Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7
Allow me to obey that verse right now in this post. This is an extremely short glimpse of the profound thankfulness I have for my youth pastor and co-laborer in the gospel, Dr. Dave Keehn. Youth pastors, take note, Dave’s is the exemplary life and ministry.
Dave, you hunted me down like a lion on Sunday mornings as I grazed the donut table. Although I, a little 8th grader, continued to turn down your invitations to youth group countless times, you continued to pursue me and invite me; you continued to remind me that you cared about my soul. Finally I gave in and, from that point, my life would forever be changed. So profound was this change that one could even say, when I finally took you up on your offer, my life began.
You brought me to know the peace of Christ and the fellowship of God. You have taught me the Scriptures from the beginning of my new life in Christ. You discipled me faithfully day after day, week after week, month after month for 14 years. From you, I learned how to read the Bible, teach the Bible, pray in response to the Bible, and enjoy God and all His grace given in Jesus Christ. You answered my questions – both the good ones and the bad ones. You gave me a taste for books and the gift they are to the church. Dave, God has used you to bring me into His family and you have held my hand and showed me everything since.
Not only do I have you to thank for my life in Christ, but also for the ministry you now are passing onto me. As a young high schooler, you planted seeds of pastoral ministry in my heart when you taught me how to lead a Bible study so my wrestler friends could meet Jesus and be saved. When you saw my growing desire toward pastoral ministry, you were quick and faithful to fan that flame. My senior year of high school you took me on as a youth ministry intern and, for the next five years, you personally trained me in how to do youth ministry well. You taught me to preach. You taught me to administrate. You taught me to lead. You taught me to serve. You taught me to love. You were quick to encourage my victories, lovingly faithful to correct my missteps, and always quick to forgive my sins. You worked tirelessly to ensure me a spot on the youth ministry team when I graduated from BIOLA. To give a picture, I was your clay and you, my potter. Therefore, if I completely fail this next chapter of youth ministry, it’s your fault (wink wink).
But, Dave, you wern’t just interested in me being a good minister of the gospel, but, in fact, even greater than that, you have always wanted me to be a good husband and a good father first. When Chawna and I were dating, you inquired about the purity of our conduct to safeguard us from sorrow. You and your excellent wife Debbie would take Chawna and I out to dinners with no agenda other than loving us and enjoying our company (which for a young man from a divorced family, that meant the world to me). At all the appropriate times you intentionally taught me things that still bless my family to this day. You taught me how to budget. You taught me how to keep a calendar and make sure family gets scheduled as a priority. You taught me how to communicate and deal with conflict. You taught me to never let ministry become my mistress. You taught me that marriage is not 50/50, but 100/100 in seeking to serve one another. You taught me to pursue my wife and never stop dating her. You helped us walk through the minefield of pre-marital counseling and because of that we have been saved from a multitude of errors, tears, and most likely hundreds of dollars in marriage counseling bills. On August 21, 2010, you officiated our wedding and made it one of the most memorable days of my life – and you didn’t even complain when we didn’t pay you (again, wink wink).
Even beyond teaching me how to be a good husband, you have taught me countless things about being a good father too. You taught me that daddies must study each of their children so they can love them individually according to their temperaments and personalities. My Little Daisy Jane – and the (Lord willing) many other children we will have – will all have a daddy who gives them focused, intentional, individual time every week doing things they like to do because their spiritual grandpa taught daddy to do that well.
I could literally go on for hours because of all you have done (and my inherent long-windedness), but I feel this statement sums up well everything I have said and would say if I had the time. Dave, this is my conclusion: without you in my life, I would not have my life.
Everything I cherish – my Savior and His salvation, my wife, my daughter, our church, this youth ministry – I enjoy because of you being faithful to pastor me well. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
For this reason, I have no problems calling you my father because that is what you are. With great joy, I affirm what we have always said, you are my Paul and I will forever be your Timothy.
Father God, thank you my spiritual Father, Dave Keehn. You have used him mightily these past 14 years to bless us and bear our burdens. He has done that all with a smile on his face and a fire t-shirt on his back. And now Lord, shine you face upon your son and our pastor. May he, in the coming years, experience your peace and overflow with your love in even greater measure than these past 14 years. Use him to make Jesus look great as you have done already.
Thank you for Pastor Dave.
But, please note, I am only one voice among countless.