A person who has a tremendous amount of influence in my life is a man named George Stoms. In an effort to protect the privacy of this dear friend I won’t go into details about his life…It is safe to say that this guy has overcome some overwhelming odds to be where he is today. He has led churches and businesses, and though the demands of life have kept us from staying connected as much as I would like, I have always known him to be a husband, father and friend of great character and Godly integrity. I’ve learned so much from him…but at the top of the list are 5 items I don’t ever want to forget.
1. The Contra Perspective
George is pretty smart guy. Actually he is a scary smart genius. From his fascination with things like game theory and relativity to his knowledge of mathematics, music, philosophy, psychology, literature and, of course, the Bible, George brings a unique point of view to everything and everyone he encounters. He has a unique ability to combine all that he knows into a perspective that looks at problems from multiple perspectives and he is not afraid to argue a point even though it may be unpopular or even wrong. He does this for the sake of seeking and discovering the truth. I remember having discussions with him about a particular decision I was facing. Even if he agreed with me, he would take the opposite view just to make sure I was clear about what I believed in. Though I probably only have 1 tenth of his intelligence and I probably will never master this skill as well as he can, his ability of take the “contra perspective” for the sake of testing the truth is a practice I continue to pursue to this day.
2. Never elevate a person to a level of responsibility that is beyond their level of character
The wisdom of never elevating a person to a level of responsibility that is beyond their level of character, is an axiom that I have used countless times. It is self explanatory with one additional note. I believe that George would add that a person can not achieve true integrity and character without Christ. True… there are many who claim they have Christ and lack character. But I believe he might add that you can’t have true character without Christ.
3. Just a Guy
George has an aversion to celebrity. Even in times of great success and prosperity, he practices the art of being “just a guy.” It is a phrase and a concept that I picked up from George and it is not my favorite lesson from him, but I think it has been one that I continue to need to hear most. I now call it the discipline of being “just a guy.” I think practicing this discipline is important for everyone, but I think it is particularly important for anyone who has any amount of authority to learn well the lesson that people don’t drift toward humility. I for one have to order my life in such a way as to constantly be reminded that I am just a person, a sinner like everyone else who needs Christ.
4. The White Blood Cell
This is one of my favorite lessons from the life of George Stoms. The lesson of the White Blood Cell. George is a truth teller. But he sets a standard in truth telling that I have seldom witnessed in any other person I have ever met. So…what does that have to do with white blood cells? A white blood cell has the unique ability to seek out and attack infection and disease in the body. George has this unique ability. Here’s the challenge of the white blood cell. There are circumstances in the body when white blood cells get confused and attack good tissue mistaking it for disease. I believe that most people who claim to be truth tellers or “white blood cells” have a difficult time distinguishing between good and bad “tissue” in the body. In George’s case, I have watched him grow such tact in this gift that he rarely if ever attacks anything but infection. Of course, I am talking about the ability to discern truth from deception. George is so gifted at this that I have come to trust even some of his toughest inquiries toward bringing that truth to light as a precious gift. Watching George grow in this area has set a standard for me to look for this gift in others, especially as God entrusts leadership responsibilities to me.
5. The Priesthood of all believers.
I don’t know if I know of anyone who practices the priesthood of all believers, (1 Peter 2:9), like George. Here is someone who could easily work in full-time ministry. Instead he lives full-time ministry. Here is a man who shepherds and prays for his neighborhood like a pastor shepherds an entire church congregation. If you are one of George’s neighbors, and you happen to be reading this right now, you need to know that this guy really does care about the people around him. George has taught me that just because a person has studied and knows the Bible like a professional pastor, they don’t have to be a professional pastor. They just have to be willing to be used by God wherever and whenever he calls.