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  • Writer's pictureJamie Holden

January 23, 2022 Pastor Donald Nodler

When I was in elementary school, I had a little book where I could keep my report cards, attach pictures, list friends and write down what I wanted to be when I grew up. Until about third grade, I wrote that I wanted to be an astronaut, football player, or stewardess. Yes, a stewardess. Not sure why, but that’s what it says. Then, in fourth grade, it changed. Instead of a stewardess, football player, or astronaut, it changed to just ‘scientist.’ For a long time, I wondered what sparked that change.

A few years ago, while going through some old pictures, I found a Christmas picture of me holding up a chemistry set. Looking at the date, I realized that this was during my fourth-grade school year, and when combined with my career goals, it started to make sense.

Getting this chemistry set changed my whole outlook.

When I was in high school, I pretty much knew everything. Don’t all teens? I wasn’t necessarily cocky about it, but I thought I knew pretty much everything I needed to know to be successful in life. However, one area that I would admit that I was naïve was my faith.

The pastor of the church I grew up in was Reverend Donald Nolder or Pastor Don. I only went to church occasionally as a youth, and I didn’t pay much attention, so I never really understood a lot of what they sang or talked about. But, as I approached my senior year in high school, Pastor Don asked me to go through the confirmation process to join our church. He felt that I would set a good example for the others because most of them were 13-14, years old and I was 17. Pastor Don believed in me when I didn’t deserve his confidence. I didn’t do or say anything to lead him to think I would be a good example; he just believed.

I went through the confirmation process and joined the church. However, it didn’t really mean anything to me. To be completely honest, I only did it because Pastor Don asked me to. I respected him as the pastor, and I felt honored to be asked. I didn’t do it because I felt led. Pastor Don also asked if I needed help paying for college. I knew he didn’t have money to do much, but that didn’t matter. It was the fact that he even asked and would be willing to sacrifice for me that impacted me. That has always stuck with me, and I’ve never forgotten his example and willingness to sacrifice for me.

What I didn’t recognize at the time was that Pastor Don was acting as a mentor. It was never specified that he was mentoring me; he just lived it. In reality, I’m not sure he would even call it mentoring. It was just him being him. We need more of these types of people today. People who pour into young people’s lives because it is sorely lacking. Pastor Don was setting an example for me and may not have even realized it because he was just living his faith with purpose and integrity.

I was able to thank Pastor Don many years later, albeit through Facebook, because I wanted him to know his impact on my life and my journey into ministry. Just as that chemistry set sparked an interest in science that carried through to college (I was a chemistry major my first two years of college), you could say that Pastor Don did the same. Pastor Don was my living chemistry set, and his influence changed my entire outlook on what it meant to be a person of integrity and faith. He changed my understanding of what it meant to care for and serve others. Today, I am an ordained minister and serve the Lord in many ways.

What impact are you having on others? Trust me; even if you don’t think you are, you are impacting someone with your life. Is it good; is it bad? Is it intentional? I encourage you to be a chemistry set for someone. Help influence someone to change their outlook on life to one of compassion and of faith.

By: Duane Goodling, Mission Director- Think Missions,

Today’s Scripture: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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