Make a Difference by Being Different

by kingteamdad

RAMBLINGS from Connor’s dad – Phil Downer was our Sunday School teacher when Kris and I were in the Singles department at First Baptist Atlanta. He was a successful attorney, practicing in a big firm downtown. They were living in the beautiful Candler Mansion. His Wife Susy, was a corporate attorney with Delta Airlines. At the time they had 3 kids, and enjoying great success in their professional life, while serving faithfully at First Baptist Atlanta.

He would come in and teach the Sundays that he was not away litigating a case. His transparency was refreshing as he taught us from his life experiences filtered through God’s word. But there were a fair number of Sundays he was away litigating. His schedule, like most attorneys, was demanding.

One day Phil announced to us that he was leaving law. We looked at him incredulously. Then the thought came to mind that he might be leaving to take a more promising job in commerce or finance. Their family was growing with 5 kids and another on the way. The financial demands must be growing, so that would make sense.

But what came next dumbfounded me. Phil was leaving his promising job as a partner of a successful Atlanta law firm, to go into the ministry full time. Say what?!? In fact, they had put their mansion up for sale and were looking for a smaller home in Chattanooga. I being a fairly new Christian at the time, questioned his sanity. Why would he consider such a thing? This came on the heels of Susy stepping down from her Delta position so she could focus full time on homeschooling their kids.

Their big drafty mansion with a highly sought after address, got replaced with a cozy little split level in Chattanooga. His new SUV, would age and see 300,ooo miles on it. His air travel in private or first class was replaced with long hours traveling all over the country as efficiently as possible.

Twenty years later I look back at their decision and realize they were looking at the BIG picture. They were willing to give up a very comfortable life for something they felt was more important. They were not only considering this present life, but more importantly the next.

Now when I see Phil he immediately jumps in to what God is doing. The lives that are being impacted and changed. The families and marriages being saved. The excitement he oozes is contagious. He is like a little kid beaming that he got picked to be on the team with his all time Hero as the star player. He never makes it through a meeting with me that he doesn’t start laughing with joy at how God is allowing him to be a part of His work.  

Phil and Susy were willing to step out and be different. They were willing to take the less comfortable route in life. I believe their willingness to serve has found them great favor with God. They are clearly making a difference in tens of thousands of lives.

They are making a difference because they were willing to be different….


But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:8 ESV)