In one of my favorite books, Chip Ingram uses the analogy of Mount Rushmore as a way to describe the people who influenced our spiritual formation. While we’ve all surely been influenced by a lot of different people, there are a few who stand tall above the rest. It’s a great exercise for determining who is important in our lives. Beyond that, this can point towards traits we’d like to cultivate in ourselves.

Take a few minutes and ask yourself, who are the top four or five most influential people in your spiritual journey?

Here are some of mine:

1) Family

Mom and Dad –  My parents took me to church from a very early age. They set an example of how to live out the Christian faith during both good times and tough times. I still think back to their example as I try to raise children of my own.

My Uncle Terry – Uncle Terry met Jesus in a powerful way and his life was completely transformed as a result. His whole family then came to faith in a dramatic book of Acts kind of way. I’m part of that story, too. I became a Christian while playing video games with one of his sons. True story!

2) Pastors

Steve Winter – I grew up in a Methodist church where they switched out pastors every few years, so I have cherished memories involving different pastors. I went through confirmation class under Steve, so he was a huge influence on my faith journey. He was also an amazing storyteller in the vein of Lewis Grizzard. To this day, I think back on some of his sermons and laugh.

Steve Rabun – Steve was my youth pastor when I was in high school. Between being hit by a truck and losing my father in the span of two years, high school was a rough time for me. Add to that the fact that I was quiet and shy. But Steve sought me out and made sure to include me in the youth group. I would not be here today without Steve.

3) My bandmates

Mac – Mac and I met in high school while both of us were going through that “what am I going to do with my life?” phase. We were a positive influence on each other, and ended up starting a band together. More importantly we have a deep friendship that continues to this day. The dude is the real deal – I still get inspired seeing him reading his Bible every day.

Tai – Tai has been sort of pegged as the “business guy” in the band. He is the guy who thinks about Third Day from the time he gets up to the time he goes to bed. He has a great marketing mind, and works harder than just about anybody I know. But don’t let that fool you – the dude has a big heart. Watching him raise his family the right way has made me want to do the same.

David – Speaking of big heart, David is probably the heart of the band, and it’s inspiring to know him. Countless times, I’ve seen him talk to people after a show who are going through a rough time, giving them a word of encouragement. He doesn’t sing his own praises much, but he’s also been a voice for the voiceless in issues like child slavery and global poverty.

4) Mentors

John Poitevent – John was our very first road pastor when we first began to travel in the mid-90’s. He helped set us on the right spiritual path. Most importantly, he taught us to value each other.

Randy Elrod – Randy was the leader of a mentoring group when I lived in Nashville. We now live in different states and I don’t see him much, but a lot of what you read here is based on things I learned over many a breakfast with Randy.

Nigel James – Nigel has been our tour pastor for 13 years now. He lives in Wales but makes the great sacrifice of coming out on tour with us for much of the year. Nigel has a huge heart for missions, particularly in India. Also, much of what Nigel has taught us has spilled over into what we do onstage and on our recordings. And he’s given me quite the musical education 🙂

5) Stephanie

One day while I was in college I stopped off at Mac’s house to drop off some Third Day cassettes. He had some friends over watching a movie, including a cute brunette named Stephanie. Little did I know, but she would soon become my wife. Stephanie has had the most impact on my faith of anyone. She sees potential in me that nobody else sees, and has helped bring that out over the years. I’ve mentioned a time or two that I am an introvert. Well, we are living proof that opposites attract! We compliment each other very well. She is an amazing wife and an amazing mother to our children. I definitely “married up” 🙂

Your turn! Who is your spiritual Mount Rushmore? Take some time and write down the people in your life who have influenced your faith the most. What is it about these people that impacted you? Try to live those traits out. You never know who else is going to put you in their spiritual Mount Rushmore.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Use the comments below to tell us about it!

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