Dr. James O. Davis’ Father Passed On To Eternity. Read His Amazing Story!
Dear Visionary Leader,
My beloved friend, Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer said, “A giant tree has fallen. Your Dad was a joy and blessing to all of us!”
On May 18, 2016, at 9:16 AM Eastern time, my incredible Dad and friend graduated for eternity. At this time I found myself in northern Germany, networking and synergizing with strategic leaders for the upcoming Wittenberg 2017 Congress to be held on October 30 – November 1, 2017. While I was riding in Pastor Tony Ibarra’s car, headed to Poland, I was speaking to surgeons on the phone in Melbourne, Florida. At that moment, my Dad was laying on their operating table in the Emergency Room, gasping for breath. I was provided with two options and was told neither would save his life. I told them to do the best option available to us. The Lead surgeon said he would do his very best and would call me back as soon as possible. Within 15 minutes, the surgeon called me again to let me know that his team had done all they could do and that my Dad had passed away. My response was, “I know you operate on a lot of people each year. However, I want you to know that a great man and leader came through your hands today. He was one of the greatest men to ever walked this earth!”
As you can imagine, this was a most shocking, traumatic experience. My Dad had a huge blood clot in his left lung. This debilitating blood clot was causing shortness of breath and eventually would impact his heart. I could not believe Dad was gone. For nearly 10 years, since he moved from Mobile, Alabama to Melbourne, Florida, he has faithfully served in whatever capacity to assist us in the Billion Soul Network. For example, he had driven me to the airport at least 450 times (90 miles roundtrip) in the last 8 years. This statistic might not sound like much; yet, it was more than 40,000 miles at all times of the day or night!
My earliest childhood memory of my father, was when I was approximately two years old, holding on to his pant leg on the subway in Brooklyn, New York. I don’t know where I was going, but I was on an adventure with my Dad! I remember looking up into his face and seeing him look down at me. I had no idea at that time, how great he truly was! I can still see his eyes looking down on me.
I suppose that every son or daughter who has a wonderful relationship with his/her Dad, believes his Dad is the greatest in the Universe. I can truly say, that my Dad stood the test of time, fought the good fight of faith and crossed the finish line victoriously. He has seen the face of God. As I have been going through his belongings, I have seen mountains of memories and valleys of victories.
There are so many memories that I could communicate to you. During his lifetime, he traveled to Europe, Central America, South America, Australia and Asia. I would like to take this opportunity, however, to relay personal growth lessons that my Dad taught me. Throughout the years, I watched my Dad expand and enlarge himself in order to make the shifts necessary for compounding spiritual growth in everyone he came in contact with, as well as, those he served with through the decades. Please find below seven shifts worth embracing for a successful, spiritual journey.
– The Seven Shifts Of Spiritual Success –
1. A Personal Shift that moves us from self to God. He new the difference between busyness and business and activity and accomplishment. Sooner or later, if we’ve ever going to become greater than ourselves, we have to make a personal shift, moving from selfishness to selflessness. My Dad’s business career moved him from Laurel, Mississippi (the place of his birth) to New York City. It was here that he became a Manager of a Kress Store on Fifth Avenue, New York City. When I was born in Brooklyn, he was taking the subway to work and back everyday. From 1961 to 1975, due to Dad’s career moves in the corporate world, he moved his family to Brooklyn, New York; Newark, New Jersey, Vineland, New Jersey, Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi; Morgan City, Louisiana, Hammond, Louisiana, Montgomery, Alabama and Mobile, Alabama.
2. A Priority Shift that moves us from in-reach to outreach. Dad got it! He knew that one will never take a U-haul truck containing life’s possessions to the cemetery. His great ambition in life was to see souls saved, churches planted and the Kingdom of God advanced throughout the earth. In 1966, Dad chose to leave the Kress Corporation to join T. G. & Y. At that time, T. G. & Y was a going and growing company nationwide. As a result of this career change, he moved his family from Vineland, New Jersey (we moved to this town from Newark, New Jersey.) to Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi. From 1966 to 1975, Dad continued to climb the company ladder and was eventually given one of the largest stores to manage in the T. G. & Y chain. Yet, there came a time, when he refused to climb the corporate ladder any further due to the time requirements that would need to be made and time he would no longer have for his wife and two sons. He determined that we was not going to miss out on the most important opportunities in life. In 1975, he left T. G. & Y to launch his own nursery business in Mobile, Alabama, for the dual purposes of serving his family and saving the world. Dad was determined to give more to missions and to equip his two sons for the work of God.
