22nd May 2024

I am currently reading the biography of a 20th century prime minister. In the first chapter the biographer writes about one of the future prime minister’s schoolmasters who had a profound influence on him, as he himself acknowledged. This school master also happened to be a great friend of my father. Sadly he didn’t live to see his pupil lead a successful career, as he was killed in a tragic accident soon after the pupil left school.

I recently read in a newspaper the obituary of a man whose father had been a Baptist minister. I had had contact with this minister twice – the first time when he was the chaplain on the RAF station where I did my “square-bashing”, the second time, years later, soon after he retired and happened to be in the congregation when I was conducting a service. Shortly afterwards he told me that something I had said in my sermon that day had helped him make an important decision about how he would spend his retirement. That was a very humbling experience.

These two stories remind us that we can often have more influence on other people’s lives than we may realise at the time. They remind us too that we should be grateful to those who have helped and influenced each of us, and give thanks to God for them.

David T Roberts