Following In The Footsteps of Faithful Men, Part 5

After a long delay, this is the fifth part in a series profiling men who have had great influence in my life.

Tom Shumate
I first met Tom early in my ministry, when he was the executive director of Cottage Cove, an inner-city ministry in Nashville, TN. It’s an incredible ministry that reaches at risk kids with the love of Jesus. Two missions trips to Cottage Cove exposed me to these precious kids and the things they were learning – the arts, life skills and the Bible. It was amazing to see not only their passion poured out through things like digital photography or painting, but also their incredible Bible comprehension and memorization abilities even among the youngest. Cottage Cove was birthed out of Tom’s (and his wife, Kim’s) heart to love those that society so often neglects or gives up on.

Tom was a close friend to my senior pastor and in 2002 joined our church staff as the Pastor of Adult Discipleship. At first, I thought it was cool that the “new pastor” had been a professional recording artist and had personally known artists that I only knew through the radio or CD’s. The coming years would produce in me a genuine love and appreciation for this man.

Through Tom, I grew in my understanding of the gospel. Three key words characterized his ministry: “Freedom, Love & Forgiveness” and he continually hit on these themes found in the gospel. I grew in my understanding and appreciation for what it means to be in Christ and to have my identity in him. He had a tender heart for God, a genuine love for his family, an artsy eye and ability and a sharp sense of humor. My kind of guy.

There are those that think that pastors live in an ivory tower, shielded from the pains and difficulties of “the real world”. That is not true. There is going to be conflict anywhere there are people and trials even when alone. I got to experience the blood and pain of being in the trenches with Tom through some very arduous times. We experienced a true brotherhood together and it gave me a glimpse of what men coming back from war must feel like. The frustrations, hurts and fears were tackled together. It wasn’t simply work, it was life. Therapy sessions at Cedar Point (the greatest amusement park in the world), were always appreciated as there is something about going 90 mph, white knuckled and staring death in the face that keeps life in perspective (that and Kim made Hallow Weekends most enjoyable).  20130528-135637.jpg

Through it all, I saw a man who continued to love his God and his family well. He guided his family to safe harbor through some rough waters. Some people use difficulties as a reason to give up on God, to excuse inappropriate response or to get out of ministry. I saw in Tom a heart that became more focused and grew through the difficulty. That’s a God thing. I have appreciated Tom’s heart, example, passion, wisdom, creativity and laugh.

Tom, love ya bro. Please hit the Millennium Force for me.

I am so thankful for the godly men that God has placed in my life. Their instruction, example, correction and encouragement have meant so much to me and helped me become the man I am today. I am certain that having such people in life is critical to a healthy walk with God.  People who faithfully point the way are a divine gift.  Anyone can lead, but what are they leading to? That’s where Paul could say, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).  I am blessed and can only hope that I lay down some faithful tracks myself.

One of my favorite songs by Tom reflects the coming glory of the church and the hope we have in Jesus.  We have so much to celebrate and so much to look forward to:

She Will Shine

Some look at her and they see a fallen woman
A perfect picture of an imperfect bride
He’ll be calling her home, he loves her
She’s the one he adores

And she will shine like the stars in a midnight sky
She will shine like the sun, she begins to rise
She will shine

Many years he has been so patiently waiting
For the time when his love will be glorified
The procession begins, he holds her
As the trumpet sounds

And she will shine like the stars in a midnight sky
She will shine like the sun, she begins to rise
She will shine

Pure and white
She will shine
We’ll be together glorified

She will shine like the stars in a midnight sky
She will shine like the sun, she begins to rise
We will shine like the stars in a midnight sky
We will shine like the sun, we begin to rise

We will shine

(CD is available here)

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