/ Guest Author

Lessons Learned from a Friend

The following is a guest post written by Mark Sampson, Director of Institutional Advancement at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a ruling elder at Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania.

Psalm 145:4  One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

For the last twelve years, I have had the distinct pleasure of sharing a cup of coffee with John Mitchell at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) on most Tuesdays. 9:30 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, John would stop by my office, and over steaming cups of coffee, I would learn many things that I have come to treasure.

Many do not know John (and he would be okay with that) and his quiet service to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. He served as a professor in the Business Department at Geneva College and as a ruling elder at Rose Point Reformed Presbyterian Church. For the thirteen years that I have served at RPTS, John has also served as an archivist in the denomination’s archives. That means an hour-plus drive to the Seminary to process through boxes of historical “junk” that people find in their basements and attics. These items help tell the story of God’s faithfulness through the generations.

Some random things that I have learned from John:

·Carry your own water – When John appears for coffee, he usually has a bottle of water and a K-cup for the Keurig. While usually prepared and not wanting to be a burden, he is always ready to accept a gift of coffee should he be short on supplies.

·Being punctual and consistent is good, but flexibility is also a gift. Stuff happens in life. Don’t let it stress you out.

·God has worked miraculously through the lives of so many ordinary people around the world. You just need to take time to learn who these people are. They are all around you if you just look.

·Faithful and quiet service show a life of contentment. How many of us are truly content with where the Lord has placed us in our lives? How many of us are willing to grow and flourish in place, serving the Lord and those whom He places in our lives?

·Stop and take time to talk with others. Put down the phones and devices and share time together.

·Listen carefully to all sides and make Biblical decisions.

·You don’t have to speak to be heard. Your consistent actions and personal relationships are far more impactful than an impassioned speech on the floor of a Presbytery or Synod meeting.

·When you get tired, slow down and take a nap. Perhaps our world would be better if more of us did this.

·When you take pictures, note who the people are. It will be a tremendous act of love for someone in the future.

With an age that starts with a “9”, John could be my father. Well, in many ways, he is my father. How much do I value our time together? When I moved to half-time at RPTS, I chose Tuesdays as my usual day on campus because John is there. He is retiring soon. It is time for the next generation to care about the lessons and people of the past. I will miss Tuesday's coffee but will make sure to meet with John to continue learning. There are so many things I do not know. Proverbs 9:9 reminds us, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”

Who are those older and more mature people in your lives? You need at least one, so get to work! God reminds you that you will not be disappointed.