Recently on Facebook quite a few friends have been posting a series of musical Albums that have either influenced their taste in music or have been significant to them. I declined to participate, although someday I may post a listing of my favourite ten Bruce Cockburn albums. There are after all 36 to chose from!
Since I was first tagged three weeks ago, I have been thinking what was meaningful to me, and I have decided to participate in a different way. In this time of a world wide pandemic, life seems way to fragile. So instead of posting Albums that have influenced me, I am going to be creating posts about people who have influenced, inspired, or have been otherwise significant in my life. Rather than do one a day, I will be doing one a week. A couple may make there way on to Internet Monk, but generally I will be sticking to Facebook. I did however want to post the first one here, to maybe get us talking about who is significant in our lives, and to maybe encourage some of you to think of doing something similar yourselves.
So without much further ado, let me introduce you to Mitch Sylvia.
Mitch has not yet released an Album. His vocal talents, or lack thereof, means that we should not expect one imminently. He has not been chased by paparazzi, starred in a movie, written a book, or even created a blog. He is not a socially media influencer, rather, he has yet to post on Twitter or Instagram.
So why does Mitch top my list of people who have inspired or influenced me?
Well, in short, Mitch has been my Pastor, and friend, for the past 34 years.
Back in 1986, I was attending University and was going through a particularly dry time spiritually. I ended up in a Bible study small group that Mitch was leading. He was a young student himself. After I described my struggle to Mitch, he offered to meet with me weekly, for as long as I needed to help me through my difficult time. Ever since then, whenever I have had issues, people, or circumstances that I was struggling with, Mitch would always be there to lend an ear. No judgement, sometimes sage advice, but always present. We have not lived in the same city since 1993, but he has always been available by phone, whenever I needed someone to call.
Mitch did become a Pastor. I could not think of anyone more suited for the role. Because he lived some distance away, I have only attended the churches that he pastored on rare occasions. But when I did, you could see how meaningful Mitch was to those in the church. In his first church I saw him investing himself in the lives of the youth, right from the age of junior high, and seeing them grow up into adults and joyfully participate in their weddings. In his next church I saw how he reached out to seniors, and welcomed them to his church where they had been pushed aside in the churches they had come from. It didn’t matter if someone was nine or ninety, Mitch was there to care for them in a way that few do.
Mitch is not a theologian. That is not to say that theology isn’t important to him, but theology has always taken a back seat to ministering to people, and that desire to minister to people has taken him across a wide swath of denominations over his life, always seeking to serve others, and not getting hung up on denominational distinctives, whether that was in an independent charismatic, Presbyterian, or Baptist churches.
I mentioned paparazzi a few paragraphs back. I had the privilege of being a reference for Mitch when he was last looking for a new church to Pastor. I can’t remember all my comments, but I remember saying this. “Mitch is a man of God… You are never going to have to worry about Mitch being involved in some sort of scandal, it is not in his character… If I ever had the opportunity to live in the same city as Mitch, I would want him to be my Pastor.”
His wife once said to me, “If anything ever happened to Mitch, I don’t think I could ever get married again, because I don’t think that I could ever find another Mitch.”
I couldn’t agree more.
So let me ask you. Who inspires you? While I have used the example of being inspired by a Pastor, many of the other people on my list are not Pastors. In my list I am only choosing to list people who I have made a personal connection with, but I won’t limit you in the same way. Would you be interested to make a list like this yourself?
“Every person you meet is a gift… If you notice the message.” – J Andy Szakony
As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome. I also want to add that these are difficult times. If you are going through a struggle or particular difficulty, any comment expressing that will not be considered off topic and will not be moderated. I know Mitch would not want it any other way.
13 thoughts on “Who Inspires You?”
To be honest, even Jesus seems this way to me.
I didn’t start reading this blog until after his demise. He is really like one of the other figures of history to me, never having met him or had direct experience of him. His words can be stirring and inspiring, but he is far away. I just don’t feel that direct connection.
That’s very true and a healthy point of view for the presenter. I always hope you guys aren’t losing sleep over a slow day at the office and it sounds like you take it in stride! Sometimes there’s just not a proper payoff for the time and energy expended. That’s living in the world. Who said it’s fair?
I just have had my most liked post ever on facebook. It was a picture of one of my fossils (a horn coral that looked like a witches hat) 456 likes over the last couple of days. It kind of struck me that comments are likes are kind of worthless in terms of judging the underlying value of what is being presented.
What about someone like Michael Spencer?
Besides, it’s a slow comment day so what the heck!
That’s Bruce’s channel. His wife put all of his cassettes on to CD and then onto YouTube. I suppose my posting this is evidence of his inspiration to me as I know hardly anyone, including me, very often clicks on these suggestions. Still, I’m so sold on his charism that I am putting it up anyway.
I don’t have one particular person anymore. I don’t know why that is. People who have passed continue to inspire me. The little known, late great, Dr. Bruce Morgan was one of my greatest living inspirations when I was finding my way into the wilderness in the eighties. Soul and mind expanding stuff at the time. It still holds up today. He’s on YouTube. Carl Jung would be another. Sorry I don’t have any living ones beside of course the great but more mundane or ordinary, daily inspiration of the family and friends that are close to me.
I wish I could name one person from my life who has inspired me the way Mitch has you, but, alas, I can’t. There are historic figures, but the inspiration I found in them was second, third, or many-more hands removed, not the result of direct and personal experience. There have been moments or occasions of inspiration I’ve had directly from numerous people, but not people from whom I experienced regular inspiration. More’s the pity, but that’s just the way it is.
Mike Bell, Amen Pastor Mitch is an excellent example and people are only average in the statistical reporting. There is certainly not anything average about making your sphere of influence better. In the age of celebrity and super stars we lose our perspective. Pastor Mitch puts a face on the many who enrich our lives. I think this is very relevant at this time as now people see the grocery store workers and those keeping the wheels going as very needed and unappreciated people, again every day people doing things to make life better.
I agree Dan,
I think that Mitch is one of those everyday heroes as well. Just a regular Pastor of a small to medium size church, going about his calling as Pastor in very difficult circumstances.
Mike Bell, nice article and a thought provoking subject. As I age (gracefully I hope) I have changed my perspective. Not to cope out of naming an individual in looking back and at present the “average”, the everyday person and all who make up this great nation inspire me. I know this a a generic answer but our nation is blessed with “average” people who as individuals and collectively make the world go and better. The parent who gets up every day, goes off to work and raises their family. The women who are the bridge , the sandwich generation who care for their own family and many times older relatives and do so unselfishly, The people who volunteer for thousands of activities that make the world better. I will leave it them example wise but the necessary many are the heart and soul of our society. Go out and people are following the “rules” now voluntarily and with good attitude. Many people I meet are far better than me in having a good attitude, a giving nature and a loving heart, they inspire me. On Iwo Jima the quote from a General was “Uncommon Valor was a common virtue”. Replace valor with commitment , love, duty, effort and love and I think that would fit the majority of “average” Americans. I hope we continue as a nation to have more people who contribute than take. What makes people sacrifice, do good and live a certain way for the good of others, Love. So average is great for a nation and average needs to be recognized not as a slight but a necessary part of making a nation great. I aspire to be average. I guess I just call it everyday heroes and that would be true.