Remembering a Common Man


I think the last time I wrote for the blog I talked about a funeral, and I'm about to do it again. Not because I like funerals so much, but because reflecting on a person's legacy has a profound effect on me. It brings into focus the choices the person has made and how those choices affect their generation and the generations to follow.


I got to know Roy because his son was my best friend in college. It wasn't that I spent so much time with him back then, but I always enjoyed visiting their home, and I definitely came to respect and appreciate Roy. I didn't see him often after college, but our paths still crossed occasionally. I knew his health had been declining for the last few months, but it was still a shock to show up to work at the hospital and see the family and hear that the doctors had reached the end of what they could do for him. I'd like to think I'm still too young for people my age to be losing their parents. I was able to help care for Roy that night in the hospital, and by the next day they had agreed that going home on hospice would be the best choice. I brought my family by to see him the next evening, and he was visibly weaker but still able to speak.


“Lots of people have come to see me today, but the person I'm really waiting to see is Jesus.”


Words from the heart, and words with more impact than a hundred sermons. We talk about how our faith affects our view of life and death, but right there as he stared death in the face, Roy was going all in. He passed away the next afternoon, Easter Sunday.


Roy's memorial service was yesterday, and I was fascinated, as always, to see how people remembered him. One thing for sure, he was a common man, an everyday guy. He was a farmer, a machinist, a family man, and a fan of sprint car racing. There was really nothing famous or fancy about the person that he was. However, when they asked for people in the audience to share memories of Roy, I couldn't help but notice who stood up. Mostly men, mostly middle-aged and older, some from the church, and some who probably rarely go to church, but overall not the type who normally say a lot at memorial services. Their respect was evident.


            “Roy was my neighbor....”

            “Roy hauled hay for me....”

            “Roy worked for me in the machine shop....”

            “I worked with Roy in the hospital....”


There was ample evidence that you can be a common man, live a Godly life, and have an impact on the people around you. As a society we spend a lot of time keeping up with the Kardashians or wondering when the next royal baby will be born, but too often we overlook the potential of the common man who follows God. Even at Faith in the Field when we talk about the Epic Adventure program and fathers mentoring their children, we can tend to make it sound like good fathers are something rare and superhuman. I suppose it's part of human nature to assume that the rich and famous are more worthy of respect and recognition than others, but the truth is that the common man who has his priorities in the right places can have an unmistakeable impact on a lot of people. People may not aspire to be a common man, but the world would be better off with a few more like Roy.