My Person of the Year

Time Magazine's PERSON OF THE YEAR is "The Protester."  I guess I can understand why "The Protester" was chosen and not Steve Jobs...although I have more of an affinity towards Steve Jobs.  I assume that their "person of the year" is the person who has the most influence on the year, was most newsworthy, and will have the most lasting influence.  And, while Steve Jobs did some great stuff in 2011 and his passing was definitely newsworthy, one can argue that much of his work and influence covers the last decade, not so much the year.  The protesters, in contrast, were quite a phenomenon for 2011.  It is clear that their influence on "The Arab Spring" will be felt for years to come as the dust settles throughout the Middle East.  On the home front, it has been the Occupy Wall Street protestors, from coast to coast, trying to confront the social and economic inequity that affects our nation greatly. 

So, yes, "The Protester" makes sense.  Impact on the calendar year.  Lasting impact around the globe.  Newsworthiness.  How they will impact history.

That, and we'll put Steve Jobs in second place.

Well, what about my PERSON OF THE YEAR.  I decided I'd go with some of the same qualities that I think Time Magazine uses.  This person would be newsworthy to me...the focus of much of my time and attention.  This person would need to have made an impact on the year...there were changes or movements that this person was intimately connected with.  This person would be someone whose actions or choices would have a lasting impact on myself, my family, or my job.

This narrows things down dramatically and there are some runners up who didn't come out on top:

Gail Grossman (my mentor) -- Gail is a layperson I met with 10 times over the course of the first half of the year.  All of our meetings were by phone.  While her help was enlisted to address some of the financial difficulties at Girdwood Chapel, what she ended up doing with me is helping us figure out a long-term ministry plan and get the ball rolling.  It's because of her that our small group ministry is taking root.  She was also influential in the start of our "Friday Night Live" youth nights and our Tween Group.  I can't thank her enough.

Mark Scandrette (author/Christ-follower) -- I read his book this year...and it changed the way I think about discipleship.  It's not that any of what he said, as far as the individual pieces are concerned, was new to me.  However, the way he put it all together was exceptionally helpful.  I just want to jump in and put it all into practice and once and need to take a breath as I realize that it's a marathon and not a sprint.  I think this book is something I'm going to have to take out again and again and again.

Jon Stewart (TV Personality) -- OK, so Jon was probably not really in the running for PERSON OF THE YEAR for me.  But I want to take a moment and recognize that, The Daily Show is one show that I catch 3-4 times a week...and it's only on 4 times a week. This year, perhaps more than any other, I have gotten totally frustrated with the world of politics. I know many accuse Jon of firing his shots from the left, but I seriously believe he's frustrated any time politics is put ahead of people and he tries to shine a light on it.  He recognizes the lies that this world tells us through the media.  Some of it is painful to watch.  Much of it is uproariously funny.  But his show has made me want to live into the notion that all politics is local.  It's about people.  It's about the people I know and meet and eat with and love.  This year, more than any other, I've been shaped by this.

Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple) -- I am an Apple fan boy.  I type this on a MacBook Pro.  This year I got an iPad and and iPhone.  Much of my time is spent on a device that this guy thought up and brought to production.  He has had a lasting effect on how I communicate and the ways in which I use technology for my job...for pastoring people.  This year I mourned his death.

But with those three finalists out of the way, it's time to introduce my PERSON OF THE YEAR.

Drumroll, please.........


Here's how it is. 

This year we celebrated our 20th anniversary.  She's been instrumental in what I do and think and who I've come to be over those 20 years.  Moreover, this year was a big year for her.  Not only did she complete her hours of education for her teaching certificate but she performed her student teaching and jumped through hoop after hoop of administrative requirements.  This was a Fall fraught with turmoil and conflict as we navigated the rough waters of her job...much of it related to a killer schedule.   Together we struggled and made decisions about what was best for us as a family. 

Over the last four months in particular, Julie has been "newsworthy."  Her work and her education, the struggles and the great joys, were what we spent time talking about.  She got up early to get to work.  She worked after everyone else had gone to bed.  She was a focus of our family and the rest of us rallied to enable her to complete the job before her.

All the while she managed to mother our five kids and be a wife to me and be an active member of our church community and the Girdwood Community as a whole.  This was no small task.

And it will have a lasting effect on all of us.  She exhibited both strength and humility...a fine example for me and our kids.  Her choices in her job will have a positive effect on our economic situation...especially important as I move from full time to 3/4 time employment in the church.  Almost always, she was an example of grace under pressure...and Lord knows we had enough pressure.

I thank God for her.

So, with that in mind, I declare that JULIE DOEPKEN IS THE PERSON OF THE least "my" year.

(And she should be pleased as can be that she, too, beat out Steve Jobs.)