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Step in the gap

It is an act of love when adults serve as role models for young people, especially for those who have lost a parent.

February is the month that contains one of the most popular celebrations in the United States: Valentine’s Day. On this special day, loved ones express their feelings for their significant others with a card, flowers, candy, or a dinner date. All of these are wonderful expressions of love.

But love doesn’t only need to be expressed in the physical things we share. Sometimes simply spending quality time with a person shows love. This is especially needed in the lives of young individuals who have lost a parent to death, divorce, or distance. Although no one will ever be able to take the place of a parent, some individuals may be able to provide solid, Christian guidance and step in the gap as a young person grows and matures.

This has been the case in my life with Barnette Marshall, the father of Rodney, my best friend in grade school. Mr. Marshall treated me as a second son and still does to this day. He and his wife, Essie, modeled what a good relationship between a husband and a wife looks like. He also taught me things that a father normally teaches a son: how to fish, how to play basketball, how to read instructions and fix things, and how to work hard. He taught me life skills that I still am using. He stepped in the gap for a young man and modeled love.

A growing need nowadays is for mature Christian men to mentor the younger men of a congregation and in society by showing them what a God-pleasing man looks like. It is important for young men to be able to look at their lives and see positive examples of what Christian love looks like in manhood. Whether it be as husbands, fathers, sons, workers, or leaders within the church, we can be models of love that younger men can see and want to imitate.

During my vicar year, my supervising pastor, Vilas Glaeske, stepped in the gap as a role model of love. He introduced me to having a good work life balance in the public ministry. He demonstrated the value of visiting members where they live and work. He also educated me on making time for myself. The Glaeske family’s love showed itself when Pastor Glaeske’s wife, Ruth, gave me the label “Timothy” (cf. 1 Timothy 1:2) and made me a part of the fun getaways with the family.

The apostle Paul points to this role model type of love for both women and men: “Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good” (Titus 2:3-7).

I was shown love when loving older males stepped into the gap in my life. It is an act of love when adults serve as role models. Children and young people need models from whom they can learn some of life’s lessons if a parent is missing from the equation.

If you know of a young person who may need a loving role model and relationship, seek out that person and step in the gap.

Author: Snowden Sims
Volume 111, Number 02
Issue: February 2024

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  • Snowden Gene Sims

    Pastor Sims is a 1980 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran High School, a 1985 graduate of Northwestern College, and a 1989 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. He presently serves as an associate pastor at St. Paul's, Columbus, Ohio. He also serves as the Michigan District President. He is married to Melinda who is an instructor at The Ohio State University. They have a daughter, Erika, who resides in West Allis, Wisconsin. In his spare time Pastor Sims enjoys fishing, hunting, working out, gardening, playing guitar, and listening to jazz.

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