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December 18, 2009

Many have asked about my memories/reflections  about Dr. E.R. Jordan, a.k.a. Chief, a.k.a. my wife’s Grandfather, who passed away the end of November. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to learn some of the “boot camp” skills of ministry that I need for today from him, but more grateful to know him as the Grandfather of my wife. Sure, he was an amazing man of ministry, but without question, the man wrote the book on how to be a Grandfather.

I have a million of memories, but without question, these stand out to me:

Chief calling me in my dorm room, right after my wife and I began dating. The purpose of his call? To invite me to be a preacher boy. No big memory, right? Other than , he was the most intimidating man I had ever met up to that point. He was talking to me, on my phone…and I couldn’t hear him. There was something wrong with the phone, so it wasn’t half as loud as it should have been. The funniest part? I was the guy on campus who installed and maintained the phones….

Chief allowing me to bring my wife to a conference with the rest of the preacher boys. The trip was filled with events, not the least of which was a message by a legalistic Pastor that ripped all young men as being ill-prepared to do ministry unless we followed those legalistic ways, and Chief opening up to us in the van about how much he disagreed with the guy, even though they were friends. He pointed out that the most important thing is that we are followers of Christ. That was a huge comment coming from him. (The other memory was one of the guys had horrible intestinal problems in the van, and me trying to shield my poor young bride. Ok, not quite as meaningful in my current ministry…)

Chief’s contribution to our wedding was he videoing it for us. Unfortunately, the first 10 or so minutes of the video was filled with a birds eye view of him shuffling around church, because he forgot to turn off the camera. (Which is better than the next 2 minutes when he came into the mens changing room with it on.)

But the one that grasps my attention is from Christmas Day in 2007. Parkinsons had more than robbed Chief of all of his speaking, most of his movement, but none of his passion. God gave Chief a few minutes of total clarity of speech, and my wife and I the opportunity to be there for it. And you know what he said to me? “Taylor, love your wife more than the ministry.”

You ask for a story about Chief, and you will usually hear one about his screaming, yelling, and pounding, driving the preacher boys like first week marines at Paris Island. While I have my share of those, the ones that stand out the most, are the sincere, warm, Grandfather like moments.

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