A Fisher of Men

Robert Mitchell — November 21, 1934 ~ July 8, 2008

Today is the 11th anniversary of my father’s passing. Pop was a pretty incredible person.  No, he was not a great businessman, scientist, inventor, writer, statesman or orator.  He wasn’t remarkably successful by any conventional measurement.

What made him incredible was that he spent the last decade or so of his life walking with Christ despite serious trials.  The more money the world took from him, the less materialistic he became.  As his health got worse, he only became more patient and at peace.  The more loved ones who were taken away, the more he loved those who remained.  The more the world conspired to try and make him bitter, the more he smiled.

And the closer death came the less he feared.

Pop’s pocket Bible — a special edition with instructions for bringing people to faith (a reference to Matthew 4:19 “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

As a young man Pop considered entering the clergy but decided against it.  His reason was the same he gave for not taking promotions at work and for not pursuing a career in law enforcement after his service in the Military Police.  He didn’t want to be the kind of person who told other people what to do or how to behave.  And he didn’t want to give anybody the impression that he thought he was better than anybody else.

The irony is that his humility made him the ideal clerical candidate, yet I’m the one I’m in seminary.  And my humility is far from legendary.  When I was a young man, my mom always said that my lack of humility would be my downfall if I didn’t overcome it. 

And so, on this anniversary of Pop’s passing, I sit and appreciate Mom’s warning and Pop’s example.  I admire my father’s humility and strength and try to emulate them as best I can.

And I pray that someday I will be a good fisher of men.

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