Just so you know, this is going to be an impossible post. I’m writing about my friend John Akerman’s retirement, so it has to be understood there is no way to adequately cover what’s important. Instead I’m going to paint a few impressionistic strokes and share a few photos.
John has been active in Scouting for 55 years, all the way from Cub Scout to Eagle in Apopka, Florida, to professional staff to Scout Executive and everything in between. Here in North Carolina he has guided one of Scouting’s flagship programs, serving over 12,000 children and youth annually through the Occoneechee Council.
I have known John for just a few years, but I am not the least surprised at the heartfelt testimonials and accolades I heard from everyone who spoke. Evidently the Scout creed was literally based on who my friend is: loyal, trustworthy, friendly, courteous, helpful, kind, cheerful, reverent… etc. I think that’s pretty much it.
Oh, and humble too; humility may be one of the best words I know to describe John.
This country needs a few Scouts about now:
I’m writing about this today mostly because we live in a day and a time when this world could certainly use a few more Scouts – Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts too. There is a lot of overlap in these essential principles with the idea Paul writes about in Galatians 5, the telling evidence of the presence of God’s spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).
All around us we see those who like to point fingers at other people, and to tell them what they’re doing wrong; and then there are those – like my friend John – who simply model The Way. In the early days of the church, the disciples were first called Christians not because they told others they were awful people, or that they were going to burn in hell, but because – quite simply – people who met them were reminded of Jesus.
So my friend’s retirement doesn’t mean he’s going to stop being a Boy Scout, but that he is going to continue to live as a follower of The Way who reminds people not only of what it means to be trustworthy, loyal, kind, courteous etc,. but what it means to be serve Jesus.
They were just telling the truth:
Congratulations, John. I was deeply impressed by all the words – especially those shared by your son, Michael and your wife, Gayle. But I’m really not surprised at what they said, they were just telling the truth.
Rebekah, representing the faith community, got to have the last word. She shared some powerful thoughts, and she made us laugh. Then she closed with this well known benediction, a blessing it is always good to hear:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you
In the hollow of his hand
“Amen” – With admiration, Derek