Editor's note: This commentary was originally published April 23, 2012.
As you have no doubt heard by now, Chuck Colson has gone home to be with the Lord. I urge you to keep the Colson family in your prayers during this difficult time.
By the time you hear this there will have been no shortage of commentary – mostly appreciative about the life of this extraordinary man.
Actually, “appreciative” is a huge understatement of what Chuck has meant to me, both personally and professionally.
Like so many of you, I first encountered Chuck through books Born Again and Loving God. Classics, must reading. I’m not old enough to remember Chuck as a controversial political figure during Watergate, so I have always thought of him mainly as an inspiring Christian leader.
But little did I imagine while reading his books that I would one day work with him. Needless to say I was a little in awe of him. It probably didn’t help that, initially at least, he wasn’t exactly effusive with his praise of my work.
This is neither a complaint nor a criticism. Chuck Colson has always had a huge heart for the prisoner, for the needy, for the hurting. But he was also a man from a very different time: a Depression baby, a tough, driven, former Marine. He demanded and expected a lot from himself and he expected the same from the people who worked with him. By his own admission, he was “at the top of the type-A scale.”
But that’s not the end of the story: over the years I saw Chuck mellow. He acknowledged this change in the epilogue to his daughter Emily’s beautiful book, Dancing With Max. He wrote movingly about how his autistic grandson helped him become more patient and more understanding of others. In short, it changed him.
I personally benefited from that change. Over the past decade, Chuck went from being a demanding boss to being a mentor and a father figure, even a friend. He has been both supportive of my efforts and generous with his praise and his time.
His last public appearance was the quintessential example. I remember after I introduced him at the Spiral of Silence conferences, he praised my Bonhoeffer biography and said that he regarded my work as part of his legacy. Knowing Chuck and “top of the type-A scale” temperament made me treasure his praise all the more.
If you believe in coincidences, which I did not, I just happened into the hotel lobby as Chuck was being taken out to the ambulance, I had the privilege of walking over and putting my hand on the shoulder of my friend, I cracked a small joke, to which Chuck smiled and replied, “Tell everyone at the conference that I’m sorry for having spoiled their evening.” That is classic Chuck Colson.
Barely one week later, I was here on BreakPoint. If you had told me 15 years ago that I would go from writing BreakPoints to delivering them on the air, I would not have believed you. If you had told me that the demanding boss in whom I was in awe would come to regard me as part of his legacy, I might have called you “nuts.”
Obviously, God had other plans – plans that Chuck Colson helped nurture. I am grateful for what Chuck has done for me and honored to be part of that legacy. As I told you in my first broadcast, the voice may have changed but the message remains the same. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I praise God for you, Chuck. Thank you.
Publication date: April 23, 2012