The good that men do……
The impact the life of a man I barely knew has had on me
I went to a memorial service for Bishop Cecil O’Sullivan Ricketts who is well known in the greater Toronto Apostolic “family of churches” as one of its founding fathers. I, myself had never actually heard the man preach and honestly know very little about his ministry other than the tidbits I’d heard through family and friends. How he was instrumental in starting a major Bible College in the region. How many ministers, preachers, pastors and churches were planted under his leadership. How many people were impacted and encouraged by his preaching. In some respects, the church I attend might not be what it is if it weren’t for his influence. I imagine if I did some research to find out more I could literally write forever. Nonetheless here are a few things that were said about Bishop recently at his memorial service:
“He left an imprint on me when I was being ordained as a Pastor without saying a word……He just held my hand during the ceremony and it made me feel like it would all be well despite the uncertainties ahead”
“He was stable. Stood for truth like a rock”
“I remember my father taking me to church faithfully every Sunday to hear him preach”
“He knocked out everything called sin”
“I worked with him for 45 years…..He lived a full life leading by example. He was well respected and was always on time.”
“His teaching impacted my family…..helped hold up my faith….he had a great sense of humour…..”
“His preaching was simple and he didn’t take a lot of notes”
“He demanded that people approach the altar after preaching”
“Despite his seriousness, he had a great sense of humour”
“He was married for a very long time (72 years) and set an example of commitment in his marriage for all of us to follow”
“He is now at a place with God we are striving for”
“Lead by example the importance of praising God with all we’ve got”
“I felt the magnetic pull of his worship even in the midst of pressure. He gave me a sense of belonging as a younger pastor working with older men…..in one our meetings when it was my turn to speak he said “Let the young man talk!”
“The good that men do live after them and it is so with Bishop Ricketts”
The last quote reminded of another quote I once heard that is fitting:
“Life is nothing but a grace period for turning our genetic material into the next generation”
With that quote in mind, how will Bishop Ricketts be remembered? By simply looking at the ministers, pastors, bishops and churches that he built. His memory will live on in the tireless work that these people he mentored continue to do in their various churches. All that and many other factors will allow the memory of who he was and the impact he had to live on. What was amazing was I was able to gather this simply from stories that friends and family had shared with me and attending his memorial service.
As I thought about “the good that men do live after them” while I writing this post, to be honest I began sobbing uncontrollably to the point where I had to stop writing. At first I couldn’t figure out why. Then it began to make sense. I fear that many of us in this generation are not allowing the work that God did in Bishop Ricketts and others like him to “live after them”…..or in other words “live on in us”. This recently was exemplified in a tri-city conference my church had. While I celebrate the fact that many people were baptized and filled with Holy Ghost I saw young people in droves completely detached from service on their cell phones constantly. While it is easy to get angry at them for their disrespect, I have to wonder if a part of the problem is the lack of the example those of us who are a little bit older are leaving these younger people. I wonder what Bishop would have said if he saw what those young people were doing…..
We pick and choose how we want to be lead by God rather than leaving the plans we have for our own lives, allowing God to direct our paths as He originally intended. We (notice I say we) say we are behind our bishops, pastors and ministers 100% but then pick and choose what we want to abide by and discard other directives, rules and scripture by our own judgement in private or public in church and more recently on social media where our light should be shining more than ever. I worry that the next generation is not getting a good enough example of what a life being 100% lead by Christ ought to look like. As a result, I fear the younger generation will be swept up by the continual waves of technological advances while the godly morals that are supposed to govern them will be left behind resulting in them living by self-will only. That is the single largest reason why the Internet has become the cesspool of indecent and self-centred behaviour.
In spite of these “mountains” I believe just as God moved on Bishop Ricketts to build people and churches on the “solid rock”, we as believers today still have access to that same power. Perhaps just through writing this article and being overwhelmed with emotion in the process is part of the “good” Bishop did being passed on to me even though I never met the man. That alone gives me tremendous hope that we still can have just as much influence in our world as Bishop did. Perhaps even more as long we are lead by Christ.
That leads me to my final thought and question. When this “grace period” is up for you, what “good” do you want to live after you? What do you intend to pass on to the next generation? It’s a question I do not think is considered often enough. Most of us spend our days trying to increase our own wealth and comfort. While those things are nice as the scripture says they will all eventually pass away. I believe we ought to be thinking about more tangible ways to leave a legacy behind in this broken world. More than anything, Bishop Ricketts’ life is an example of what God can do with one man who chooses to follow Him wholeheartedly. Even in death “the light”, that shining example of what a Christian should be still shines in the lives of those who knew him. It’s an example we should all strive for.
What do you remember most about Bishop Ricketts and what good do you want to leave after your “grace period” is over. Sound off in the comments or any other social network where this is posted. Any other comments and points of view are welcome!
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