Hi there. I’m here sharing 16 lessons I learned from my dad. I consider them valuable, and maybe there is something you can use or that resonates in your heart. Get some tea, curl up in your comfy chair, and join me in conveying the joys and rewards of a life spent with Elder and the lessons along the way☕️
For a few moments, we take our thumbs off the keyboard and step away from the screaming online. Just as there are virtual friends, there are virtual enemies and unwelcome things competing for our attention–we live in this weird world, and sometimes, it’s good to quiet the noise.
Something real that almost all of us can count on is that someday we ourselves will be sitting in a hospital room and struggling to fit decades worth of unspoken thoughts into whatever seconds we have left. These moments—not some political battle or sarcastic opinion or funny meme—will be among the most important moments of our lives, and none of our distractions or righteous anger or opinions will mean as much to us as a single extra “I love you”, except if it stole the minutes we could have used to say just that.
When that time comes, nothing will matter except having our lives right with Christ.
As a church, we miss Elder LaFleur, and anyone who had the opportunity to learn from his teachings understands why he was our spiritual father. His words inspired me, and countless others, and they still guide our actions so that terrible things that might come down the road do not shake us off the foundation.
If you were part of his flock, or had the privilege of being within the inner workings of his ministry, you know that brought us where we are today. We are spiritually rich because we had an Apostle who built and established all of his works on the right foundation.
We do not worship men, but we do honor those who are worthy. We are thankful for men throughout the course of history who have paid an incredible price to bring the truth to you and me—from those in the Bible, to those who were tortured for translating the Bible into language we can understand, to those who, like in 1 Chronicles 11, put their lives in jeopardy so that the spirit and salvation could be put into our hands.
Thank God for those, like Elder, who paid the price. Can you imagine if the early church had caved under the pressure? If they had not pressed through, we wouldn’t be here. Even when they were scattered, men like Philip went into Samaria and began to preach—they just kept testifying and preaching about the name, Jesus, and God kept adding to the church.
What if Peter and John had seceded to the threats of the council and stopped preaching the truth? We should remain deeply indebted to all those, including Elder LaFleur if you were under his apostleship, with all our hearts and the rest of our lives🖤
Share this with a friend whose entire life’s goals have been about serving the Lord. (Brb, going to stare at the vision board.)
#ReflectionsOfThingsILearned #HowDadInfluencedMyThinking #TheWordIsMyLifeline
By Sister Lisa LaFleur Meinhardt
I’m sharing personal reflections of things I learned from my dad and by watching his life — some I have down pat; others, I am still working on.
I remember Dad being in full-time ministry coming home from preaching in tents in different towns or from giving Bible studies in people’s homes. I’ve seen the Lord reward his labor because his heart was genuinely grateful for the calling the Lord put on his life, so much that he never even seemed aware of the sacrifices.
Lesson #1 About Sowing: Do Unto Others
I have seen everything someone has worked so hard for and spent a lifetime investing in—lost in a moment of time. I have seen the Lord take away, and I have seen Him give back.
More than a decade ago, I sat on my parents’ living room couch one morning having coffee (I miss these times). I was having a discussion with my dad about a situation that was working on my last nerve, and he said to me, “You never know when the roles will be reversed . . . so remember that in how you treat others.”
I still appreciate that statement — it changed my actions then and how I look at things now.
Lesson #2 About the Past: The Years the locusts have eaten
Dad always preached to not dwell on your past because it will stagnate your future. The past is like mud. You get stuck, and when you try to leave, you end up spinning your wheels.
“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten . . .” -Joel 2;25
Missing time—usually describes a psychological phenomenon—time passes without a person having any recollection of what took place. I see it now to mean more than one thing. It’s the time that elapses between something traumatic or a sudden change and the point where there is closure or recompense, where we are able to start again.
Sometimes that point never comes. Entire lives can be lost this way.
