Before I was a pastor, I was a computer guy. I spent about 10 years in the industry, my last assignment being a team lead within the company's CIO responsible for login services, e-mail, etc. That's not where I started with the company, though.
When I began this new position, the company was called AT&T. Our team was originally tasked with manufacturing computer systems installation and support. Cool stuff. In 1996 when I started, there were 2 guys who were my team. I was 27 years old and just a bit green when it came to a corporate environment. (I had worked for the Gwinnett County School System in tech support before - way different world.) One of my teammates, Jim Gunter, was probably twice my age, and remarkably experienced in surviving the minefield of corporate life. In retrospect, it seems that it would have been particularly easy for him to be unenthusiastic about this young whippersnapper coming in as his supervisor. After all, who was I to be leading him, a veteran of almost 30 years with the company?
But Jim didn't do that. Regardless of my age, my inexperience, or the possibility of his reputation being damaged, Jim took me under his wing and became my mentor. I will love him for the rest of my days for that. I attribute much of my later success in that position to his influence and the investment he made in me - a smart aleck young punk with something to prove.
I don't know why I have been thinking about him so much this week, but I just had to say something. I suppose it's because I miss him. Jim passed away a couple of years ago, after he had retired and I had moved on to become a pastor. But you know what? I'll never forget him. I don't really know if he realized the impact that he had on my life. The thing is, I can't wait to tell him. He is with the Lord, and someday I look forward to sitting under a shade tree in Heaven, drinking sweet tea, and catching up with my dear friend Jim. You bet I plan to tell him what he meant to me.