Only a handful of people have come into my life and impacted me up close. Yes, I can point to pastors like John Piper and C.J. Mahaney who have had a profound influence on my life from afar. But only a few have invested their lives into my life becoming like a father to me in the gospel (1 Cor. 4:15). One of those men is Jim Luebe.
I met Jim as a college student at the University of Northern Iowa. As a relatively new believer in Christ, he took an interest in me and saw in me the potential for leadership. I remember sitting down with him one day and him turning to Joshua 1:9 which says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." He looked at me and said that God had called me to lead just like Joshua. So I needed to be strong and courageous knowing that He would be with me! Hearing those words propelled me to take action and be the man God made me to be.
Jim also started a small group bible study with me and 3 other guys. I think he affectionately called us "The Four Horsemen." We met in the mornings on campus and studied through different books of the Bible. We prayed together and were accountable to each other. We also spent time with him in his home. Jim intentionally let us see into his life, his marriage, his struggles, and even his sin. But his heart was not mainly that we know him; he wanted us to know Christ! Specifically, he wanted me to know the basics of living for Christ - The Word, Prayer, Fellowship, and Witnessing. But he didn't just teach these things, he lived them out. He never asked me to do anything he hadn't done first -- and that principle of leadership has stuck with me. Jim is also a man of vision. And he gave me opportunities to lead with vision. Most older guys don't give younger guys the freedom to fail. Jim did. And in doing so, I learned to dream big and believe God could do great things -- more than I could ask or think (Eph. 3:20).
And I'd be remiss to not mention how Jim showed me the importance of family. He loves his wife and his boys. I didn't think about that very much as a college student, but now I do, having been married for 12 years with 3 kids of my own. Little did he know that he was giving me a model of how to put my wife and kids first in the midst of ministry.
Some of you know that Jim is now the Collegiate Director for the U.S. Navigators. He and his sweet wife (Beth) continue to invest their lives into college students with a desire that they might become lifelong laborers in Christ's kingdom. Sometimes I can still hear Jim's distinct voice in the back of my mind telling me about a friend of his that he described as "a faithful laborer over time."
Yes, only a handful of people come into our lives and impact us up close. Jim Luebe is one of those people for me. And my prayer is that I would be that for others in my life and ministry.
*Read this article he wrote to collegiate grads about true success in college ministry