Summary: Third in a series on shepherding/mentoring in the church.
Sermon for 1/28/2001
Able to teach
Gene Getz- Mike Cornwall was an elder at my church. He was also long time banker. At one point in time when he was CEO of one of the largest savings and loans in the state of Texas, he and his wife, Sharon, had an unusual experience.
Mike and Sharon were sitting at home having breakfast one Saturday morning when they heard some commotion in front of their home. They looked out the window and saw a group of people walking back and forth in front of their house. It didn’t take but a moment to conclude that they were being picketed.
In a few minutes, someone knocked on the front door. Standing there was a man with a document. Standing beside him was another man with a camera. Mike had never seen these people before and for a moment was puzzled. But very quickly he got the picture loud and clear. This man wanted him to sign the document confessing that his savings and loan organization was “redlining” minorities.
The facts are, the government had passed legislation that could give the impression of redlining. And because Mike’s organization was one of the most prominent in the state of Texas, they targeted his savings and loan- and Mike particularly as the CEO- to let the government know they were not happy.
It was clear that they never expected to get Mike’s signature but, rather, an argument or a slammed door. It would look great on the front page of the Dallas Morning News the next day- hence, the man with the camera.
Nonplussed, these men got neither an argument nor a slammed door. Rather, Mike invited them and all the picketers to come into his family room for a cup of coffee and an open discussion. At first, these people couldn’t believe what was happening, but they soon discovered Mike was sincere.
As they sat in comfort and while Sharon served them coffee, Mike began to share his own journey as a long-term resident in Dallas. He told them of his concern for minorities through the years, and his own involvement in helping build the Martin Luther King Center.
Mike then shifted his comments to an important event in his own life that forever changed his perspective on others. He told his visitors of his conversion to Christ in a Bible study in the home of one of his neighbors. At that point, mouths dropped open, and Mike began to get some positive affirmations. Apparently, some in the group at least understood the gospel.
To make a long story short, these people eventually left, each one thanking Mike and Sharon for their hospitality. Not another word was ever mentioned about their grievances. The picketers got on the bus, drove away and Mike never heard from them again.
That morning Mike effectively communicated the gospel in words and in attitude. Mike was mature enough to respond with kindness and patience. They heard Mike’s testimony regarding his relationship with Jesus Christ and how it changed his life. Hopefully, some of them came to a “knowledge of the truth.” Mike is one who is “able to teach.”