This past weekend I had the privilege of doing a day-long seminar entitled “Mentoring God-Honoring Character in Kids” for parents at Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico, CA. I spoke from my experience as a dad and grandfather, and from my book, The Crest.
For those of you who don’t know, The Crest is a novel that explores the power of mentorship in the lives of four college-age guys.
These young men unexpectedly find themselves in a life-and-death conflict and encounter mentors who instill powerful character traits in each of them. Deep ethical, moral, and theological themes are woven through the story as each young man’s character is put to the test.
Most notably, The Crest illustrates how remarkable a life can be when it is marked by love, goodness, wisdom and freedom.
Ultimately, it’s character that makes our lives remarkable. Throughout my seminars this weekend, I challenged parents to be defined by, and live into love, goodness, wisdom, and freedom – and then mentor their kids to do the same.
Those four strong virtues have become the core of what I believe makes a life truly remarkable. In the near future, Jer and I are going to do a more in-depth blog series on these traits. As the result, I wont unpack them now…
But there’s more to my “Chico” story, and it’s humbling, sobering, inspiring, and important.
Prior to the conference, I was asked if I would be willing to have dinner with a couple named Bill and Christi Harrington. I was told that Bill and Christi’s son Scott, had read The Crest and been profoundly impacted.
I was also told that Scott succumbed to a fatal cancer only nine months ago. The conference director wanted this to be a surprise for the Harringtons. Naturally, I agreed.
Scott’s journey started in 8th grade.
He went to the hospital to have a cyst removed from his chest, but the simple procedure ended up taking 3 hours and revealing that Scott had a far more insidious problem, a very rare cancer known as synovial cell sarcoma.
This cancer is diagnosed in less than 100 patients annually throughout North America. Of those cases, only about 4 patients present with cancer in their chest and none have ever been diagnosed with cancer in the sternum where Scott’s originated.
For five years, Scott battled and beat this aggressive cancer. It finally claimed his life on January 15th, 2013. Scott was only 18 years old.
Scott’s fight is remarkable in itself, but what is most remarkable is how Scott lived. Scott determined to live his life fully, regardless of the disease – and he impacted countless people in the process.
“I was amazed at how much of an impact an 18-year-old could have on a community. Scott inspired, encouraged, and impacted children, his peers, and adults. It seems like everyone in Chico was somehow touched by his life.”
– Brian Solecki, Scott’s youth pastor
As I seek to illustrate in The Crest, the impact of Scott’s life blossomed out of his character.
- Scott wasn’t perfect, but he had a deeply compassionate heart. Scott was known for his desire to care for and serve anyone he could.
- Even while he was wrestling with his own illness, Scott jumped at the opportunity to do good by serving at Door of Faith Orphanage in Mexico. While in treatment, Scott reached out to junior high students as a leader in his church youth ministry.
- Scott’s virtuous life influenced not only children, but those in his high school and the rival high school in the community. Students from both schools recalled being impacted by Scott’s enthusiasm, encouragement, and words of wisdom.
- Though Scott was fighting for his life, it was also known that he lived free from the fear of death because of his faith in Jesus Christ.
This remarkable young man didn’t have the luxury of years to build an impressive resume; he never acquired degrees or the skills to build an empire; he never wrote a book or got the chance to dazzle people far and wide with his artistic talents.
But Scott did figure out how to live fully into the traits that God had instilled in him – and he lived a life of impact because he was loving, good, wise and free.
I autographed Christi’s copy of The Crest and she gave me a picture of Scott, which I now keep in my personal copy of the book. Bill and Christi told me that The Crest resonated with Scott. Upon reading the book, he determined to be a mentor to his younger brother.
What Scott didn’t realize is that he mentored so many with his life. Countless people were impacted by who Scott Harrington was – including me.
Scott’s example is a powerful reminder. Leading an impactful life is not about being special, famous, or wealthy. Neither is impact something that is suddenly discovered. Instead, it’s about learning to live intentionally – learning to be loving, good, wise, and free.
Editor’s Note: If you want to read more about Scott Harrington, click here. If you want to read more about what others are saying about The Crest, click here. You can also purchase the ebook for $4.99.