3. A Program Shift that moves us from events to relationships. I could share many life-changing and life-threatening events that took place in our family through the course of time. Yet, our family did not see the events only by themselves but as to relationships that will be formed and built up through the events. In 1979, Hurricane Frederick blasted his way through Mobile Bay and over the top of our home with a sustained wind of 155 mph. We nearly lost everything! For approximately one month we did not have running water or electricity. The day after Hurricane Fredrick blasted its way through our lives and destroying our business, Dad got his sons up early and marched us up to the nursery business. We could not drive from our home to the business due to the uprooted trees strewed across the road. As we walked to our nursery business, we could see the devastation left from Hurricane Fredrick. We had had a very successful plant nursery company. As we walked throughout the land of the nursery, all of the greenhouses had been destroyed. It was a most devastating time for us!
I will never forget what took place next. I heard Dad say, “Sons let’s start cleaning up this business today and save as many plants as possible.”
I said, “Why do we have to do it today? It seems like this is a waste of time. Nearly everything has been destroyed.”
My Dad responded, “Just because a storm comes, it doesn’t mean that God has changed His mind or His will for our family. We will begin rebuilding our business today to do the will of God.” It’s not about the events; it’s about the relationships that are formed and built up through the events!
4. A People Shift that moves us from adding to multiplying. If we’re going to have lasting impact, we have to be able to move from addition to multiplication and from production to reproduction. Dad always had time for his sons, his wife and people. I can tell you incident after incident when Dad found a down and outer and turn him/her into an up and outer. His compassion for people was exemplified in the small and big things he did for them. It is not about buildings and money; ultimately, it is about people! He understood how people thought and knew how to connect with them.
Even though he never had a course in marketing, he was one of the best marketeers I have ever seen. He knew how to create a dynamic idea, build magnetism around it and reach out to the marketplace. In 1974, Dad was the Manager of the Montgomery, Alabama Store (the second largest T. G. & Y. store in America). As a young man, I watched Dad coach his 50 plus employees, prepare the advertising both in paper and on television. Then, when it came time to launch the store opening, people began showing up at 6:00am for the store opening at 10:00am! The crowd was so large and intense, they pushed too hard against very tall, front glass walls, to the point the glass shattered everywhere as people made their way into the store. I watched the people as they were literally climbing over one another, racing to get into the store to grab their bargain before someone got it before them. There was a moment in time, while the people were stampeding into the store, there was a large icicle like piece of glass dangling at the top just above the people. Then, suddenly, this icicle piece of glass fell quickly into the crowd. Thankfully, people were not killed or impaled by the glass falling upon them. Yet, firetrucks and ambulances filled with firemen and medics were deployed to the scene. Can you just imagine this moment in time? If we are going to make a significant impact, we will have to know people.
5. A Provision Shift from consumers to contributors. It seems that most Christians in the West have developed a consumer mentality instead of a contributing mentality. They actually believe that the local church is there to serve them. I could not tell you how many times I have heard pastors say Dad was one of the most generous men they had ever met. I remember time after time, the pastor becoming the best friend of my Dad and my Dad adding value to the Man of God’s work regardless of the nature of the effort. For example, in 1985, when Knollwood Assembly of God was opening a new church facility in Mobile, Alabama, the plan was to have gorgeous number of palm trees along the front of the beautiful sanctuary. Dad drove his nursery truck to South Florida and secured scores of palm trees, brought them back on his truck and helped to install everyone of them free of charge! When pastors or leaders came by the nursery business, he always made sure that they left with a car full of plants and shrubs.
6. A Perspective Shift from a church mentality to a Kingdom mentality. When my brother and I were 15 years old, on one particular afternoon, we had been arguing and fussing with each other. I remember Dad walking into the family room and demanding that we sit down on the sofa. He looked at both of his sons and with tears he said, ” If you boys would ever quit fussing and fighting with each other, you have the potential of helping to change the world!
I never forgot that moment. He was inspiring us to be great men of God. In the day in which we live, it is no longer the West going to the Rest, but the Best around the world going to the Rest of the world. We will have to move from traditional missions to global missions in order to finish the Great Commission. My Dad understood this!
Whether it was in a prayer meeting or a Bible study in the local church where he attended, sooner or later he would bring up the Great Commission. He had taken ownership of the Great Commission for his personal life. I heard Dad articulate that he was doing all he could to add as many new chairs as possible to the table of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
7. A Process Shift from the older to the younger. Throughout the Global Church today, we are witnessing a huge generational shift taking place. The older generation is graduating for glory and the younger generation is stepping up for such a time as this. I live fifteen minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and 45 minutes from the Orlando International Airport. Some of my friends say, “James, you should move closer to the airport.” My response is, “I am only 15 minutes from the ocean. I did it on purpose.” I love taking a walk along the beach and listening to the waves in the water. And while I am walking, there are two waves that are constantly in motion and at times and at odds with one another. There is the new wave that is coming in and the old wave that is going out. At some point, these two waves will find themselves at odds with one another. However, 10 times out of 10 the new wave comes in and the old wave goes out. In other words, the new wave takes the place of the old wave.
