“Work as hard for me as you would like someone to work for you in the future.” 

Those words were spoken to me by my first boss, Pastor Ed Ivie at Calvary Assembly of God in Orlando, FL. I was 21 years old and fresh out of Southeastern University. I was all passion and very little experience. Mornings came late for me and lunch breaks were long. I hadn’t developed the skill of being a full-time, vocational minister. Quite simply, I didn’t know how to work. 

Over the course of the next five years, I watched Ed closely. He displayed a genuine combination of work ethic, creativity, passion and sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Ed taught me what it meant to truly work toward the calling that God had placed on my life. It wouldn’t just happen because I was called. I had to learn what it meant to use a calendar, be early, stay late, retreat, rest, etc.

Ed taught me what it meant to balance a healthy family and marriage. To work hard and go home to be with my new bride (this is back when the Docusens were just David and Dara…no Max, Mary, Jack and Ben).

I am forever grateful for Ed’s influence in my life. As I am now the lead pastor of a young church in Uptown Charlotte, I find myself thinking back these days on many of the lessons I learned when I was in my twenties, observing my mentor. Many of those lessons were educational moments that Ed wasn’t even trying to teach me anything. I just watched and tucked away for future use. I resolved back then to work hard because I loved, respected and admired Ed. He asked me to work hard, and I responded because he had earned my trust.

I believe that God blessed that season and, in turn, has now blessed me with the opportunity to lead an amazing team of talented, passionate leaders at Center City Church. The commitment our team displays to work hard, go above and beyond and live a balanced life is so humbling and inspiring.

I am so grateful for the season in my twenties to sit under such a great leader. I realize that I am now in a position to encourage, raise up and challenge young leaders that are now choosing to serve under my leadership.

I pray that my leadership is as effective in the life of my team as Ed’s leadership was in mine. I am so aware and so grateful for the foundation that I stand upon. And I’m grateful for the patience, love and care of my first boss. 

If you are a leader, remember that your influence goes far beyond the words you speak to your team. They are watching closely, just as I was learning on the fly as a young, twenty-something pastor under Ed’s leadership.

I haven’t said this enough, so this seems appropriate:

Thanks, Ed. Your investment in my life lives on. I am a better child of God, husband to Dara, daddy to Max, Mary, Jack and Ben and pastor for Center City Church because of your influence. I love and appreciate you.