In today’s BBTL book entry, Chet writes about surgeons, preachers and leaders. As he puts it, “surgeons are cool, preachers are caring.” Surgeons are “strategically competent,” while preachers are “empathetically connected.” Leaders, he writes, must be both.
As I sat reading Chet’s words this morning, my mind went swiftly on one person – Larry Allen.
Those of you who had the privilege of knowing Larry will likely agree with everything I’m about to share. For those who did not, I will do my best.
I met Larry fifteen years ago, just after meeting Chet. The two of them had long since bonded and Banded together as BTL partners, and following my time as Chet’s client, I became Larry’s. I had made the decision to join them in this work and Larry was to serve as both my Builder and my mentor. What a blessing!
Larry was, in my eyes, the exact “surgeon capable of sermons,” as Chet describes in today’s writing. He was absolutely a surgeon. I can remember our meetings in his den as if they were yesterday. He’d fix his laser focus on me, deliver a scalpel-sharp observation or question, and study me and my answer with his full and unwavering attention. I’m not going to lie…I was a bit intimidated. Larry had a look, a way of patiently but seriously staring at me, which said, “We’re not going anywhere until you answer honestly.” And so, I did.
And Larry was meticulous. He brought an A-B-C logic to even the most layered subjects, and had a gift for making the complicated easily understood. He was most certainly a surgeon.
But Larry was also a brilliant preacher, literally. Larry used to tell me my work experience in our family business was an ideal background for a BTL Builder. I’d laugh and say, “No way! Your background as a pastor is perfect!,” because it was. Larry brought a pastor’s patience to every practice we ever shared. Beneath that serious, stoic, and sometimes intimidating exterior was a kindness and compassion few men possess. One moment he could be freezing you with a look that demanded truth, and the very next be holding your hand while you worked your way through it. Larry could teach, entertain, move, challenge, and inspire – all in the course of a single sentence, always delivered from the heart. Everything I ever heard him say was from the heart. He epitomized truth in love.
Yes, Larry was that rare and ideal combination of surgeon and preacher – cool and caring, strategic and empathetic. I saw that as his client and I saw that as his friend. And I’m sure those who were clients and friends longer than I saw it, too. He is dearly missed and fondly remembered by so very many.
Larry was a true master in the art of living.