Time Never Stands Still and History Continues to Unfold. It Just Goes on Without You.
Dad constantly told our congregation to get forgiveness of our sins, let the past go, and keep moving forward. Every single person has a past and sins.
It can be hard to develop in these lost years. When people carry burdens alone, they devote all their energy to bearing them, and while they do, time goes missing. Where are the moments of growth, joy, contemplation, love, and living? Inside that void.
By the fall of 2018, I had just lost my dad, and after a hurricane hit our town, I lost my job. Things went dark. I got stuck. No matter how many wise things you’ve learned along the way or how much you’ve read the Bible, when you feel an erosion of trust and sense yourself losing belief, your life stands still.
Lesson #3 About Learning: How Much You Learn Hinges on How Much You Trust
I’ve been a teacher in my life and I understand learning requires risk-taking. We face what we don’t know with hope of advancing toward grasping it. The smaller the undertaking, the lower the gamble. Learning tomorrow’s weather does not require an interior or emotional journey.
I learned under the best, Elder LaFleur, and I can tell you learning about the true and important things in life absolutely requires trust, dedication, and vulnerability. It is no surprise so many of us, from grade school through adulthood, come to love the ones who teach us.
Paul taught Timothy to be prepared to preach in season and out of season.
Dad followed that instruction even though an out-of-season message is not always one we would rather hear, but if we are honest Christians, at the end there is a thankfulness and shout of glory in our hearts. If we want to get through to the other side, we cannot avoid the hard truths or tough places. His messages that may have felt out of season for us at times have given us strength to face the days we have recently faced and what is ahead. In season, or out of season, the truth is the only thing that will make us free.
We can’t afford to get stuck in the past.
When terrible things happened in my life, I stopped learning. I became more aware of this kind of “missing time” I referred to earlier, and I started to observe it. Once I noticed it, I could see it in other lives, too. It’s a tough concept to document, but my light had gone under a bushel. I had stopped striving. Bit by bit, the Holy Ghost, my dad’s teachings about the Word, and his influence over me began seeping back in, bringing me back to life.
Lesson #4 About Things: In a Moment of Time
Dad saw beyond the world and all it offers. Possessions fade. They are temporary by nature, and there is always something new around the corner. Material items are one more thing that we worry about — something that can be scratched, broken, or lost.
When Dad had a nice house, car, and material items, one thing he never lost sight of—he knew it could be gone in an instant. He told told Mom, “If we lose it all, but we still have the Lord and each other, then we have everything.”
In this lifetime, relationships end, loved ones die, jobs are lost, and material possessions come and go. If our security is in any of these things, even though many of them do come from God, our confidence will be shaken.
Lesson #5 About Sight: Beyond This World
If we lift our eyes only so high, this world becomes our source of supply and provision, and we may be shocked to find that one day, it can all be taken away. If your happiness is because you have a car or a house, or money in the bank and a retirement plan, be warned that a day might come when it is all gone. If we’ve seen anything these last months, we should realize that.
What do you think matters to people who are dying?
Think of 9/11 and people who had gotten so high on the financial chain and had about one hour to live. Were they thinking of how many cars they had? How many places they could travel? Buying a summer home?
Elder taught that there is coming a day when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and only that which cannot be shaken will remain.
“. . . but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” -Hebrews 12
He enjoyed life. No one loved getting a present more than he did or a new watch or shopping in Sam’s spending his gift cards—but he never lost sight that all of that was temporary, and his focus stayed on Christ. Where are we setting our eyes?
“Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” -Proverbs 23:5
Lesson #6 About Identity: who we came from
Responsibility comes with the blessing of God. Remember the incredible promise that was given to Abraham?
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” -Genesis 12:1-3
Who wouldn’t want that blessing?
People will pass you walking down the street and know that God’s protective hand is on you. They will watch God go to battle against your enemies. And there’s the last part of that promise: the blessing was not just for Abraham, but was something God was going to do to flow through him for the sake of other people.
