The Impact of an Encourager
During Stann Leff’s successful career in the corporate world, God was shaping him for a unique ministry of encouraging pastors and ministry leaders. What was woven into his life during his business years is now a primary focus in “retirement” years. The story in Stann’s words…
What a special privilege it is to share my desire and vision for building a close supportive relationship with Pastors, Christian Leaders and men across the country. As I look back I realize it has been the Lord leading and directing my life journey the entire time. Over the past 34+ years I have committed time and energy to work closely with these individuals in coaching, mentoring, and encouraging them as individuals and servants of our Lord. In 2005 I left the corporate world and during that time have been involved intentionally in the lives of over 85 men. I have worked directly with each person with the intention of supporting them in their life journey and service for our Lord. In each case the Holy Spirit has been the key source of strength and direction while I have had the privilege of being His servant. God has been so merciful and good to us and we are so thankful and committed to serving Him!
How did I get to the point of wanting to be involved in this kind of ministry. It started first of by being born into a Pastor’s home. My Dad was my hero and closest friend. He and my Mom were very loving, caring, fun parents. I am thankful for my heritage and loved my parents very much. It was out of that atmosphere that I came to a personal relationship with Christ. Being raised in a Pastor’s home also influenced my heart for Pastors and Ministry. My Dad cared a lot about others and focused personally and professionally on praying for and reaching out to other Pastors and individuals with words of encouragement and support. He stayed on that course literally until the Lord took him home at age 95.
After marrying the love of my life and graduating from college my wife and I chose early on to get involved in a church were we lived and as opportunities became available we would get involved in serving. We worked with youth, taught Sunday school classes, and served in other supportive and leadership positions. I served on the board and as Church chairman in three different churches. It was always our desire to support our Pastor and Staff in any way we could. Most important to us was developing relationships with individuals in the church or in the community we lived. Through those connections we found plenty of opportunities to be an encourager or mentor to others. It never was about having all the answers but rather about loving and listening.
I spent thirty-five years working in the Corporate world. This journey included working for five different major Corporations, in 12 different locations and living in 17 different homes. Twenty-eight of those 35 years I had the top Human Resource position for the Company or Division I worked for. This required many moves, many hours, many challenges, and the opportunity to build many relationships with different individuals along the way. It was my desire to live and act as a servant leader who was willing to work hard and well with others, and one that was supportive of what needs to be done and willing to lead humbly.
There was a time period during this life journey that I became consumed with ‘me’ and my heart turned away from the Lord. I wandered in the wilderness and headed down a path that could have led to total destruction for me and my dear family. I was consumed with work and my own self. Because the Lord did not desert me, He used His Holy Spirit to make me more and more miserable and gave me a desire to return back to Him and my family responsibilities. God took me to James 1:5-8, “If anyone of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man unstable in all his ways.”
I clearly saw myself in that verse and recommitted myself to my Lord and my dear family. I confessed my sins to my Lord, to my wife and family, and to my church family. I yielded to the Holy Spirit, and didn’t seek to diminish my sins or have them overlooked. I didn’t want to pretend nothing happened. That is still my attitude today. My wife and I learned from this that Christ, the Good Shepherd longs to bring His children home; and that our God is a loving God who freely offers grace and forgiveness to His children and is able to bring about reconciliation that defies human understanding. Our objective now is to finish our lives together with a depth of love, grace, and humility that I might not of had apart from God breaking me. We want to share our love with others and show them them there is a tomorrow.
So again as I look back it is not about my own choices and opportunities, but rather about the Lord at work in my life leading, guiding, and protecting me along the way. It is out of these times in my life that my desire grew to reach out to others such as Pastors, Christian leaders and young men and provide encouragement, coaching and friendship. My priorities as His servant are;
* as a ‘Person,’ to know and love Christ with all my heart;
* as a ‘Partner,’ to love, honor and cherish my lovely wife with all my heart;
* as a ‘Parent,’ to love, enjoy and encourage my family in all their ways;
* as a ‘Profession,’ to coach, mentor and encourage Pastors and other men for the glory and honor of my Lord!