Well Done Good and Faithful Servant: My Friend Jim Spinks


jim-spinks-uniformOn September 13, 2008 a dear friend of mine, Jim Spinks, Sr., went to be with the Lord. I had the privilege of sharing some thoughts at his memorial, which you can download and listen to.

Thirty-eight years ago, in 1970, I was sixteen years old and had known Christ for only a year and a half. I was part of Powell Valley Covenant Church. And Jim Spinks, who I barely knew, asked me to do something I’d never done.

He asked me to preach God’s Word. And the unfortunate group that had to hear me were at a rescue mission in downtown Portland. The piano player was Cal Hess. Jim and Cal and I drove down together in the same car. I was nervous. Knowing I was preaching, I’m sure they were nervous.

Jim introduced me. He knew those men by name. He cared about them. And he cared about me enough to ask me to share God’s Word with them. This was before helping street people was cool. His love for those men was a model to me.

In the year before Good Shepherd Community Church began, I had the privilege of leading two Bible studies Jim was part of. One was in Philippians, at Carl and Hilma Ekstrom’s house.

jim-spinks-baptizingThe other was with a small group of men at Cliff and Jean Vorm’s home, where we studied A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy. Norm was there, and Jim Spinks and Marion Smith and others of the original leaders of Good Shepherd, which would begin six months later.

As a young pastor at Good Shepherd (I was 22 when the church began), I never felt Jim disregarded me because I was so young. Not that we always agreed.

When I preached a sermon about how my dad was a tavern owner and that I felt some taverns showed more love to people than some churches did, Jim took me aside and kindly explained why perhaps I could have said that differently. But I never felt he held it against me.

jim-spinks-teachingOver the years Jim often talked to me about people he was sharing Christ with: guys at the mission, guys in jail, his high school students, fellow teachers, neighbors, people he met.

He would tell me about them and ask advice about how to answer their questions and what book to give them. He was always writing down the names of books, and he would go buy them and give them to people. He was sharing Christ with a Jehovah’s Witness and in the early days of the Internet, I printed out dozens of pages, and he thought that was amazing.

When I think of Jim, one word that comes to mind is faithful. So when I was asked to choose a passage to read I chose Matthew 25:14-23, the Parable of the Talents:

jim-spinks-workJesus said, “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

"The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Right now, Jim Spinks is sharing his Master’s happiness. And he has left faithful footprints for us, big footprints, that are worth following.

The “well done” verses are identical, the same words said to the man with two talents, and the man with five talents. So we wouldn’t miss it. And so we’d know it’s not about degree of giftedness, but degree of faithfulness.

GSCC-pastors-elders-90sI believe Jim Spinks has been found faithful. Certainly, in countless elders meetings, he was a model of faithfulness to me. I remember a few times when Jim had the courage to disagree with all the rest of us. He came, his voice quaking, and read a passage and said “You know, I don’t think that decision we made was right.”

I told him how much I respected him for that. We would talk late into the night. We would open Scripture together.

I group Jim with Cal Hess and Garland Gabbert. What did these men share in common? Faithfulness. Endurance. Putting one foot in front of the other. A long obedience in the same direction. Finishing well. And love for people and love for God.

jim-spinks-teaching-prisonThere are a few portions of Scripture that make it clear that sometimes those in Heaven see what is happening here on earth. I don’t know if this is one of those times. But if it is, if God is letting Jim look through the portal now, I want to say thank you, Jim, for inviting me to go preach God’s Word to those homeless men at a Portland Rescue Mission. And for showing me how to love those men that night. And for a hundred other acts of faithfulness I saw you do in the next 38 years.

And thank you for taking me aside when you disagreed with me. Thank you for having the courage to correct us as elders, with the Word of God.

We live in a world very confused about heroes. There aren’t Jim Spinks posters hanging in people’s houses. There are no Jim Spinks sweatshirts or mouse pads or cereal boxes, or signature items on eBay.

jim-marguerite-spinksBut Jim is a man God would say of, “You’ve been faithful in a little, I will put you over much.” And if in God’s kingdom He would choose to put me in service under Jim Spinks, I would be honored.

Thank you, Lord, for Jim Spinks. Not a perfect man, but a faithful man. Thank you for his example in my life. Thank you for those late night conversations I had with him in parking lots, after meetings. Thank you for all those people he was always wanting to come to know you. Thank you for a long obedience in the same direction. Thank you for a faithful life to which we can say, with you, "Well done, good and faithful servant." We lift Jim’s family to you, and we pray for the comfort and joy of Jesus, in whose presence our dear brother now stands, having entered into his Master’s joy.

This video is a picture slideshow of Jim's life that was shown at the memorial. (Click here if you're unable to view the video.)

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries