I was on one of my prayer walks the other day when I started thinking of all the people that have influenced my life for the good; the people that have given me words of wisdom, and taught me the art of forgiveness, how to be a friend, how to manage people or a ministry/business, how to treat women, how to be a son, a father, a husband, etc.

It wasn’t always what I wanted to hear, and many times it was hard advice to follow. And, like all of us, I have been given a lot of bad advice. But I have found the bad advice has taught me as much or more than the good!

Everything belongs.

As I walked, I felt myself becoming very emotional over the people that have influenced my life over the years. I could write pages about each of them.

Dwayne Black:
My dad simply taught me how to work hard, always be faithful, how to read scripture and do my devotions; early in the morning!

Judy Black:
My mom was gentleness; she taught me how to always find the good and that life was about loving Jesus and loving others, period.

Lisa Marie Black:
My wife taught me that women are good, and that marriage is sacred. That at the end of the day, no matter how good or bad life is going, you have one another, and that’s more than enough.

Seth Barnes:
Seth gave me the gift of forgiveness; no matter how you are treated or how people fail you, you just keep loving them and you always give people another chance at redemption. And, you always own your stuff.

Andrew Shearman:
Andrew taught me the “Lover” side of a man. How to dance with your bride, enjoy breaking bread with your friends, and always find the “Tree of Life.” For you and everyone around you.

Lonny Dyer:
Lonny showed me what a true “Armor Bearer” looks like; that a friend will always be there and will always take care of your family, even when it doesn’t make sense.

Tom Davis:
Tom has taught me that good friends, friends you are called to, are worth fighting for. When it really matters, no matter how hard it is, you are always there.

Justin Burns:
Over almost 20 years of knowing one another and being a “Spiritual Son” to me, Justin taught me how to love people and stop trying to fix them. Being a friend that always shows up is more important than what you know, or what you think you know.

My Children:
Tyler taught me fatherhood can and will save your life. Alexis taught me unconditional love. Emily taught me your kids do not have to be like you, at all, and they are still all yours. Michael taught me life and family are a gift and to never, ever take that for granted. Caleb taught me you can be really good friends with your kids. And Noah taught me that your kids can really get the best of who you are and make it better.

There are so many more I could list and write about, so many others that have given me gifts and pearls that have directed my life.

And, like I said, even those that have falsely accused me, tried to hurt me, stolen from me, used me and even tried to take my life all influenced and taught me so much that I can say I am very thankful for each one of them.

As I ended my prayer walk, and through a few tears, I thanked my very best friend, Jesus, for giving me all the others… He really is all I need, but I sure like going through life with the ones he called me to!