Dad made sure to create opportunities for his sons to go further than he ever did. He did not hold us back or tell us we would never be successful or call us derogatory names. I hope and pray that I can help my daughters, Olivia and Priscilla to go further than I have ever gone and to create opportunities for their personal and spiritual growth so they also can be mightily used by the King of the Universe.
We are witnessing an older generation going to glory and the newer generation stepping into fresh and vibrant leadership roles. Sometimes, I hear Church leaders express concern about the generation that is coming behind them. Yet, I am quite confident that the generation that is going on ahead of us at one point were worried and concerned about us! The last time I checked, it is the Lord’s Church, not our church. Christ is building His Church and He knows exactly what He is doing in order to advance the Kingdom of God and fulfill the Great Commission in this century. While my Dad has now taken his rightful place in the grandstands of Glory, I have to strive to finish my God-given race and make it harder for someone to live on this planet and not hear the Gospel!
– Six Sustainable Steps In Life –
There are many time tested tips that come to mind in times like these. I have chosen this opportunity to share a small handful of lessons that I have learned through my Dad’s life.
1. Come Out Full – When it comes to marketing, the visionary leader must come out strong with his/her shelves full. Dad used to tell me, regardless of the Synergize Conference, the Global Church Learning Center and other ministry opportunities, make sure you come out strong in your appeal to your audience. You only have one shot at a first impression.
2. Commit To Focus – The focused person will go further in life than the person who does not know what he/she will do in the long run. When you decide to go after your God-sized goal, you cannot let others distract you.
3. Continue To Fulfillment – When it comes to fulfilling your vision, there is no one else who can do what you can do. Others will make the wrong assumption that they can do what you can do, but they have not been equipped to do it. If they try to do only what you can do, they will fail on the shores of time. Simply find God’s will, follow God’s will and finish God’s will.
4. Cultivate Friends – Showing up at the right place is half the victory. Dad made sure to show up and participate with the right people. Regardless of the distance, when you know who the right people are, make sure to build bridges to them. In the long run, you will never have too many friends!
5. Create Your Future – You will have to be willing to let go of smaller things in order to embrace bigger things in the future. When Dad came to half-time in his life in the 1970s, he let go of the land of the familiar in the corporate world, to posses the unconquered land of incredible opportunities.
6. Compassion First – Listen more than you speak. I heard it said a long time ago, if we choose to listen a lot more than we speak, people will mostly conclude that we are extremely intelligent. Dad was one of the greatest listeners I have ever known. People have told me how much they have appreciated that reality that “your Dad” was there for me, when I just needed someone to talk to.
My Dad, James William Davis, was born on July 29, 1930. His mother and father, James and Clyde Davis, had very meager beginnings, living in Laurel, Mississippi. Dad was born and raised in abject poverty. When the Gospel came to his community, his mother and father were gloriously saved and their lives were changed forever. His parents became church planters in the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee.) Dad knew what it was to travel from town to town during those church planting years.
When Dad was 21 years old, he chose to serve in the United States Marines. While in the Marines, he contracted hepatitis B, which almost took his life. Somehow, God raised him up from the bed and sustained his life. When he left the Marines, he married his young sweetheart, Juanita Gardner, who lived in an even smaller town than he did! Dad took care of his wife in her latter years, as she had a terminal illness that lasted for more than 10 years. He helped his lovely wife while sustaining the business until she graduated for eternity. Afterwards, he made sure he took care of his mother, who lived to be 103 years old! She died in March, 2016. His heart of compassion illustrated his love for his family and people throughout the decades. I never heard Dad argue with my mother and I have never heard him in a heated argument with anyone.
I hope you have been as privileged as me, to have an amazing Dad in your life. I realize that millions of young men and women do not have the kind of father, friend and mentor that I had in my life. My Dad and I spent a lot of time together, talking about life, family and ministry. My prayer today is that our Almighty Lord will raise up at least 100 million more Dads like the one I had! I am sure that the world would be a much greater place, if Dads would do their best to influence and impact their family like my Dad did me! Blessings.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James O. Davis
Cofounder / Billion Soul Network
Cochair / Global Networking