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I would love to take a moment to talk about an attribute of Brother Jerry that had a great impact on my life.

The value he put on people.

The definition of “value” is:

  • the regard that something is held to deserve

  • the importance or usefulness of something

This is a fabulous way of describing how Brother Jerry acted when he was with someone. When he was with you, he was really with you.

He wasn’t on his phone. He wasn’t distracted or looking for someone more important to talk to. When you were with him, you were the only thing that had his attention.

He would listen—really listen—to what you were saying. I knew he was really listening because he would always remember everything we told him.

I remember the first time my daughter, Katelyn, introduced Brother Jerry to her boyfriend, Cam (who is now her husband!). Brother Jerry was excited to meet Cam, and during their conversation, Cam mentioned he was a New England Patriots supporter. Brother Jerry’s favourite team in the NFL was the Dallas Cowboys, so he wasn’t impressed Katelyn was dating “the enemy”. He teased Cam and told him he’d be praying for Cam to change his ways. This happened in 2016, yet Brother Jerry never forgot, and often mentioned Cam and the Patriots in his communications with us. Even during his visit in 2023, he stirred Cam about it.

Cam met Brother Jerry at a big partners’ breakfast. Brother Jerry probably met dozens of new people that morning, yet when Cam had spoken to him, Brother Jerry put his entire focus on Cam. He remembered this “fun fact” and it became a funny joke between them.

Another story which stands out to me is when we first met Miss Carolyn in 2010. She told me that Brother Jerry had shared with her all the details about our family, and she was very excited to finally meet us in person. She casually mentioned that Brother Jerry had told her all about my daughter, Brooke, and her rabbits. He knew one of her rabbits had died a few years earlier and he’d tried to reach out to Brooke during that time. Brooke had emailed Brother Jerry two years earlier when her beloved bunny had passed away unexpectedly, and not only had Brother Jerry replied and loved on her from Texas, he’d remembered two years later! Here was a man with a worldwide ministry, yet he put such value on a then ten-year-old and her pet rabbits.

He showed, practically, how you can value someone by valuing what they’re saying (even if it’s about the NFL team they support), and valuing what they value (even if it’s pet rabbits).

I witnessed how Brother Jerry gave each person his undivided attention during “meet and greets” after a service. There could be hundreds of people trying to get his attention, yet he purposely focused on the one person he was speaking to at that moment.

Unfortunately, I’d seen other ministers who did not show this value. When I was a teenager, my dad and I attended a big conference. Dad saw a minister he greatly admired, so we went over to speak to him. Whilst my dad was thanking this man for his ministry and influence, I realised this man wasn’t really listening. He constantly looked around the room and watched other people. Suddenly, someone entered the building that was far more ‘prominent’ than my dad, and the minister just left us… mid-sentence! I don’t joke or exaggerate. Here my dad was pouring out his gratitude to the minister, and this man held zero value in my dad. That moment stuck with me.

Since Brother Jerry’s passing, I’ve reflected on his example of showing value. It has really challenged me.

When I am with someone, am I 100% with them? Or am I distracted? On my phone? Looking around for a better opportunity or an escape? Am I truly taking in what they’re telling me? Will I remember the things they’ve said?

Today, God expanded the challenge by showing me that the value Brother Jerry showed people was simply an overflow of the value he showed God.

When Brother Jerry was in God’s presence, there were no distractions. Nothing was more important. When God spoke to Brother Jerry, he listened and remembered. When God valued something, Brother Jerry valued it too.

That is the challenge I would like to leave with you today: who and what do you value?

When you’re talking to someone, are you scanning the room for a better conversation?

When you’re reading your Bible, are you going to run to your phone the moment it beeps with a text?

Will people leave your presence feeling seen, heard, and important?

Will you value what God values?