Ron is not perfect, and this is not only common knowledge, but one of the main reasons why he is such a good mentor.
Leaders are naturally strong personalities and they’re going to butt heads with other strong individuals around them; it comes with the territory. And the temptation among leaders is the need to be 100% right. What if they are not? Fear drives us to have to be right because we are afraid to be real. If people are going to be following you, they need to know they can place their confidence in you. But is that confidence based on you or on the Holy Spirit in you? This is the big question of the new covenant.
That is why the principles we have been spelling out to you lately as we’ve gone through the 2 Corinthians new covenant passage are so important, because they re-write the rules on leadership. The key to strong, effective leadership is not victorious living, where one soars over human foibles and weaknesses, but vulnerable living, where one trudges through the real challenges of life and the struggles one experiences and actually brings hope to others who are dealing with many of the same things.
Think of Paul admitting he was anxious in 2 Corinthians 2 and passed up an opportunity for ministry; and picturing himself as unveiled with nothing to hide in chapter 3; and as a fragile clay pot in chapter 4; and as being afflicted, perplexed, hunted down and struck down also in chapter 4; and as struggling with sin in Romans 7; and as having a “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12. Not to mention the disagreements with some of the early church leaders and parting of ways with others which are mentioned in the book of Acts. There is no attempt to polish up anyone’s image in the New Testament accounts. These are normal, fallible people with issues, and the emphasis on their normalcy makes their trust in the Holy Spirit more palpable.
This was one of the first things I noticed about Ron Ritchie. He was an open book. There was no attempt to hide anything, and in some ways, he would go out of his way to be human in ways you wouldn’t expect from a pastor. Terry Taylor’s song, “Hide the Beer, the Pastor’s Here” would not be Ron. “Crack one open” might be more appropriate. There were all kinds of childish pranks played on each other on the trips we took together with other staff members and lay leaders — jokes at each other’s expense to keep anyone’s head from getting too big. I think one time, Ron pushed Ray Stedman out of the car and left him standing along the side of the road for a while for being obnoxious.
We knew about difficult marriages, we knew about struggles with lust, we knew about impatience, we knew about burn-out, we knew about wanting to call it quits. We knew all these things because the lives of our leaders, for the most part, were available to us, and certainly Ron’s was, and that’s what has endeared him to so many people who now want to see him for one last time.
When I was first getting to know Ron, there was a Ritchie Realty Company with ‘for sale’ signs everywhere that read “AVAILABLE: RITCHIE.” It was a constant reminder to me of Ron’s style of leadership and his example to us to just show up and God will do the rest. I still need that reminder, because I must admit, my style has been more like “FISCHER: BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.”
Though all good, I’m loving these Ron related posts. So good. Yep, appt. only… so not disturb occupant.
Ron, Anne Marie and I had a beautiful sunny lunch prepared by Anne Marie’s Beautiful hands with her great French hospitality. It was a week before his birthday and Annmarie’s two days apart in August. We caught up on our families, RJ and Rod and my experience and my Masters of Divinity courses for a chaplaincy so I might serve in a hospital as well as Chiropractic, my 30th year! Yahoo! Our conversation came around to discipleship and Ron shared his current discipleship group of Timothy’s as well how the climate has changed in order to be discipled and our culture. I asked Ron, “ What humbles you now? Ron answered very humbly, “ Tina, That is very good question I’m gonna have to think about that one! “ I also asked him “why is it That no one talks about discipleship now and things are spin off not even called Bibles studies, They have new names?” Ron answered, Tina and the culture is different and you would not believe how different it is discipling men, and their needs. He quickly left the table and came back with a mound of books, his books and his leadership guides on his books, Free at Last, Discipleship, the book of Ephesians, and a book by John Stott, “The Radicle Disciple, some neglected aspects of our calling. “ This book was John Stott’s Last book as he mentions he will not be writing anymore and he was in his 80s just like Ron. In the last few months I’ve picked each one of them up and started re-read Free at Last and Ron’s testimony which I knew but Also saw his testimony through his eyes. I also have picked up The Radical Disciple” a couple times and page through it but didn’t sit down to really read it till recently. On October 24 God woke me up at four in the morning to pray for Ron and Anne Marie, my mentor, for two hours and yesterday I sat down and picked up The Radical Disciple. Only this time I noticed a little tag in the last chapter which was chapter 8 on death. John Stott spoke about how one man who holds his life will lose it and the man who gives his life will save it. He talked about we are born into a life and a physical body and yet as we grow we are going towards death yet as Christians as our bodies are dying we are going towards life, the true spiritual life of Jesus our Lord and the resurrection into the life we were created for. This is the paradox of the Christians life in Christ. Stott says, Life through death is one of the profoundest paradoxes in both the Christian faith and the Christian life. Even while we are being afflicted physically and made aware of our mortality, we can draw on the spiritual vitality of Jesus. Death holds no horrors for Christians. The defeat of death is one thing; the gift of life is another 1 Corinthians 15; 26,35 and 2 Timothy 1: 10. Sometimes we have known what it is to “rejoice with joy and speakable and full of glory “ One Peter 1:8 we should expect it more often there where there will be the neither Sorrow nor tears. Every situation death is the way to life. So if we want to live we must die. And we will be willing to die only when we see the glories of a life to which death leads. This is the radical, paradoxical Christian perspective. Truly Christian people are accurately described as ,” Those who are alive from the dead.“ As Corrie Ten Bloom would say, “ The best is yet to come.” ! This is so Ron and his way of answering the question to disciple me to the end through John Stott ! Seats Sweet Ron, courageous Ron Doing it your way as usual, thank you brother for being my mentor and I always quote you and share that with you on that August day the thing I quote that you have said the most is Ron chimes, “ Hey, this is just the sandbox, we are in kindergarten a real responsibility that we’re growing into is on the other side-eternity. Do you realize we have responsibility over the angels! This is just the sandbox we are passing through but the question is do you have your passport to heaven-Jesus!
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! Thank you Ron for your love your confidence, your rebelliousness and especially your sweetness and deep deep love for the Lord and all of us. We all concur, and God welcomes you-Well done faithful servant of God! Footnote – you were the man Who exclaimed he learned something from me as we pastors and interns study Genesis 3, when you exclaimed, what I learned from Tina was that there were two trees in the garden I’ve never seen that before! Wow a man could learn something from a woman way back in the 70s! Thank you for increasing my identity in Christ too! I love you too eternity and back till I see you next time in Life in Jesus! Tina West