I wrote about the need for positive role models in the July issue. My friend, Dr. George Mathison, the senior pastor at the Auburn Methodist Church, wrote a piece recently about his older brother Dr. John Ed Mathison. John Ed, who has also been a good friend of mine over the years, served as the Senior Pastor at Frazier United Methodist Church in Montgomery until his retirement. George tells about his big brother in the following:
Next to my dad, the most influential man in my life is my brother, John Ed. I remember as a little boy growing up in the Methodist parsonage in Opelika how I looked up to him and wanted so much to be like him. We shared the same bedroom, and I remember how lonely I felt when he graduated from Clift High School in Opelika and went away to Young Harris College to begin his college studies. I remember the first night I cried myself to sleep because I missed him so much. I remember how lonely that room was because I missed my brother.
John Ed was powerfully influential in the five most important decisions of my life. First, in him I saw the love of God, and because of his faith I committed myself in faith to that same God.
Secondly, John Ed felt God’s call upon his life to go into the ministry when he was in the 10th grade in high school. His calling was so genuine and so real that he immediately went to work and was licensed to preach as a Methodist minister at the young age of 16. I saw what “a call to ministry” was in his life, and God’s call upon my life to ministry was in many ways modeled by him.
Thirdly, John Ed instilled within me a love for tennis. For several years he was the No. 1 player in his age division in the state of Alabama, and he was ranked No. 1 in the South when he was in the 35-year age group. John Ed attended college on a basketball and tennis scholarship. I remember how he taught me to love tennis as he worked and practiced with me on the old concrete tennis courts behind Northside School in Opelika. Because of his efforts, I was able to attend college on a tennis scholarship, and tennis is a sport that I have retained throughout my life.
Fourthly, he inspired within me a hunger for education – and a desire to go “the second mile.” Following his graduation from seminary at Emory, he went on to get another degree from Princeton and a doctorate at Emory. Because of John Ed’s example, after I graduated from Emory, I went on to graduate school at Sewanee, Vanderbilt, and Yale.
Fifthly, it was because of him that I met Monteigne. I was a senior in high school when John Ed was invited to preach at a youth gathering at Camp Glory in Perdido Beach, Ala. Young people from several churches in our conference were in attendance. I went along with John Ed as we drove down from Opelika to the Alabama coast. We were in our dad’s new four-door hardtop Pontiac. We listened to the Big BAM radio station out of Montgomery, and we drove with the windows down. We were COOL when COOL wasn’t even COOL yet. It was during that week that I met a pretty little girl from Pensacola, Fla. Her youth group from Warrington Methodist Church was in attendance at the camp. She was only 12 years old. Her name was Monteigne. Eight years later, at John Ed’s parsonage when he was serving the South Brookley United Methodist Church in Mobile, I asked her to marry me.
Yes, John Ed has had a tremendous influence upon my life, and through his ministry at Frazer, he has powerfully impacted the United Methodist Church. This Sunday he will be preaching for us in the three sanctuary services. I will be preaching at the Chapel of the Living Waters at Lake Martin. This chapel is across the lake from the Church in the Pines. Please be in prayer for Monteigne and me, and our love and thoughts will be with you, John Ed. Charles.
The above is a perfect example of what being a positive role model is all about. It shows the effect of being a role model and what it can bring about. In this instance, it was in a family setting and it brought about a tremendous result.
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