[A]mong you [greatness] will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves (Luke 22:26-27 NLT).
Important people do great things that people know about. Great people do important things regardless of whether people know about them or not. Paul Falkner was a great person. When my dad died when I was 25, Paul was increasingly there for me as a mentor and a friend. I didn't deserve it; he just was that kind of person.
For those of us at Heartlight.org and VerseoftheDay.com, Paul was incredibly important. When the Lord prompted me to use the internet to minister in November of 1995, the internet was not very important and largely unknown as an emerging communicational presence in the world. As I searched for other resources to share in our first year on the web, Paul provided me with a CD full of short, one-minute inspirational and devotional ideas to use — see a few of these articles in the Related Links at the bottom of the page. We still use Paul's articles today.
Having him as a writer was vital to us for several reasons. We were unknown and just beginning, far from the 300,000 plus people per day in the 15 languages we are today. Paul's content was excellent and carried some of that Paul Faulkner homespun humor and truth. His presence legitimatized us. If he was willing to share content, we were considered worthy of people's time and investigation. He was contemporary with my dad, so his facilitating the development of a new emerging communication channel was a clear statement to his contemporaries and my elders that this was a worthwhile investment of time, energy, and money. Plus, it was much-needed personal support for that young minister to confidently step into a new area of ministry and know he wasn't alone.
Paul did far more than invest in our online ministry. He was a confidant and friend. He supported my preaching ministry. Paul and his wife, Gladys, were a blessing to Donna and me in the crazy years of ministry, teaching, and raising a young family. He was always available to talk on the phone. Then Paul and Gladys moved close to Austin and offered his beautiful ranch as a place to visit, write, and pray — see a personal tribute on Facebook. He blessed our church, ministry, families, and my life in immeasurable ways. One of the most recognizable is my "cornbread English, " which is my version of Paul's cornbread English he challenged me to use.
Early in our Heartlight years, the Lord led us to Ben Steed. Ben was a bright, Jesus-loving student at Harding University who needed a little help with his senior year funding. We purchased verseoftheday.com from Ben if he agreed to stay on as part of our team. Paul interceded for him on a scholarship opportunity, and Ben was one of Harding's first Information Technology graduates. Paul's influence then meant we had three generations of faith on which to build our ministry! Ben continues today as my full partner, younger friend, vital team member, and I hope, successor.
We are not alone as recipients of the kindness, encouragement, and love of Paul Faulkner. Many others have received the gracious touch of Paul and Gladys. A well-known preacher said that Paul was a great encouragement for young preachers. He is well known and dearly loved. But, as I said at the beginning of this post:
Yes, "the leader should be like a servant." Thank you, Paul, for living that truth!