter echoed throughout the store and he abided by one of the most important rules of running a business and that is that the customer is always right.
Gene also helped me understand the importance of family and the very significant role that the father plays in the home. He and his wife had 8 children and although Gene would put in a hard day at the store, he always made it home for supper and spent the evening with them. This especially came out at his funeral where one of his daughters and one of his sons got up and gave eulogies about their dad. They pretty well had everyone in tears as they paid tribute to the man who nurtured them, played with them, romped with them, did homework with them, and continued to do it with their children when they came along years later.
Lastly, Gene was a man of faith. He was Catholic all his life and supported his church and especially his priest. In fact, his priest, who I believe has served at this church for the past 32 years, gave quite a sermon. He teared up as he spoke of how he knew throughout all the ups and downs of ministry that he always had one loyal supporter in his corner, and that was Gene Bahn.
All of which leads me to the point of this article and it has to do with one word…the word LEGACY. What kind of legacy are you leaving as you live your life from day to day? What do you think your children will say or remember most about you after you have passed from this life? Will they remember you as a mom or dad who was always there for them or who was too busy most of the time working or recreating or texting or Facebooking?
And even more importantly than that, what kind of spiritual legacy are you leaving your children? Do they see you as a Christian man or woman who doesn’t just talk the talk on Sunday morning, but who walks the walk the rest of the week? Have you taught them the importance of regular worship, of spending time in prayer each day, of reading and studying God’s Word and being a man or woman of your word? Have you demonstrated to them that the greatest fulfillment in life comes from serving others just as Christ served us?
Just a few things to think about as you consider the kind of legacy that you want to leave behind. And thanks, Gene, for giving me a great example to follow long before I ever even thought about my legacy.
A very appreciative former grocery store stock boy,