When you think of an encouraging person, you usually think of someone who is warm and fuzzy. We all need those kinds of people in our lives. We also need another kind of encourager – those who encourage us to do more. They push us out of our comfort zone and push us to do more than we think we can. They don’t mince words, they tell us exactly like it is because they know that’s their job. It is like steel sharpening steel. They make us better. Dr. Al Metsker was just such a person.
I knew him from a distance all through high school when I was involved with Kansas City Youth For Christ, but I really got to know him when I started Bible College. He was the teacher in one of our classes, and he was the leader of our school. He started pushing me immediately. He pushed me to sing, even though I’m not the best singer. He pushed me to minister with some inner city Bible clubs that were very out of my suburban comfort zone.He pushed me to work harder when i was working at monthly banquets.
I wasn’t always happy with his pushing. Sometimes, I even got mad. I thought I was working hard. I thought I was doing enough. I didn’t think I needed to learn to sing better, and i hated the voice lessons that I had to go to.I see now that he saw something in me and was pushing me to achieve more, and his pushing developed perseverance. He brought out the part of me that wanted to prove to him that I could do it. I’m pretty stubborn, and when I decide I’m going to do something, I do it.
Don’t get my wrong, Dr. Al didn’t just push us, he led by example. He pushed himself to do more, achieve more. If he hadn’t persevered, the ministry that he and his wife Vidy started wouldn’t have been a reality. When they started it, he had a vision and not much more. They persevered during hard times and grew their ministry into a ministry that has touched hundreds of thousands of people
I don’t think I would have made it through that year without his pushing and his example. I had trials, but I was determined to overcome them. I developed an ulcer, had several bouts of strep throat, and had walking pneumonia, yet I persevered.
Three days before graduation and with finals the next two days, I fell and broke my wrist. I never even thought about not taking my finals and not participating in graduation. I knew that you just do what you have to do. On the night of graduation, Dr. Al talked about how I persevered even through my broken wrist. At the time, I just wanted him to stop talking so that graduation would be done because my wrist hurt so bad. Now looking back on it, I know that it was Dr. Al’s way of telling me that he was proud of me.
Although I only worked full-time in youth ministry for about a year, I used those methods that I learned, so many times since then. I led a youth group at our church, I taught Sunday School, I led Bible studies, taught Vacation Bible School and on and on.I still use things I learned that year to help me in my day-to-day life.
I still persevere through things. Stuff happens, and I move through it. I don’t give up. I just keep going. Dr. Al, I hope you can see me these days as I am singing with the choir at my work. I may not have good rhythm or be the best singer, but I am persevering and working to be the best singer that I can.