I’m sitting by my fire pit in Black Forest, Colorado, thinking about Paul Stanley. Paul died last week on Thanksgiving Day. What a fitting day for his new life in heaven. Paul loved Jesus, his wife Phyllis, his family, and his country with all his heart. A West Point graduate who earned a Silver Star for valor, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart while serving in Vietnam, Paul couldn’t have picked a better day for his new life to begin.
My relationship with Paul spanned twenty-five years. We met when I was an upstart church-planting pastor, and it grew into a deep abiding relationship of mutual passion for leadership development. He just happened to be better at it than me. So, I had him disciple me and my leadership team at the church. We would show up at 5:30am at his house, and for months he poured into all of us. Those are sanctified memories of a man who touched our lives.
When I heard Paul had entered his new life, the first word that came to mind was “legacy.” If you look up the word, the definitions have to do with money, inheritance, and getting into prestigious Ivy League schools. That’s what the world thinks of the word. But the legacy I am thinking about is different. Character is the best word for the kind of legacy we all long for but rarely experience. Impact happens when one’s character influences your life. Paul’s legacy is his character.
The legacy of Paul Stanley is the character of Christ living through a man of one thing. I doubt he finished this life with great riches materially, but I know he finished with the impact of great wealth in changing the lives of others. Legacy is not what you leave behind for a person, but what you leave behind in a person. Paul died a wealthy man.
Paul was an army officer, professor, author, missionary with the Navigators, and elder statesman on Christian leadership. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. But Paul was infinitely a man of one thing. He wanted Jesus Christ to be honored and glorified by the life he lived and the people he influenced.
If you cut Paul Stanley, he bled leadership. His devotion to Christ was best expressed through building into his wife, family, and other men. He believed that every person could be a leader. But he didn’t just talk about it, he actually took time to work it into others.
Paul was always meeting with some men. I cannot remember him not having some kind of impact through a men’s group or one-on-one discipleship. Whether it was one of his grandchildren or a CEO, Paul always had time to talk, to share, to engage. He was constantly assessing men and taking them through leadership training that he had developed.
Paul’s legacy will be a man of one thing, who never wavered in his devotion to the King and His Kingdom. I will miss him. I am a better person, a better leader, and a better husband and father because of him.
Paul is now in heaven, looking around for someone to disciple. I would imagine he has already made some notes and developed another PowerPoint for building men in their heavenly home.
Honored to have known Paul Stanley,