tribute to a mentorMost leaders can easily point to at least a few influential individuals who helped shape their style and decision-making. Ed Fry, FaithSearch Partners’ President/CEO, recently reflected on one of his early career mentors.

“I have been blessed to have many mentors….and tormentors….in my professional life.  I’d like to spend a couple of minutes honoring one of them:  Jack Coale.

“I met Jack when he hired me in 1986 to manage public relations at the JCAHO (now The Joint Commission), the nation’s leading healthcare accreditation organization. He was a renaissance man with many interests and talents, including that of being a Lutheran minister. As I was living in Chicago with a young wife, a thousand miles away from parents and family, Jack quickly turned into a surrogate father. We spent many hours strategizing on corporate tactics, office politics, religion, and life. He would encourage me often…and chastise me when it was deserved.

“After a couple of years, I took a promotion and moved back “home” to Texas, but we stayed in touch. He left the JCAHO shortly after I did and went into a number of ventures. I launched FaithSearch Partners in 2007, and we grew relatively quickly. I needed part-time assistance, which required savvy consulting expertise, and Jack fit the bill perfectly which allowed us to work together again on several projects.

“18 months later, I received a call from a phone number I didn’t recognize. It was Jack’s son, whom I had never met. He called to tell me his father, who was in between assignments, had been in a serious car accident and suffered a significant head injury, among other things. He informed me that Jack’s recovery could take months and he may never fully recover.

“I received occasional reports on Jack’s progress, which was minimal. He was unable to walk, care for himself, and could only mumble unintelligibly.

“About three months into his recovery, I flew to Birmingham to visit him in the rehabilitation wing of UAB Medical Center. When I turned the corner to enter his room, I quickly saw his angel-of-a-wife feeding him in his wheelchair beside the bed. She looked at me and told Jack he had a visitor.

“As she turned his wheelchair in my direction, Jack looked straight at me. His face burst into a big smile, and he clearly and articulately spoke in a loud voice, “There’s Ed Fry!”

“His wife was shocked, revealing he had not been able to speak in such a fashion since the accident. We visited for about an hour before I had to leave, but his vocal distinctness never matched the incredible greeting he provided when I arrived in his room.

“As I reflect on this event from many years ago, I know I have no secret powers to inspire mini-miracles.  And I realize human neurology can behave in mysterious ways.

“Jack passed away a couple of years later due to complications from his head injury. I miss him.

“He was a wonderful influence on my life, both personally and professionally. I’ve tried to mentor the next generation of leaders but doubt I have been as effective as Jack was for me.

“However, his three words of recognition, spoken during a temporary burst of neurological-larynx pathway free flow, are the same words I think most of us strive to hear from our loved ones, friends, and colleagues as we near the end of our season of influence.

“There’s John Smith!” “There’s Mary Jones!” 

“Spoken with enthusiasm and respect.”

We can all take comfort in knowing that by unmerited grace, Christ our Savior will one day – with a booming, spirited, warm, and holy voice — recognize us in a similar fashion:  “There’s Ed Fry! I rejoice in welcoming you to eternal salvation.”  We invite you to join us in preparing for that day when we pray we will hear all of our names so richly called forth.

FaithSearch Partners celebrates the leaders who go out of their way to mentor the next generation of leaders. Those whose actions mold the futures of those around them – whether they realize it or not. We focus on securing the right leaders for Christian organizations and on setting an example for others in business. If you’re looking for leadership that serves your organization and mentors the next generation, FaithSearch Partners is an elite executive search firm that specializes in finding and securing those leaders.

We have a proven track record of securing leaders for nonprofit, academic, and athletic organizations. Contact the FaithSearch team today for more information.

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