Ten years ago today, our dear friend Larry left us suddenly. I wrote this as a tribute to him and read it (barely) at his Memorial servie. For those of you who knew Larry, I hope this brings back good memories. For those who never met him, let me introduce you to my best builder.
“I can remember first seeing Larry on a bike, and laughing my butt off. He had been given this bike by our mutual friend, Booboo, who had “re-gifted” my old bike to him. Needless to say the bike was built for a 5 foot 10 frame and there was all 6 foot 7 of Larry sitting on it – Smiling.
He had adjusted the seat post with an extra long extender and had somehow modified the stem so that the handlebars now appeared to belong on a clown bike. He didn’t care. He had just gotten bit by the riding bug. That was many moons ago. Larry was a Pastor and I was working in the corporate world. Larry was thoughtful, serious, and intense. I was arrogant, silly, and just as intense. Larry liked structure and order. Me, I don’t know the rules of grammar. Larry saw everything, or so I thought, in <strong>BLACK</strong> and white. I saw tones, shades, and hues of things. Larry loved to know where he was going before he began. Me, not so much. Larry was in awe of mechanical genius and loved to figure out how things were put together. I have Miss put together anything remotely mechanized. Larry liked to work sequentially when solving a problem. I simply enjoyed stirring the pot. Larry liked to run things his way. Me too. As you can see, Larry and I are very different. Over the course of time we became close friends. We both had four children and we both had brides that we cherished. We both loved Jesus too. Larry just knew a few more verses…
Over the years we spent countless hours cycling together around central ohio. Of course, Larry would want to take the same route and I was always trying to mix it up. Larry, being the kinder one, mostly let me have my way. We talked about everything on those rides. We would share our successes and our struggles. We would push each other to go faster. We both loved to compete. And, of course, I would change his name. I always change the names of those that I come to LOVE. I just do. Larry became…
Faster Pastor. Appropriate, yes.
In 2002 I would leave the corporate world, after 20 years, to pursue my OPUS . I would start my own company and call it BUILT TO LEAD. I loved the name, the idea, and the work. I just didn’t know if anyone else would. I decided to focus on building business owners and CEO’s and go from there. I didn’t like anyones approach to leading so I wrote my own. I also decided that I would build Church Leaders as well. I would charge my corporate clients and give, give, give to the Church. So many Pastors needed help and didn’t have the money or the resource. I began to build into a couple Pastors where I was attending and was picking up corporate clients more rapidly than I had expected. I didn’t even mind that I was the only builder. Miss was with me. All was good.
One day, on another of our bike rides, Larry leaned over and asked me if I would consider coaching him, building into him. I was surprised and flattered and took about two seconds to say…
Larry and I began to work on his CORE. It didn’t take long to understand that Larry’s CORE was stronger than mine. It just didn’t. Yet, humbly, he allowed me to share some insights. He was so coachable. He wanted to get better. His strength of character, his strength of conviction, and his courage could scare those that were either lacking or those that just didn’t understand. His power was so easily misunderstood. Together, we walked through some dark times as his ministry was taken from him. I had a front row seat and did not like what I saw. My <strong>LOVE</strong> and respect for Larry was taking it’s roots. He was no longer just another friend. He was becoming my brother. As we rode through this storm we talked and talked. We talked about another ministry. I connected him with Pastors that I knew. I listened and let his big shoulders find mine. Very cool. We were on our bikes and were just turning up Seldom Seen Road and heading for the barn, when Larry turned to me and said, “I think I know what I want to do. I want to join you at BUILT TO LEAD.” I was surprised and flattered and took about two seconds to say…
Larry and I would now build each other and our clients. We would figure it out as we went. We would nearly drive each other crazy as we learned how to transform a collection of two strong individuals into ONE. And struggle we did. Remember, all transforming relationships will be a struggle. A worthy one. Thank God for men like Larry that are inspired by LOVE, courage, and conviction and are willing to fight not to prove a point, but instead, to improve their performance. Thank God for men and women, like Larry, that are willing to take a stand. Thank God for men and women, like Larry, that are called to admonish and to teach. And, thank God for men and women, like Larry, that keep <em>giving</em> even when there’s no<em> green</em> that they’re receiving. Very cool. Larry loved everything about BTL. He loved integrating everything he believed into studying, learning, and applying. He was the best builder I’ve ever seen. His clients loved him too. How could they not? He gave them everything he had and he had a lot. He devoured information and data like it was a Clif Bar. He translated and extrapolated all that learning toward his clients with a laser like challenge, a level head, and an abundant heart. With Larry, you knew you were being built. I can remember when he challenged me that I needed to learn how to read and write. And he was serious. He told me I didn’t know how to read a book and went so far as to suggest one for me to read. He was right.
Larry brought structure and order to my chaos. Together we would transform this experiment we call BTL into a Band of Builders. A transforming band of Kitty, Debbie, Sully, Johnnythegurue, Brownie, Peteboy, The L-Train, and me. Larry was the left to my right. I feel today as I have not simply lost a brother, a fellow builder, and one of the band. I feel like half of my brain is gone. The left half. He left us on May 21st because God’s time is right. We mourn not for our brother Larry. We know, as clear as we see the colors <strong>BLACK</strong> and white, that Larry is in the arms of The Father. We mourn our loss and for the loss born by Kitty and her four. We celebrate Larry’s great ride and we celebrate the many rides we shared with this great, big man. And, as one of our clients said, “God must have a big job that needs to be done because today he took a big man from us.” See you later my dear brother. See you later, Larry. See you later, Faster Pastor. See you later, L-Train. See you later my Builder.
See you later. Yes indeed. We will see you later…”
Today, May 21, 2019 is a blessed day to look back and remember our brother Larry. This mornings practice I shared Larry stories. There will be more this afternoon. Larry left a large legacy of love. Larry transmitted love. He is smiling on the decades worth of growth he’s seen from his band. Today, I am reminded that time is a gift, not a guarantee. I’m going to make it count by giving it my best. How ‘bout you?