Interview with Big Dog
If you're friends with Big Dog or follow him on Facebook, you know that he's always up for a chat - an a lively one at that. I recently sat down with him to hear what he's been up to so that I could give you all a window into his recent experiences. Big Dog keeps us on our toes at SOS and always provides thoughtful discussion. I am grateful I get to work beside this man. -Jonathan What’s something fun that’s happened to you recently, Big Dog?
My daughter came to visit me and I had my first Thanksgiving ever with her. It was my first time ever with both daughters and my wife, Jackie, together. Just did things a father does with his daughter. There's no closer fun to that which I can think of.
What’s something God has been teaching you lately?
I’m incapable of influencing people and making them change and make the right decisions. All my carefully calculated schemes to get guys to make wise choices are dysfunctional. I’m incapable of making a man change. Only God can. But even though I say that I struggle to live that out. The guys don’t see that their failure to be active fathers is working to the detriment of their sons who are going wayward. So, I’m seeing my powerlessness.
So, what is powerful? What is able to bring change?
The gospel is the power for salvation. It’s the power to heal. The power for everything. If Christ is not part of the equation for these guys, it’s just a façade. They aren’t really going to change. I once cut a tree down and it was hollow on the inside. Had a big hole in the center where termites were living. That’s the way a lot of us look. Good on the outside, but hollow on the inside. If Christ isn’t at work in us, we will rot and fail. A healthy tree doesn’t need Terminix.
What do we do when people aren’t responding or changing? Or if we aren’t seeing the change in our own life?
We can’t go invent a new gospel. We forgive 70 times 7. So, I need not get frustrated when these guys continue to fail. I must continue to apply the gospel in my life and in theirs. Too often we look for something new. We don’t know when God may suddenly bring change. Kind of like with guys like me.
You recently celebrated 10 years with SOS. As you look back, what’s different about you and about SOS?
For me – the egotistical mindset that I can change people has been humbled. I better see my role in others' life as a tool in God’s hands. I was a more vulgar and rough 10 years ago. But my tone of voice, my choice of words, my stories have been tamed by God. I’m way more appreciative of sobriety and life than I have ever been. Due to my wife’s cancer and my daughter’s appearance into my life, I’ve learned to appreciate life and the absence of the detrimental things from my past.
What’s different about your role now at SOS?
My knees are worse. I’m physically less capable of climbing with heavy loads which I used to so eagerly approach. I’m given new opportunities to serve in ways which don’t strain my knees, such as teaching and homeowner relations. More often now, my co-workers are using me as a database of history to learn from my experience.
Do you have any favorite memories that stand out?
Hundreds! Once I picked up a prostitute to take to visit with an SOS work team and I ended up confronting her pimp. He asked to come with us and I took them to lunch and brought them both to the SOS team. The time with the team ended with him crying, turning the woman over to me and we got her into rehab and sober. That was a super, super fun memory. That was five years ago. She now has a job working at a non-profit, she’s sober, she’s speaking to others about her past. It’s such a good example of what I was saying earlier. I couldn’t change her. God added his power and made her receptive to us. We can’t prep her heart. My responsibility is to share the gospel.
If you’re coming to work with SOS, don’t close your eyes to those who might be outside of the roofing we’re doing. We must keep our eyes open to the human beings around us, to anyone who might be in need of the Gospel. We have to keep our mind open to all. We can’t box ourselves in to “THESE are the people I work with” – God might have someone different in mind!