Living as a Leader

Remembering Mark Olson

Mark and I at a Winter Retreat leader's meeting

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my friend Mark Olson’s death. It seems just like yesterday that he was with us.

I knew Mark for twenty years first as a friend and then as a colleague at SpringHill. If you knew Mark you will agree with me that twenty years doesn’t seem near long enough time to have known him.

There’s almost never a day that I don’t think of Mark. Normally it’s because I’m wondering what he might have done in a particular situation I’m facing. So I’m thankful for our friendship and especially for the last 3 years of his life when I worked for and with him so closely at SpringHill. It’s because of those 3 years that I’m usually able to answer quite confidently the question “what would Mark have done?”

But beyond the tactical and technical things I learned about Christian camping from Mark the most important thing I’ve taken from his life was his constant desire to make everything and every person he had a relationship with better, meaning more effective in advancing Christ’s Kingdom in this world.

When Mark saw a need or an opportunity to have an impact he took it. It never seemed to be a duty to Mark. Instead Mark appeared to be compelled to do something as if God’s Spirit was moving him along. As a matter of fact Mark used the word “compelled” in his last banquet messages he gave in 1999 to describe his and SpringHill’s motivation to reach more kids for Christ.

This character quality is one I want in my life, one that ten years after my death I hope others will remember me for – that, like Mark, I did all I could to help other’s be more Christ like and more effective in advancing His Kingdom.

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