Several years ago I spoke at a banquet honoring Clyde and Ruth Narramore, pioneers in the development of Christian counseling as it developed following World War II. Now in his nineties, Clyde’s work was shaped by early American fundamentalism and the post-war culture where he worked. Beginning as a licensed psychologist working in secular schools, he emerged as a speaker and entrepreneur who brought popular psychology to evangelical churches and radio listeners. As described in Clyde’s recent autobiography, Every Person is Worth Understanding, he and his wife had the first Christian radio program dealing with psychological issues and the first Christian psychology magazine. Each lasted thirty years. Clyde and Ruth spoke at hundreds of Bible conferences and travelled around the world pioneering the work of psychology and missions. He was invited to speak in the military academies and centers of power in Washington including the White House, Pentagon and State Department. He wrote a number of books and was founder (with his nephew Bruce Narramore) of Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology.
What can we learn from pioneers like this who appear on the scene, have a significant impact during the prime of their lives and then often fade from view?
- Pioneers are alert to opportunities and possibilities in their environments. Before this was popular, the Narramores used radio to spread their message.
- Pioneers take action and often take risks. Clyde and Ruth demonstrated the relevance of psychology and counseling when these were suspect in many Christian circles.
- Christian pioneers are faithful believers, alert to God’s guidance and not ashamed of their beliefs.
- These people work hard, often without funds or recognition, but they persevere in doing what they feel called to do.
- Committed people, pioneers included, strive to make a lasting impact even when they recognize that all our lives and careers are like fog that eventually fades (James 4:14).
- Pioneers keep looking forward. Dr. Narramore ends his book “looking forward to great years of ministry” and identifies a competent successor to advance and continue the work.
Can pioneers be coached or trained? Can an individual determine to be a pioneer or are trailblazers blessed and gifted in some supernatural way? What would you add to the above list? Please comment.