We are all profoundly influenced by people. Often the recognition of their influence comes long after they are gone. The "Small Men" I am writing about refers to their physical stature not their character or influence upon my pilgrimage. None were over 5'-7" tall. They are virtual giants in their continuing influence on me as a man and as a Leader of Men.
#1 - My Paternal Grandfather - William Fillinger. In 1929 when the market crashed he purchased a farm. He had been an engineer and traveled the country establishing manufacturing plants for the U.S. Gypsum Co. His eye sight was compromised. He wore 'coke bottle' glasses. In this new occupation I was privileged to learn much from him. He was intelligent and creative. In those days the 'sellers' walked away with only the clothes on their backs. Everything else, house, barns, livestock, equipment all went to the buyer.
The desk in my study was in the house. It, like so many of life's richest treasures, was covered in black gum varnish. When stripped and refinished it sparkles as a marvelous piece of furniture that graces my Study. This is a tribute to my memory of my grandfather.
My Grandfather had turn signals on his cars long before Detroit added this feature. The only exception - his only worked when you turned the wheel. There were two (2) bushel baskets under a work bench in the garage. As a boy of 9-10 I was absolutely convinced that anything in the universe that you might need was in one of those baskets. He could fix or repair almost anything. His quiet intelligent creativity continues to influence me to this day.
#2 - My Maternal Grandfather - Lester Short. Hard work - diligence and persistence. I remember working side by side with him. When we built something it was done properly, no compromises. I suppose he as well as I would be characterized as 'driven men'. When we finished lunch he would say as the last fork full of food was consumed - 'OK, let's go!' At the age of 4 when my mother sat down for a coffee break while cleaning house I said to her - - 'Mother, isn't this wasting time?' (as recorded in my baby-book) WOW! Did he impact my life or what?
I remember sitting at the dinner table with him and the discussion centered on righteousness as expressed in the care of animals. He cited Proverbs 12 - Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast . . . (Prov. 12:10). He took me duck hunting. He guided my trembling hands while hunkered down in a duck blind to down a green-winged teal on a cloudy October morning. That memory is as fresh as every morning sun rise.
#3 - Dr. George Lawlor - Koine' Greek
I did not begin under graduate studies until age 27. My interest in High School was baseball not academics. So, when I began language study I was petrified to say the least. We began with 32 in the class - finished with 12. Dr. Lawlor insisted on precision in knowledge, especially in the language of the NT. I can hear him to this day beginning each class with the injunction - - 'know those endings!' I still have hanging in my study the 'vocabulary ring' I carried 24/7 in my endeavor to 'know those endings'!
He was impeccably dressed. He could serve as a mannequin for Hart, Schaeffner & Marx. His passion for Truth as revealed in the Greek text of the NT matched his dashing but humble appearance. I had the joy of knowing him up close and personal through a series of service opportunities. He was a scholar, a theologian and a dedicated instructor of men who would become pastors. Machen's Grammar mastered.
#4 - Dr. James Boyer - Gramcord
Humility personified. He organized and systematized the Greek NT. This became Gramcord, one of the first digital versions of the Greek NT. He was quiet and dedicated. He retired early to care for his wife in her latter days. This was simply the only thing he could do because that is who he was.
He helped me and countless others acquire proficiency in the study of the Greek NT.
We must each be who God made us. Part of His 'making us' is the people He uses to shape and mold us. I am forever thankful for these four (4) men and their contribution to my life and to my capacity to serve the kingdom of God. Thank you William, Lester, George and James. I pray that I have invested well those skills and competencies you graciously built into my life.