After seven years of full-time music ministry at my previous Lutheran church in Southern California, I felt called to a Presbyterian Church and prayed for a pastor who I could respect and trust—an excellent preacher, but also a leader who loved people and built consensus; a boss, yes, but also a pastor, mentor and even friend from whom I could learn and grow with mutual admiration. I was blessed to find that in Dick Leon.
Here are 5 of the many lessons Dick taught me:
1. “Eat crow while it is fresh.” When you are wrong, own up to it and apologize. Learn from it and move on.
2. “The history of the world swings on small hinges.” Details, details, details. From names and people, to finances and numbers, to theology and sermons, Dick paid attention to details—myriads of details.
3. “Everyone has their cross to bear.” Sometimes when people present anger or frustration about an issue there is almost always something deeper going on in their lives. And, in love, he would pursue the hurting heart.
4. “The hard answer is usually the right answer.” Do the right thing, regardless of its difficulty, regardless of the cost, because nothing else will do. (And in the end the easy answer usually costs more and is much less satisfying.)
5. “Hupomone” is a Greek New Testament word translated as “patience” or “endurance,” but I recall Dick’s interpretation as “patient endurance”. No matter the short-term setbacks, or long- term frustrations, the longer we endure, the stronger we become. Regardless of the sins on the surface, and mistakes in daily living, God worked through the saints and patriarchs of our faith who had the “hupomone” to be steadfast in their faith and service. Integrity, patient endurance. That was my boss, pastor and friend, Dick Leon.