Lessons in loss: the legacy of Creig J. Soeder

Dealing with loss is never easy.

It’s one thing if it’s the temporary loss of your keys, or even your mind every now and then. But it’s entirely something different when it’s the permanent loss of a person. More specifically, a special person of influence in your life. And more importantly, a special person of influence in the lives of tens of thousands.

That’s what Creig J. Soeder was. He was one of the “good guys” who loved life and lived love. His life was a culmination of not  what he did for himself, but for what he did for others. He lived a life defined by his faith through his words, actions, and love. He was a leader, mentor, father-figure, teacher, counselor, listener, and coach. He was a great salesman and an even greater master of relationships. He was genuine. He was the real deal.

Creig Soeder datesDuring a prayer vigil held in his memory, two things said about Creig clicked with me. To be honest, these two things have further encouraged me to live each day with a resolve to be the best person I can be through Christ. After all, one man’s mission in life is another man’s inspiration.

The first thing that resonated with me:

“His finest hour was his last hour.”

It struck me that these seven words are what every Christian should strive to have said in earnest about them upon their passing. And in Creig’s case, no words could be further from the truth. His impact on others was the resulting person they became after every interaction with him. He was a facilitator of foundations. With each passing hour of his life, he helped countless young people walk a path of purpose. His finest hours up until his last hours were spent building character in people. It’s what he did. It’s what we should all be doing.

The second thing that hooked me was this:

“When I see Christ, I don’t see Creig. When I see Creig, I see Christ.”

This is something I’ve heard before in a different situation, but nevertheless it’s a perfect way to view Christ through Creig. Christ is flawless, a lamb without blemish. While Creig was not Christ, he was doing his best to be Christ-like – he embodied Jesus through his efforts to connect with others. I’ll always remember how his outreach was farther than his reach.

As I grow wiser with age and time continues to collapse around me, I know I am blessed to have people in my life like Creig. I want to have each hour that passes be my finest hour. I want people to see Christ through me despite my many flaws. To do this takes effort. To exert effort, there often must be a channel of inspiration. One of my many inspirations are the people in my life who inspire me to greatness. The ones who inspire me to action. The ones of whom I see Christ in.

Seek out those people in your life. Don’t put off today for tomorrow when that tomorrow is all too unpredictable. Loss can be dealt with over time, however regret and time go hand-in-hand. Make the most of those around you and invest in those who need you. Creig did. There are lessons in loss and then there are legacies that are lost. Creig schooled us on life lessons and left us with a legacy.

*Creig influenced and impacted by my estimations over 70,000 college students and young adults over his more than 40 years at Southwestern Advantage. He was involved in his Church, Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN where he taught children, drove buses for homeless men, mentored in a men’s group, and lead by example by his many acts of service. He was a devoted husband and father. He made friends everywhere he went. He made a difference everywhere he went. Creig, may you be riding your motorcycle on heaven’s streets of gold!

Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

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