May 17, 2021

Pastoral Nuggets: Chance Encounters

I heard a story the other day about an entry level account manager who, years ago, took a job with a huge advertising and marketing firm.

As I said, this was an entry level job.

The advertising firm received a request from a small mom & pop store in Arkansas that was seeking to retain their advertising and marketing expertise.

Seeing as the account manager was the low man on the totem pole, coupled with the fact that there didn’t seem to be much potential for commissions, the account manager’s supervisor assigned him the trip to Arkansas.

He told how he flew into the airport at the nearest large city and then took a small commuter plane to a small rural airport. He stated that as he disembarked the plane onto the tarmac, an older gentleman wearing a flop hat and accompanied by his dog, was waiting on him. He thought to himself, “Oh Lord! What have I gotten into?”

There he was, a bright, young, vibrant account executive, who had just flown into the Podunk airport located in the middle “Hicksville” Nowhere, USA! And to top it all off, he was being greeted by an old man and his dog! However, unbeknownst to him, his life was about to be irreversibly altered. The older gentleman extended his hand toward him and said, “Hi! My name is Sam, Sam Walton.”

I recently read an article written by Dave Kerpen. In it, he told how that while on a flight to Boston, he had a rare moment when he disengaged from his electronic devices and began to look around. He noticed that he was seated next to an older gentleman. He couldn’t help but read the rather large print he had written on a notepad.

It contained phrases like, “My dear friend, the late Ted Kennedy …” and “When I wrote the new GI Bill …”

Intrigued, he engaged the gentleman in conversation and soon discovered he was seated beside Senator Frank Lautenberg. It turns out that he was on his way to give a speech at his grandson’s school.

And as their conversation continued, he discovered that Senator Lautenberg was a very successful businessman long before he became a senator.  He started the payroll processing company, ADP, which at that time, was a ten-billion-dollar Fortune Five Hundred Corporation.

The two talked for the duration of the forty-five-minute flight.  As they were preparing to disembark the plane, he said Senator Lautenberg told him he wanted to show him his greatest legacy.

Naturally, as the Senator reached into his pocket, he wondered what he would show him. It was a picture of his four children and seven grandchildren. He said, “Dave. This is my greatest legacy… ADP, and the US Senate won’t be on my tombstone. My kids’ names all will be.”

Dave summed up what he learned that day in three simple statements: 1: You can learn from anyone.  Start up a conversation whenever possible. 2: It’s never too early – or too late – to pursue a dream.  3: Our ultimate, most important legacy is our children.

Chance encounters – as I look back over my life, I see a myriad of people, places, and situations that could be described as chance encounters.

However, as I really ponder it, I have concluded that I don’t think there is any such thing as chance encounters. I choose, rather, to believe in divine appointments orchestrated by God.

From my salvation experience, to meeting my wife, to being the recipient of career advancement opportunities that defy logic, or being given opportunities to address dignities that I should never have been given … as random as these events may seem, I realize they were simply God’s hand at work orchestrating the events of my life.  Chance encounter? No! I don’t think so.

Whether it be an entry level account executive meeting Sam Walton, (Wal-Mart) a social media entrepreneur like Derek Kerpen meeting a US Senator and very successful businessman, or something that happened in my life or yours, I believe they are divine appointments!

But here’s the catch – don’t miss what God wants you to learn when He sends you “Chance Encounters!”

Brother Aaron

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