Someone who made a dramatic impact on my life passed away recently, though I’m sure he didn’t know how important he was to me, how much he’s responsible for the person I’ve become. I hope I get a chance to tell him in heaven one day.
This special man was a businessowner, hardworking, dedicated, and successful. Close to twenty-five years ago, he took a chance on hiring a teenager whom he didn’t know, to work in his office, and that opportunity helped set me on the career path I’ve followed ever since. That “afterschool job” became the foundation for the work that pays bills and helps support my family, even as I pursue my passion for writing and ministry.
I worked several jobs as a teenager, sometimes more than one at a time, while also dual-enrolled in high school and community college. I think I was seventeen when I stopped in at a jewelry store in my hometown to ask if they were hiring. The answer was no, but the nice lady behind the counter told me the insurance agency where her daughter worked might need some help. An insurance agency? What could I do at an insurance agency? But this was in the days of paper files, and there were tons of documents to be alphabetized by client name and stored in metal cabinets.
I don’t remember the interview process or how much money he offered, but I remember that David Sloan took a chance on me. Right off the bat, his hiring me taught that courage pays off, that it’s worth it to try.
Eventually, my responsibilities in the afternoon expanded to answering the telephone if everyone else in the office was busy. I couldn’t do much more than place callers on hold, due to industry restrictions. To answer policy questions, I’d have to be a licensed agent. So, David made the decision to send me to classes in the evening and then pay for the test I’d have to pass to be licensed. His investment in me gave me confidence that I can do hard things.
I was eighteen years old when I became a North Carolina Property and Casualty Insurance Agent. I was so proud of that little card. It felt like I’d accomplished something big. Because of David, I learned that accomplishing big things feels good.
David was a good boss. He was stern when he should have been—helping to shape my work ethic and sense of professionalism—but lenient when I needed grace. Though I couldn’t see all these things then, that first office job, and the commitment it required, helped me grow as a person.
But it wasn’t just about the work. David treated me with respect. Along with the two other employees there, he cared about what went on in my life outside of work. At Christmas, when he and his wife hosted a party at their home, they invited me, the teenage part-timer. He taught me the value of being part of a team.
I worked parttime at the office for around two years, I think, before I moved on to a full-time job at a bigger agency in another town, with David’s full support. Within a year at that job, I was promoted and transferred to another city, where I would eventually meet my husband. I floundered somewhat in the job world during my early twenties, still maturing, and finding my footing as an adult. But my background in insurance eventually led to employment with a company where I discovered new skills as a Business Analyst. Moving to an Information Technology position opened doors I never imagined, and even now, in my current work for a software development company, I can trace every career advancement back to my start as a filing clerk at that little office in my hometown.
So, where would I be had it not been for David Sloan? Would I have met my husband? Would I have a good job now? Would I have the ambition to pursue a writing career and an Information Technology career while raising four kids? Maybe. You see, I know it really wasn’t David, but God, Who shaped my life. God had a plan for me long before I knew it, but David is the person God used, along with many, many others—my parents, church, friends, other generous employers (two, in particular, that had a similar impact as Mr. Sloan)—to put me on this path. I’m so glad David is part of my story; I’m so thankful for his kindness; and, in his memory, I’m inspired to make a difference in another's life, should God give me the opportunity.
Who knows the impact one person can have on another? Positive. Negative. Lifechanging. It may be impossible to tell, but the effect of our decisions can extend beyond ourselves and shape the lives of others for years to come. May we all attempt to live graciously, to offer help and opportunities to those who need them. May we strive to see value in others, to take a chance on investing in someone else's life. May we all have a heart like David.
My sincere condolences to the family and close friends of David Sloan, who passed away March 13, 2022.
Click here to read more about his life and legacy.
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