Elder knew where he came from, who he was, and the magnitude in which God was using him. He wanted us to know and have confidence in who we are because we are part of that blessing that flowed through him.
We have been given access to worship and revelations of truth.
There are people who have been given great opportunity and great truth, but they took what was handed to them and were self-indulgent. They saw it as something for their own glory and used it for their own benefit. They did not want to go where this cup leads them.
Understanding our true identity requires (1) knowing who we were without God, and (2) who we are because of God. We cannot lose our thankfulness for where we came from and where God has brought us.
Lesson #7 About What makes great men: Paul’s Writings are Like a Package of Dynamite
The apostle Paul says that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which will soon be revealed in us. Because of Jesus, we have a new heart, a new hope, and an eternal future.
Those things should compel us to cultivate a grateful heart. Like Brother Nobles said, how can you be truly grateful when you feel like you sacrificed and earned where you are? No one feels thankful for their paycheck — you put in time, you show up, you are dedicated, and you work. It’s hard to be thankful for something you feel like you earned (and deserve).
Paul’s letters are explosive.
He had already learned about the power and faithfulness of God. We get Paul’s vision: something is coming in the future and that is why Paul could say, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Dad understood this scripture better than anyone I know. He never wasted time talking about his sufferings, but rather took every opportunity to say, “No matter what we have to endure now, something good is coming . . . get ready!”
My dad’s life was the definition of what makes a great man.
Have you ever noticed some of the greatest men in the Bible such as David, Peter, Paul, and many others, had big things happening to or around them? They didn’t get the luxury of living what today would be deemed “drama-free” lives. These great men did not live quiet lives where there were not big challenges.
I’m sure, like today, there were probably some back then who suggested ‘they brought some of their suffering on themselves’. They could have said David was too emotionally driven; Paul, too successful and dogmatic; or Peter, too impulsive—but God knew them better than anyone else. He knew their weaknesses and how that worked into their strengths. That’s why He called them. They had what it took to do His work.
Dad was no different.
He loved food. That was no secret. What was a secret? He grew up never having enough food, and while his family ate at the table, he was humiliated and made to sit on the pantry floor or in the cellar with what little they put on his plate. Until you understand someone and their life’s battle, or take time to wrap your brain around what another person has endured, or take one step in their shoes (empathy)—it is easy to judge and say what they should or should not have done, yet you did not live their life.
No one covets a bad childhood, but it gave Dad the resilience and strength he would need to accomplish the job God called him to do.
Great men (including Elder) are called because not only do they have what it takes to meet great challenges, but they also understand the plight of others. They are great leaders because they have empathy for what others bear—they know what distress, devastation, and sorrow feel like, and they are quick to relate and pray for others going through tough times—especially when someone calls them asking for prayer.
I can tell you 100% if you ever called my father or mother and asked them to pray for you, or any special request—they took it seriously, and they prayed intently because they loved you and understood what you were going through.
Men like my father faced tremendous challenges, which gave them strong testimonies that still inspire today and distinctive footprints that continue to lead—long after they are gone.
If you knew my dad, you knew he was a man of honor . . . with dual meaning.
Elder was a man of God, called to be an Apostle, who lived a life worthy of great honor, and he ALWAYS honored those who paved the road for him to get where he was in the Lord.
Lesson #8 About Silence: Stay Strong When God is Silent
I told my dad one time that I didn’t really feel God saying anything in my heart, and I didn’t understand why. I know He doesn’t come in a loud, booming voice, but if you are listening, you should hear that still, small voice tugging at your conscience and heart. All I heard was silence during a time when I felt I really needed an answer and God’s intervention.
Dad told me everyone has those seasons in their life when they don’t hear God speaking to their hearts (really? even him?). He asked how I could ever accuse God of being silent when He left sixty-six books written for us and spoke thousands of verses to me?
Hadn’t thought of it like that. Good point.
