Hey, Here is the Servant’s Heart

28 07 2019

Dennie and I have a lot in common, but then a lot of differenRock _nces. We both worked at the same place, in the same department and enjoyed each other’s company.  We both were college educated but relied more on common sense than education. We enjoyed a good joke and got frustrated at the same with aggravations. We both had long and good marriages and our favorite people to be with was our wives. But then there were also differences.

Dennie grew up loving the outdoors; he would spend every moment he could there. I loved it also but not to his extent. He once, along with his brother and dad canoed from Minnesota to Canada to fish and live off the land for two weeks. He had patience for intricate projects. He could spend hours building remote controlled planes that he was very good at flying. Me, a project I could spend a few hours on and if the model plane didn’t come together it probably would become kindling for the wood burner out back. We both worked in a lab specifically in metallurgical science. When I took up this career it was very frustrating trying to understand everything. But Dennie was a whiz at the technique and understanding. Matter of fact he held a degree in metallurgical engineering. He could have risen to a higher level in our occupation, but he enjoyed being on the grassroots of the job, mostly because at the end of the day he could go home and forget about it till the next.  His ability and understanding helped me greatly in understanding the process. Without his mentoring, I doubt I would have lasted a year.

So Dennie was a friend and a teacher to me and we enjoyed working together. The one area we had differences was our belief system in God and what it was to live the Christian life. His beliefs were structured and revolved around carrying out certain sacraments to someday achieve heaven.  Where my belief is wrapped around grace and mercy that came through Jesus. Even though he couldn’t buy a theology that was so simple, he was always willing to listen. And if I presented my position, he needed to see it in the Bible. Gracious and courteous was my pal Dennie, but he just couldn’t wrap his head around salvation that was a gift and not of works. That all changed one day.

Frustrated where he and his Lady attended, he shopped around for another church and wound up at one that shared what I had talked to him about. In a class for new people he peppered the pastor with many questions that were each answered from the Word. He studied fervently everything he could get his hands on. In the end he concluded joyfully, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Now I could say Dennie was my friend, mentor, and Brother in Christ.

Now I suppose I could say we had something else in common. But that wouldn’t be totally correct. Yes, we shared a love of Jesus and both believed in salvation through grace, but Dennie took on the role in a much deeper conviction and love than I did. Dennie became the epitome of one with a servant’s heart. Jesus came into the world as a servant and not a conquering king in order to teach us to live the same way. Take a look at Philippians 2:1-11. He practiced the characteristics of Philippians 2:3-5 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” In the home, with family and friends, and especially in the church can one practice and achieve the servant’s heart.  But in the workplace where the pressure is always on; well, it can be a bit harder. I admit, there were times I had shortcomings and could lose my composure. But if Dennie had any frustrations he never showed them. Even with bosses and fellow employees who could be rude he never retaliated in any way. I doubt you would find anyone who worked with this man that could say a bad word about him. Because there wasn’t any! There were times when I blew up, he settled me down. Not by what he had to say, but by being a peaceful spirit with a soft smile. I feel I learned volumes in that Christ-like attitude over reading about it.  On more than one occasion I thought to myself, “I have seen grace and mercy in the form of a servant; a lab technician.

I once heard a quote that said; “The true character of ministry is a servant’s heart.” It makes me wonder how many seeds were planted for Christ in his actions and ways. I dare say probably many more than some with a Bible and a sermon. Not critical, just a thought.

Dennie and I retired within six months of each other; he wasn’t ready, but health issues mandated he had to. We saw each other sporadically but would talk on the phone. The last time was a week ago Friday. Same old Dennie, upbeat and planning out the next day. Sunday morning to the surprise and grief of all who loved him, Dennie suddenly went home to Jesus. First time I cried in a long time. But as one put it, those tears are for me losing my friend, not for Dennie. He was now happier than words could describe.

Okay, I’ve gotten a little lengthy in my writing tonight, and it wasn’t really what I had planned on. But I wanted you all to meet my friend. He was a very special man and I thank God for putting him in my life.

One last thought. I have no theological basis for this, but I see Dennie in the arms of Jesus and hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And in my imagination, I can also see Jesus drape an arm over Dennie’s shoulder, calling everybody over and with a big smile saying, “Hey, here is what I’ve been talking about, having the Servant’s Heart!”

I love you Dennie

See ya next time.




One response

29 07 2019
Scott Howington

John,  So sorry for your loss.  A good friend and the best of memories take a lifetime to come by and you were brothers in more than one way from your telling of it.  Thanks for sharing and giving a glimpse of Dennie’s servant heart.  ~charlene

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