When you picture someone who impacts hundreds or thousands of people, who do you picture? Do you picture great figures like Martin Luther King Jr. or Billy Graham, men who undoubtedly shaped the world through their life and influence? Do you go all the way back to women like Queen Victoria or Joan of Arc, leaders who made such an impression that their names are known by millions? Of course, there will never be anyone who has left a living legacy like the one Jesus left. His legacy not only touched those around Him but has grown to touch generation after generation. None can compare to it.
While there are many famous people who impacted people for good, I believe there are many who are not famous, at least on earth, with an equally positive impact. These lives will continue to live on long after they have left this planet. I may not be able to name all of the unknown heroes who have created golden ripples in the pond of this life, I do know one such man who carried himself in a way that will live on well beyond his own life.
That man was my father, Max Newman.
Max Newman was an incredible husband, father and just a very, very good man. My dad, who passed away last month on December the 29th, will never be known by the speeches he gave, the millions he made or by the sports career he lived (although he loved sports and taught us to love them as well). He will never be known for the books he wrote or the sermons he preached, nor the companies he led. No, my dad was not famous, having only been a correctional guard in a Federal Prison and a county jail. I would bet there was only a handful who ever knew his name or what kind of man he really was.
How will someone who isn’t known by their accomplishments, wealth, or fame go on to impact thousands of other people? How will being a good husband and father rank as high as being a world leader, the kind who changed history or the way people worship God?
Simple: God’s ways are not like our ways nor is God’s economy like our economy or way or thinking.
My dad will influence hundreds and thousands (and maybe even millions) because he influenced his family and his friends. He gave when there were no great titles to be bestowed, no great trophies to accept and no yearly bonuses or stock options to cash in. My dad did it right and gave where it counted most. In remembering my dad, all of his three sons—Alan, Robert and myself—recounted a man who would work midnight shifts so he could be at our ball games or events. A man who would pay the price to make sure that his sons had a way to pursue their dreams; whether it was sports, music, ministry or business, dad made the sacrifice. In almost 60 years of marriage to our mother, he not only provided what we all needed, he provided it with love.
You see, my dad was a simple man with a simple plan: love God, love his family and love and support this great country that God has blessed us with. He told me once that his greatest reward was us, his children. Not only the memories we had of him and mom, but the future generations of grandchildren and great-grandchildren who would also come to know and love “PawPaw” as a great man.
The week of his memorial service, when everyone had gathered at my parent’s house, do you know what everyone wanted—including the grandchildren? They all wanted something special to remember my dad by. Some got tools while others got clothing. I got his Bible and it is a treasure to me, especially since it has handwritten notes in that he took, some from times I was preaching. You see, it wasn’t even about the items themselves as much as it was the influence they represented. One day the items will cease and his name, outside of a book or family tree, will fade away…but his influence will go on and on and on. How do I know that? Because his influence caused me to be the man I am today, and my life and influence have caused my children to be who they are. God calls this a generational blessing. Truly, there is no end to how far it can go, even to the thousandth generation.
My dad did it right, and my hope and prayer is that each generation will continue to pass on the influence of my dad. Even if they don’t know where this influence started, may it always continue to the thousandth generation. Thank you, dad, for starting the ripple.