Lesson #9 About Drifting: Don’t Want to Wander In Your Spiritual Walk? Be in Church, Study, Pray, and Read.
People begin new walks in Christ with exuberance, and then some start drifting.
Elder always said to be in church and part of what is going on whenever the doors are open, study and listen to CDs of services, pray, and read your Bible.
I have always loved reading, and thanks to wonderful parents who loved God and put me in a Christian school, regardless of where I’ve ever been in my life, I have always read my Bible. It is my lifeline and has kept me tethered to Him my whole life.
When I read, I put myself right in the middle of what is going on. I’m there. Either relating it to today or like I’m one of the people witnessing what is happening. I also find a lot of humor (maybe like my dad in that department).
Sharing a few passages that give me a chuckle when I read them.
1 Kings: When David is lying there in his old age, chilly, his servant offers to get him a young virgin to marry to keep him warm, and David’s like, I could do that. I don’t know, but if I were there, I would have suggested some cute snuggly puppies, but whatever.
Also I Kings: Adonijah at his coronation feast thinking he’s becoming the new king when he and his guests hear Solomon and the gang celebrating good times (haha). Adonijah’s supporters suddenly realize they are backing the wrong horse in this race and get outta there before there’s trouble. Imagine them scattering like crazy! Adonijah turns around, and . . . ‘they gone’.
Jonah: The days of milk and honey are long over (saith the Lord), and things are getting crazy up in here. This book is definitely an adventure: scared sailors, a big fish, a shady plant, and some divine snark (God has humor, too). By the time of Jonah, the Assyrians have invaded Israel and are making life miserable for everyone (everyone, that is, except the Assyrians). Yet, God tells Jonah to still give them a chance to repent before bringing divine judgment down on their heads.
So, Jonah does what any self-respecting prophet would do when faced with the prospect of seeing bad guys avoid a grisly fate . . . he takes off in the opposite direction. God’s man on the run. Jonah does not want the Assyrians to live another day because they deserve to die, but God finds a way—enter a giant fish swallowing Jonah alive—to quiet his carnal thinking. God reminds Jonah of His righteousness and mercy. A few funny moments for readers today, but all in all, not a good few days for Jonah, but a powerful message from God to Jonah, and to us.
There are quite a few people in the Bible I cannot wait to meet.
Getting to know them and understand they were real people who persevered when things were tough—is the biggest inspiration. They made mistakes, they won, and they lost. The more you read the Bible, the better you get to know each person, and you connect with people who are real to you.
To call this book a “conversation piece” or “an important book” feels belittling . . . it is so much more than that. It’s a lightning rod. Sixty-six brilliantly crafted letters and books written through the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful for His Word.
I look forward to meeting the writers one day. I can’t wait to tell them: These books that you’ve written, these books that I love? They made my life a better place. They changed my life. They comforted me. They made it possible for me to overcome.
If you do not study your notes or read the Word, how in the world can you hide these words in your heart for when you need them . . . and you will need them. Whether for a time in your life to keep you connected to Jesus, to pull you through a trial, or for a time when we might not have freedom to pick up our Bibles anymore—we need to be hiding it in our hearts. That’s the one and only place from which no one can take it.
When you start reading, you won’t be able to stop. Why? Because all the answers to every problem we have—they are all in there. Through someone else’s journey of hardships, or joys, or scriptures you cannot deny, your very life is found on those pages.
I am constantly pulling on words and testimonies of so many people in the Bible—they cannot overcome for me, but knowing what they went through and how God used them and the messages God sent to us through them—it is ammunition we need to do serious battle with our own mind.
Three ways Dad gave me to study and read.
My dad and I shared a love of watching mysteries, staying up late to tune in to old classic TV shows, and my family loved reading . . . reading . . . reading. The best book he shared with me was the Word. He gave me advice on reading it:
First — study your notes and read the scriptures from each service.
