Just a few miles to the west of the Focus campus stands one of the premier ministries in all of Christendom. There, in the shadow of the red rocks of the Garden of the Gods park is headquartered the Navigators, an international, interdenominational organization committed “to know Christ and Make Him Known.”
Jim Downing, a long-time member of the Navs and a personal friend of their founder, Dawson Trotman, continues to serve the ministry as a volunteer on the collegiate team. Jim turned 100 this past August and remains as sharp as a tack. A colleague of mine recently had the pleasure of sitting down with him over lunch and transcribed their conversation.
I found Jim’s thoughts and reflections fascinating, insightful and obviously, rooted in the scriptures. I’d like to share some of his wisdom in the space below.
Q: You’ve seen fads and trends come and go. What’s your advice for parents today?
A: Teach your children young. Instill in them a strong sense of value, vision and purpose. A person can only be motivated to act on that which is high on their value list.
Q: I was wondering if we could talk about spiritual gifts.
A: That’s a big topic, but I can tell you there are four steps to a fulfilled life: 1) Discover your gift 2) Dedicate your gift 3) Develop your gift and 4) Deploy your gift.
Q: So, how do you discover your gift?
A: Although we may think we know what our gifts are, the best way to identify our spiritual gifts is via feedback from other people. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of the answers. Find your platform to exercise your spiritual gift and you will live a happy, wonderful and satisfying life. I once told Dawson Trotman that he would have been successful at anything he did because he was enthusiastic, energetic and could connect and relate to anyone, at any time, on any level.
Q: Do you prefer being around young people or those your own age?
A: I enjoy being around enthusiastic people. One of the reasons people are cantankerous and bored with life is that they’re not stirring up their gift. Just study 1 Peter 4:10: “Each one of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in various forms.”
Q: What do you think of these current times?
A: I am careful not to criticize. One of the rules for revolution is to destroy the people’s faith in their leaders by holding them up in contempt and ridicule.
Q: You seem very structured and orderly.
A: Personally, I have always organized my day into three categories: 1) Projects 2) Routines 3) Unplanned. “The desired accomplished is sweet to the soul” (Proverbs 13:19).
Q: What’s your favorite part of the day?
A: My greatest delight these days is to interact with my kids on an adult level. I love to talk with my kids because I realize that a father’s approval is the most important thing to any child regardless of how young or old they are. I send all my kids an email every morning just to let them know I made it through the night.
Q: What do you think about dying?
A: I’m not worried about dying. In fact, I don’t give it much thought. The Lord is sovereign over all. Nobody dies without God’s permission.