I'd be hard pressed to count how many times, as I've travelled around East Africa, that I've heard the name "Don Jacobs". He certainly left a legacy there after years of missions. I then was blessed with the honor of visiting with him in his home in April. Now I get it. What a man, full of Jesus. At the end of the visit, he handed me a small stack of books he had written, as a gift. One of them was his life story, "What a Life! - a Memoir". I've spent the last month soaking in the stories and being poured into.
Its been a long time since I've read a book that blessed me this much. I feel like it was uniquely for me at specifically this time. There was so much I could connect into:
- American born
- African heart
- Love for culture
- Missions in Tanzania
- Lancaster Mennonite Conference connections
- Leadership Development
- World Travel
- Being a Dad & Husband amidst it all
- Frequent leadership appointments
The history and insight about the church in East Africa was the best orientation I could've asked for before moving there in just three weeks.
The cultural lessons that emerge from the stories are gems that will prevent much pain if I'll apply them.
The way he honestly shared regrets and mistakes will be a grace gift to me and my family in the years to come.
The values and principles weaved through the story are priceless, timeless and far too rare in Christian leaders. I want them more in my life.
A few weeks back, I received a personal note in the mail from Don Jacobs reflecting on our visit and speaking prophetically that I would write my own book like this someday, and it would bless many. As I read his life story, I feel more energy than ever to faithfully live and form my story so that indeed, one day, there is something to say that will bless younger leaders like this book did me!
For kicks, here's on excerpt that really ministered to me...how's this for a Jesus-type understanding of leadership?:
I began to see a pattern in my life. It was shaped, I suppose, by being a missionary. As I look back, I see that as soon as I picked up a new responsibility I knew that, in time, I must relinquish it. Defective missionaries do not claim to a role as theirs, but seek to pass the baton to others when it is possible to do so. I was not only a missionary but a teacher. A teacher's greatest delight is to see a student surpassing even the teacher. I think I can honestly say that one of the great delights of my life has been seeing others pick up something from me, or from someone else, and then run with it. Therefore, I tried to hold lightly what I had in my hands, knowing full well that I must pass it on. To do so with joy and grace is a marvelous gift of God.