Second — have a favorite scripture that will get you through the hard days–they will come and you will wear that one out. That’s what it’s there for. If you are going through something and need a psalm or a proverb, read one.
Third — read your Bible from beginning to end. Then, read by your favorite books.
I still try to follow these guidelines today because whatever we fill our minds with—that is what we will become.
Lesson #10 About Answers: God Has Already Given Them to Us
We really shouldn’t ask God to repeat himself. Thank God Genesis doesn’t say: “And He said let there be light. And He said let there be light.”
Can you imagine if we had been there that first day when God created light?
Enter, typical us.
We would be dancing and rejoicing all day from 6am until 6pm.
Then . . . panic would set in.
We’d say “Oh no, I knew the light wouldn’t last. I knew it would go away. Maybe it’s something we’ve done—we didn’t pray enough. See what we get?” We would spend the next 12 hours in sorrow. Then the sun would come up again, and we would realize . . . God didn’t mean there would not be night.
Lesson #11 About Time: Resist the Urge to “Make” God’s Words Happen
He never promised there would not be seasons when we don’t see or understand, but we cannot make something happen to prove God has spoken and will do something in, or through, our life. Only He can do that, and it will only happen on His timetable, not ours.
If God said he’ll bring your family home, that’s up to Him. If he’s going to use your life, that’s on His timetable, not yours.
Lesson #12 About Omniscient: What If We Could See the Whole Journey?
Joseph could not see his whole journey. He did not know there was going to be a deep pit, 20 pieces of silver, goat’s blood, Potipher, and a Potipher’s wife standing in the road of his journey. Maybe it’s good we don’t see the whole journey?
There’s going to be bending, a reshaping, some fire, and it’s all going to take time.
I imagine Dad felt many times that he thought God was going to use him for His glory, but during some of those early days, I’m sure all he felt was God hammering and shaping him. All I know is I watched him stick out the hard times, go through trials, and let the Lord mold him—all without seeing what was coming next, blessing or trial.
He just kept on walking and trusting God.
One exceptional thing I learned from dad’s life:
If God has spoken something over you, it will come to pass. Put it in the bank. Etch it in stone. That is always going to be the testimony of God’s people. If He has called you to do something, He will make a way for you. If we fail, we get back up. We believe, and God does something that can only be done by His hand.
Lesson #13 About hope: A Little Light
I heard my dad talk about asking God to give him just a little light, and how thankful he was each time the Lord let him see that little light.
I think this is a good place for us to talk — in case you never heard what that little light really meant for him.
When Dad was a child, he was frequently locked in a cold, dark cellar. As he sat down in there scared and many times trembling (he wrote about this later), he would stare up at the top of the stairs hoping to see a little light come through the cracks of the door. Maybe it would mean, just maybe . . . someone was coming to help him.
It would be years later that he would leave that place and his real story would begin as he got off a bus in Jacksonville, North Carolina and sat waiting on a bench.
He joined the Marine Corps — and was so thankful to finally have a bed and his own locker.
He met his wife — and was so thankful to finally be part of a good family.
He met the Lord — and was so thankful to finally have a reason to live. From that point on, no one would ever be able to pry the Word of God from his hands. Literally, he carried it and had it with him everywhere he went.
For the rest of his life on earth, he would continue to pray and ask God for a “little light” — for just a “little hope” when he needed it. (Please hand me some tissues.)
As his daughter, I saw that traumatic things in your life never ever leave you.
The trauma he suffered as a young boy was with him until the end, but I also can tell you he did not let it defeat him. He overcame by not giving in to it, and the Lord helped him every single day to rise above it all. He loved and appreciated God and his life with the Lord more than anyone I have ever known, seen, or read about. No one loved Christ or was more appreciative of being saved than he was.
Dad’s advice when I thought God didn’t hear me.
Maybe God gets our attention with silence. He’s letting us go through all our motions of pulling every lever, pushing every button, trying to out fox, and out run.
