A course change.In just a few days our oldest son, Brewer, turns 24. As I have previously journaled, grace should be given to the oldest child because they are training ground for parents and we ALL LEARN ON OUR FIRST. I find comfort in an ALL-KNOWING and ALL-LOVING GOD who helped cover our bruised knees and Brewer’s as we learned how to be parents with our first. He is a joy on all levels and he makes the whole family smile often.
I remember the phone call well. In the spring of his junior year at Clemson, in early April, Brewer was setting his schedule for his senior year. For many different reasons God had revealed to him the direction for his life, which excluded competitive golf and included a course change to a pursuit of a business career. Proverbs 6:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” He had probably made that decision a year earlier but was just now expressing it to me over the phone. We discussed his concern over not having any real work experience, even though during his senior year in high school he had worked at Chick-Fil-A. He was a business-marketing major and was looking to write a resume. He really didn’t have anything to write about for previous internships related to his major. He had dedicated hours of hard work in golf and school work but that was about it. We were always told by others, his dad, and other men in business, if you play golf and play in college, that is a great thing and will open many doors in business. Having never played golf myself, and Brewer being only a kid, we trusted that advice but didn’t really see how it would apply. God is good and the ADVICE was ACCURATE. Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will counsel you and watch over you.” Allow me to elaborate.
Brewer, Bill and I had spent the summer in prayer and discussion about a plan for Brewer to transition away from so much time on the golf course and focus more on his major and future plans. It was the fall of Brewer’s senior year. We were at a home game at Clemson. I was prompted by God in my inner spirit to ask Brewer to walk with me at half-time to meet some friends a few spots down from where our seats were. One friend in particular was Bruce Haynes. Bruce is someone I have admired as I have watched his career develop most of my adult life. He and his wife, Catherine, have been family friends for a long time. Bruce has a law degree and worked in Washington, eventually starting a political marketing firm in DC called, “Purple Strategies”. I have watched the process from afar and have admired how he has developed his passion and has had great success. He is from Florence, South Carolina. I wanted Brewer to meet him, hoping that Brewer would gain some wisdom and advice from someone who was the managing partner of a marketing company.
Bruce went OVER AND ABOVE in talking to Brewer, asking Brewer thought provoking questions and genuinely listening and caring about Brewer’s answers. After a lengthy conversation [especially for a football game half-time], Bruce offered for Brewer to contact him in May, closer to graduation. Not making any promises, but offering to have him up to Washington for a talk and possibly an interview, if there were any entry level openings. He noted that it was an election year and there possibly would be some positions.
I can remember talking with Brewer after our conversation with Bruce. I encouraged Brewer to act on what Bruce had offered, all the while telling Brewer that sometimes people don’t follow through or time changes things and not to take his offer to the bank mentally! But to do his part–keep his word on what he said he would do which was finish school strong, email Bruce, and stay in touch. Brewer was so encouraged by Bruce. Bruce probably, to this day, doesn’t know how God used him in a mighty way to shine light to Brewer. There was HOPE after golf and a “Course change!” In fact, when we were talking with Bruce, I pulled him to the side and expressed Brewer’s concern, and ours, over his lack of work experience. I will never forget Bruce’s comments to me and directly to Brewer. He said something like this, “If anyone plays a college sport, especially golf, that’s a commitment. I play for fun and know how hard it is and how much time it would take to be good enough to play in college. Also, coming from the political arena, I realize how much character it takes to sign your name to a score card and take public responsibility for your score, good or bad. That speaks volumes to me!” Brewer and I walked away so encouraged by Bruce and his words of affirmation for golf in Brewer’s life as it pertains to a “course change.” God is so faithful. When you are required to make a “course change,” no matter the reason, your choice or not, God is there and has direction for you if you seek it. I can honestly say, as Brewer’s career in golf unfolded at Clemson, I began to pray and ask God to meet him and guide him and care for him. I encouraged Brewer to do the same thing, to pray and seek God. God knew better than him or me as to what direction he needed to take. Philippians 2:13, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Brewer ended up flying to Washington right after graduation, going through a full day of rigorous interviews with multiple people. He flew home and just under a week later was called and offered an entry level position with “National Media,” a sister company to “Purple Strategies.” He accepted and started work 3 weeks later. Brewer will be the first to tell you his walk with Christ was up and down, hot and cold, while in college. But God, no matter where Brewer was in his walk with Christ in college, was STEADFAST. He took care of Brewer, even when Brewer moved away and came back. God was faithful and unchanging and NEVER MOVED! Faithful to Brewer and merciful to meet Brewer where he was and direct his life. So many lessons here. I will list a few:
1. If you are an adult, you can be significant in a kid’s life, like Bruce Haynes. LISTEN, ENCOURAGE, AND FOLLOW THROUGH ON YOUR WORD, if you make a commitment. Even though Bruce made no promise of a job, he was a man of his word to Brewer. He kept his word to have him in Washington and talk further. HE WAS A GREAT AND INTERESTED LISTENER. A man who influenced our oldest son by caring and being a man of his word!
2. Bruce found and pointed out value in Brewer and his choice of golf in college, even though we all saw the “course change” of stepping away from a childhood dream of professional golf and stepping into a total redirection. He SIGNIFICANTLY ENCOURAGED Brewer at a VERY CRITICAL TIME. God used Bruce in a mighty way! Multiple lessons here:
A: Brewer had to be willing to honor my request to go and meet Bruce. (It was a football game and my request required Brewer to leave his friends and go with his mom.)
B: We had all been in prayer about Brewer’s course change. Because of a stepped up prayer life, I was in tune with the voice of God in my life and recognized it prompting me and giving me the courage to ask Bruce to speak with Brewer.
C: Bruce’s heart was to care for people and make the time to be GENUINELY INTERESTED in someone else and GIVE HIS TIME AND WORDS. He was unselfish, other-oriented and a real ROLE MODEL! Something that Brewer and I will remember for a lifetime. Bruce was a POSITIVE FORK IN THE ROAD.
3. Finally, BE VERY AWARE. LIFE’S INTERRUPTIONS ARE OFTEN MINISTRY! YOUR INTERRUPTION COULD VERY WELL BE SIGNIFICANT IN THE LIFE OF SOMEONE ELSE. It was for OUR SON! WE are forever GRATEFUL that Bruce was that SIGNIFICANT SOMEONE and hope to always PAY IT FORWARD. View interruptions as opportunities to be used by God to be SIGNIFICANT to someone else.