It’s not often that I miss posting on Friday, but every once in while there are experiences in life that interrupt and cause us to push everything else aside. Thus, was the case for me this past week. The world lost an amazing man. A loyal friend. A faithful husband. An amazing father. While this happens to many families around the globe each and every day this time it was my family and my father-in-law that was lost.
Over the past week, we sang, cried, laughed, cried, rejoiced, cried, grieved, cried, ate, and cried some more. It has been a really short and really long week all at the same time. I have heard it said and experienced myself numerous times before, but it really is the case that you never truly understand how much someone is worth to you until they are gone. And my father-in-law, Shawn Michael Stockdale meant a lot, not just me, but to over 500 other people who attended his memorial service.
I had the privilege and honor of making the opening remarks at dad’s memorial service yesterday, Sunday, October 1st, 2017 and wanted to share my reflections on the life of an excellent, godly example of a husband, father, and friend.
“Good afternoon! My name is Kenny Kirby and I am one of Shawn and Kay’s son-in-laws. I am married to their eldest daughter Bethany. On behalf of Kay, Bethany and myself, Brynna and Brent, Micah and Liz, Caleb, Talia, Ana, Shawn’s brothers Chris and Mark and the rest of our extended family, thank you. Thank you all for joining us today to celebrate and remember dad’s life.
All of us are here because of Dad. Not because of his authority. Not because of position. Certainly, not because of his stature. We are here because of his influence. And as John Maxwell says, “Leadership is Influence”. Truth is, we are all here because Shawn Stockdale led each of us in some way. He led some of us as a trusted financial advisor. He led others of us as a faithful friend. And he led a few of us as a family.
But dad would be the first one to tell us all he was not the greatest leader. He was not the greatest influencer. His greatest identity was not as one who influences. It was not as a leader. Dad’s greatest identity was as a follower. Dad would remind us that the only way he influenced and lead any of us was because of WHO he followed.
Dad followed another leader. A leader who had great authority. A leader who had the most elevated position. A leader who to influence others gave up His position and unmatched authority. A leader who became a servant. Shawn Stockdale followed a leader, an influencer who, ‘though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’
Shawn Stockdale’s greatest identity was as a follower. A follower of the humblest of authorities. A follower of the greatest servant leader. A follower of Jesus Christ. You see dad’s impact. Dad’s leadership. Dad’s influence was all because of WHO he followed. And the hope of today’s memorial service is not simply to recall Shawn Stockdale. It is not to remember the trusted financial advisor. It is not to recall dad as the faithful friend. It is not to remember dad as the leader of a great family.
Our hope, dad’s desire, is to influence all of us to follow him as He followed the greatest influencer, the greatest leader of all time, Jesus Christ.”