We’ve watched a child who doesn’t listen–the parent knowing it will lead to a dead end, but the child won’t listen, so the parent stays silent. When all else is hopeless, we have done all we can, and we’re running out of gas, God steps in.
Dad was grateful for every time God gave him a little light because it was sufficient. That famous “little light” gave my dad the hope he needed to keep going.
Lesson #14 About Trust: When You Come To Your End
How many times have we seen in David’s life when he started out strong—leading an army into the enemy camp, defeating a bear and lion—it seemed like there was no end to how God would use his life.
Then . . . in a moment in his life when he moved into guiding his own path and tried to bring about what he thought should be, all he did was bring himself and others into incredible sorrow. God does not have to keep repeating what He already said years ago. It will still come to pass. David finally comes to his own end and goes back to the source of his strength.
In my life when despair is at my door, I go back and remember how faithful God has been to me. I remember hearing about His promises, and I think about how I’ve known victories that could NOT have happened without Him directing everything around me.
If we are going to go the full distance with the Lord, there are going to be hard times and suffering. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. We will be led into difficult places our flesh does not want to go.
Like Jacob, we need to come out of that place with a new nature.
1 Chronicles 11 — Like David, God forbid that we should drink from this incredible water in our hand and should use it for our own glory and comfort. My dad did not want to die stretched on an ivory bed (Amos 6), but his heart was in line with David’s. He finished his course by pouring out whatever God gave him for the glory of God and His people. All through history, the Lord has come and filled the nobodys and nothings of this world with His spirit and opened their eyes to something the most intelligent will probably never see.
God, you gave me the power to finish this fight . . . right to the end.
Like David (Psalm 18) not turning again until his enemies were consumed, the Lord did the same for Elder. He said without the Lord he was nobody, but God came and filled his life and made him a somebody.
Elder did not let the cup stop in his hands—he passed it on. He wanted every saint, every child, and every young person to be saved.
Lesson #15 About Genetics: My Father’s Eyes
Many times I’ve heard that I have my dad’s eyes. As Sister Clara says, “those LaFleur eyes” (sorry, inside jokes are rude, but I had to). My prayer is that one day I might inherit his spiritual eyes.
Faith was my dad’s lens—it was his way of seeing everything.
I hear his voice in my head as I tell myself I will not be silent to God.
When I don’t think I hear God speaking to me,
I will still praise and thank Him. I will not be silent among God’s people: I will testify that God has been good to me and brought me through so much. I will not be silent in my faith toward God: God has been faithful to me. God will keep me. God will deliver me. God will take me home. God will take me there in victory. God will take my family with me. He will always be my God.
Those are things I learned from my dad’s life.
God doesn’t have to repeat Himself. The victory is already ours if we do the right thing. Dad always said, “We read the last chapter, and we won!”
Thank God we have a song in our hearts that cannot be taken away from us. In the Body of Christ, we have something eternal established in us. We are more than conquerors. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God—no powers, no mountain, no principalities, and no weapons.
Lesson #16 About Confidence: Don’t Hang Your Head in the Grocery Store
Rest assured, we are not going to leave this world a whimpering church. We’re going out with a song in victory and God alive in our souls. Stay strong even when you feel like the Lord is silent.
My father would not hang his head in the grocery store or anywhere in public he went. He walked in victory . . . literally, he spoke to everyone he encountered, encouraged them, made them laugh, and held his head up as any child of the King would.
Dad simply believed everything God said would come to pass. He constantly worked on me to have more confidence.
God will make us into people we could never be in our own strength and will take us places and do things in the natural that could never be done. He will turn our mourning into dancing. That’s why we give thanks and hold our heads up wherever we go, whatever we do, now and forever.
What a light that is to the world!
Dad planted so many words of life in my heart, and no, I have not fully implemented them, but I will keep striving to one day uphold all of them.
Much love to you all❤️