I met Jackie in January of 1997 on a plane headed to Vegas.
That is true but not nearly as sketchy as it sounds. Or was it? You know what they say…
Jackie and his wife Cedra moved to Arkansas around the same time that I did. We were both serving in college ministry about 45 minutes from each other.
When I think about Jackie, one word comes to mind, “brother”. I use that word because he really is like another brother to me. I have even joked more than once that I think we were separated at birth. I look up to him. I have an incredible amount of respect for him. He makes me a better person and I miss being near him. Our friendship is both easy and hard to describe at the same time. It is incredibly profound and serious in one moment but then in the next it is just plain silly. He is a good brother.
There is a lot I could say about Jackie’s spiritual influence in my life but I will boil it down to two things.
- He has taught me what it means to be a friend that you can trust with 100% of yourself.
I can tell Jackie anything. I can trust him with the worst part of me, the best part of me, and everything between. In my worst moments he will correct me but he never judges me. I can ask him anything and know that I will get an honest and thoughtful response. I have called Jackie on multiple ocassions and said something like, “I need to ask you a question that could sound stupid or even offensive.” He has seen and heard me when I am angry. He has been angry with me and sad with me. But it is not just the serious stuff I can trust him with. I can be as silly and stupid with Jackie as I can possibly be and not only know that I can trust him but that he will be right there with me. There is nothing about myself that I need to keep hidden from Jackie Flake. That is a rare gift that I do not take lightly.
Jackie has given me an example to aim at for what it means to be the kind of friend that I imagine Jesus would be.
- He has shown me what it means in real life to “Consider others more important than yourself.”
It is impossible for me to count the number of times I have heard Jackie say the phrase, “consider others more.” That comes from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3. I have heard plenty of people preach that message but very few actually live it out. Jackie lives it better than anyone I know. He loves his actual neighbors as though they are more important himself. It seems like everytime we talk, he is on his way to help somebody with something. He challenges me to think differently. He pushes me to look for a different perspective when it comes to people.
I know that If I called him right now and said, “Jackie my family really needs some help”, he would stop what he was doing and do everything he could to help.
I really do look up to my brother Jackie. I guess if I were summing up what it is to have Jackie as part of my spiritual heritage. It would be that when I am with him or just talk to him, I always feel like my soul is nourished. I am grateful and love Jackie Flake!