So far to go?

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I was mentored for three decades by Campbell McAlpine, an amazing man who I met when I was 24 and he was 56. I looked up to him as a role model, and a second father in many ways.

The epitome of a wise man. Gracious, perceptive, gentle, strong.
The epitome of a wise man. Gracious, perceptive, gentle, strong.

He was the father my old Dad could never be – however hard he tried! Campbell was amazing.  He accepted me just as I was and was kind enough not to leave me there.  Campbell died in 2009, but his spirit lives on in my head and my life. He taught me so much, and you’ve benefitted from his wisdom … and yes, you’re about to benefit from it again!

Campbell loved words. He was a persuasive public speaker, had several books published, recorded sets of CDs and thousands of tapes. (Yes, cassettes. It was a while ago, remember!)  Here are some of his favourite sayings that have impressed themselves on me.  Choose one for yourself and let it sink in:

1. “The room for improvement is the biggest room in the world – and I’m in it.”

2. “Andrew, go for influence, not prominence.”

3. “Live like a leader.”

3. “Andrew, have you got five minutes?” Yes, Campbell?  “Clean the car!” (My car, not his! He was a stickler for valuing and looking after things you have.)

But the one that was a challenge for me was “The thing is, I’ve so far to go.” (said in a Scots accent:  “…faar ta goo.”)  What, Campbell?  The most saintly person I knew?  If he had so far to go, I thought, I haven’t started yet.  But I have grown to realise that ALL of us, however far we’ve come, have faar ta goo. I don’t take this on board as a challenge that taunts me with an ever receding horizon, but simply as a reminder that I’m not in a situation where I can brag about my ‘arrival’ in life. We are invited, not to reach some impossible ideal perfection, but simply to keep walking and to get up when we fall. I’m invited to remind myself and others that the next mile is worth it, has never been travelled before (by anyone) and has something to teach me, something for me to experience that will enrich my life if I let it, and will enrich others’ lives when I share it.

… as I just have. Now its your turn to share Campbell’s legacy, and my legacy, and now your legacy. What you are discovering, plant it into the life of another person, and make the world a better place.

8 thoughts on “So far to go?”

  1. What an exciting chain of thought … I was mentored by Andrew Sercombe and Campbell McAlpine and … back further than even I know. And I can honour those people, who took the time to invest in my life, by paying it forward. Changing lives, living change. Thanks A.

  2. Hi Andrew
    I remember Campbell well, both from the late 70s at Durrington Free Church and more recently when I was a member at New Life Church.
    A good and thought-provoking blog.

  3. Thanks, Lynette. The thing is we DO make an impression, every time, and we can decide how much and what. I was challenged by something that happened at a reunion last year (first reunion for this group for 40 yrs!) when the first three people I met – in the first 5 minutes – quoted WORD FOR WORD what I’d said to them the first time we met … 40 years ago! I was 19 then. It scared the pants off me as I thought of the hundreds of people who must have memories of Andrew Sercombe! Fortunately all three told me what I’d said and it seemed all good! Phew.

  4. Hi Andrew,

    Angie and I were knocked out by the photo of dear Campbell – and the reminder of the words he used to say – and to hear his Scottish lilt inside our heads.

    He used to stay in our home when he came to Norwich and you could set your alarm clock by him when he’d get up in the morning and pray through the news on the radio at 5.30/6.00 am. Then he would talk you through over breakfast, or at some other time, what he felt the Lord was saying having heard the news. What a man – a statesman!

    He and Shelagh certainly earned their reward and yet what an amazing servant – and always saw himself as that – nothing more and nothing less. We have all learned from him and received precious things from him – a baton handed on that can’t be extracted from your life without extracting something of what you’ve become!

    Thanks for that Andrew – Angie and I took some space out on receiving that to talk, reflect, be grateful and to say “Thanks” – to God and to Campbell (I know he can’t hear but it helps from our side to say Thank you Campbell).

    We both send you our love – be blessed!!!

  5. A touching and inspiring post that reminds me that however fleeting our contact, however superficial our interaction, there is an opportunity to improve the world for that person at that moment. You were blessed to have had such a strong, benign influence in your life for that length of time. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Yes, John. I’m on a mission to make the world a better place – and not just because I’ve been passively in it, but more proactively so, I guess. Campbell formed my thinking as much by what he didn’t say. In 35 years there were no more negative comments about others than you could count on your fingers. And he never criticised me! How I needed that acceptance and approval at the time, particularly through some of the tougher days.

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