This morning I remember my friend, Abuna Nasr. Fr. Constantine Nasr is a nineth generation minister. Born Palestinian in Jerusalem, he is the continuance of over 400 years of Christian ministers father to son in the Holy Land. He keeps the communion cup handed down father to son over those 400 years. That is generational living. That is the blessing of the father continuing and continuing.
As we mourn the disruption in the church at Oklahoma City this week with a “father in the faith” under public scrutiny and stepped out of ministry influence, I think of generational men like Dr. Herman Reece of CBMC and Tom Hill of Character First and Fr. Nasr of the Antiochan Orthodox and Dr. Frank Tunstall of the IPHC and Dr. Major Jemison of the Progressive Baptist convention. These men each have full right to speak into my life and they do just that. From the ecclesiastical, ecumenical, expressionist, evangelical and executive seats of influence they are nation changers and generation builders.
While soaking the wisdom of Abuna Nasr (Abuna is a special personal distinction and means spiritual father), he shared a generational blessing with me. He reached to his wedding ring and turned it on his finger. “Phil, when you are away from your wife, just do this and remember who you are.” He was challenging me to be a man of generations and stability and keep a long term view of faithfulness and covenant. Here is a tip handed down for generations father to son and now is my blessing. He’s right.
Tom looked at me recently and said, “Phil, you are not responsible for the results. You are responsible to do the right thing. Keep doing it.” Wise words from a generational man. He’s right.
This morning Ed Zielinski, county attorney in Cooke County, Texas, turned to me in conversation. Sitting at a chamber of commerce breakfast, we were talking about some young men on probation who have trouble thinking a clear thought. Fatherless and a life of drugs and crime and their minds just don’t work clearly. And yet another man, who spent 30 years in prison, who is now working to live a good life. Ed admonished me, “Phil, God designed you to help these men think through this.” He’s right.
It is good to be surrounded by generational men, who meditate in the word of God day and night, who do not sit in the seat of the scornful, and who work on growing forests instead of flowers. It is easy to grow a temporary garden of flowers that fade in a few days after blooming. It is tough to grow a forest of trees that will stand 400 years. Fathers grow forests.