Session 2 - Everyday Heroes

Any parent appreciates every day “heroes” who set an example for their children to follow. They may come in the form of a coach, a teacher, an older sibling or a camp counselor. For a truly inspirational look at every day “heroes” read Tim’s introduction to a special printing of his book, Raising Kids for True Greatness.

If you'd like to see what true greatness looks like with your own eyes, you'll probably have to get on a waiting list. Last time I checked, it's backed up for several years. If you finally get the call, however, don't hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity.It may be the best chance you'll ever have to see so many people committed to something so extraordinary in one place at the same time.

I know. I've been there. I found it at the end of a long, meandering road in East Texas. It's a back road that our family has traveled every summer for the past twenty-five years. Every year, we'd follow a narrow, tree-draped ribbon that wound its way over rolling hills and through sleepy Texas hamlets. One point in the trip held a special sense of mystery and awe to our children when they were young. It's a tree tunnel-dark, cool, and dappled with light. Driving through that tree tunnel still brings a sense of excitement and anticipation, like the feeling you get after a long trip when you finally round the last turn toward home. This path not only leads to a point on the map, but to us and to the thousands of other families who have made their way down that road, it is also leads to true greatness.

It's a place called Pine Cove. Though I've been a guest speaker at this spiritual retreat center for the past twenty-five years, I can personally attest to the fact that Pine Cove's lasting impact on people has very little to do with who the speaker is. It's not the program either-even though it's a lot of fun. It's the people.

More specifically, it's the college students who surround you during the week. You may come for the food, the comfortable accommodations, or the quiet setting. And there's no doubt that the chance to ride horses and participate in water sports has a strong appeal. But a lot of summer camps offer this same list of amenities. There aren't many, however, that work their way into your heart quite like this place.

From the time you arrive to the moment you watch the rolling hills fade in your rearview mirror, Pine Cove engages you in a crash course in true greatness. And it's done without them ever mentioning the subject. They don't need to. You can't miss it.

Before I go any further, you need to know something. This isn't an advertisement for Pine Cove; it's a setup to our discussion about greatness. After all, Pine Cove doesn't need any helpfrom me. As I mentioned earlier, most of their events have awaiting list. And Pine Cove isn't the only conference centerwith staff members who demonstrate true greatness. It's justone of the most effective, that's all.

When you are there, the attitude of the college students who serve you validates that something amazing is going on. Enthusiasm is a constant. Passion and compassion are no respecter of persons-each guest receives the staff 's full treatment of kindness, love, and personal attention. Everyone from your newborn baby to your ailing grandmother is valued from the time he or she enters through the front gates. This is what happens when you recruit people who want to live their lives for something more than success.

Anonymity and Sacrifice During your stay at Pine Cove, you don't know whether these college kids are from the top of their class or barely getting by academically. You don't know whether they come from wealthy neighborhoods or from the wrong side of the tracks. Some are; some aren't. Some do; some don't. These exuberant students are recruited from colleges across the country for the express purpose of being used by God to serve other people for His glory. They don't do it for the money; they hardly make minimum wage. They don't do it for the recognition; in fact, you never get to know their actual names. Instead, they go by camp nicknames like “Juicy Fruit” or “Troubadour”- names derived from a humorous anecdote in their past or a unique skill they have. They don't do it for the leisure either; they work week after week to the point of exhaustion. So why do these college students give so much of themselves every summer for what appears to be so little in return? They do it because they are committed to living for true greatness. They do it for the opportunity to apply their faith in a substantive and meaningful way. They do it because they want something more than what life has to offer them personally. They want to make a difference, to do something with their lives that will outlive them. So they give and give and give-of their time, their energy, and every last bit of their hearts.

Here's what's interesting. For a quarter of a century, I have watched some of the most successful people in a five-state area make their way to this spiritual vacation destination. So often, I hear them say something to the tune of, “I wish my son (or daughter) would grow up to be like one of these counselors” or, “I wish my daughter (or son) could end up marrying someone like one of these counselors.” Invariably, these Fortune 500 guests leave with the impression that the college students who serve them throughout the week have far more going for them than many of the guests who happen to be charter members of the rich and famous. In many cases, the students on staff at Pine Cove do have more going for them. That's because they've aimed their lives at something far more significant than success; they've aimed at true greatness.

A Journey into True Greatness Please join me on a journey. In this book, I will guide you through some corridors of spiritual thinking that are avoided by most comfortable Christians. These well-marked pathways lead to A-level biblical priorities, yet they are seldom traveled in our prosperous, twenty-first-century spiritual culture. Those of you (and especially parents) who choose to slip down these corridors, however, will discover a wealth, depth, and excitement beyond your wildest imagination. I want to take you on an odyssey that can transform you and your children into people who will never view God, yourself, or other people in the same way. It's an expedition into true greatness.