Personal Legend Project: Tim Ayers

Tim Ayers, Grace Church

When my wife Courtney and I started discussing people for this project, one of the first that came up was Tim Ayers.  She grew up swimming with his children and knew him as someone who embraced his calling to the church.  Over the years, she continued to hear his name mentioned by friends who attended Grace Church.  In my time photographing his class, I could see his passion for teaching through his carefully considered words and his connection to his students, as they listened closely to his thoughts and ideas.

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

To help others navigate through the complexities and difficulties of life. As a Teaching Pastor, my calling is best seen in making sense of the Bible; teaching it in ways that bring both understanding of the text in its original context and how that message is relevant to our lives today. But the calling of ‘Pastor’ is far bigger than simply being a teacher. It involves being present with people in the joys and sorrows of life.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

In my early 20’s after watching three separate men live out the calling in a way that spoke to my heart.

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

While teaching.

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

There are two: 1) saying and doing the right thing in moments of great tragedy and 2) personal attacks that come with leading a church. It is often unimaginable what people will say; it is also unimaginable what will be important enough to someone to say something darkly critical. It is impossible to not to take things personally especially when you are consciously working to do your best.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

How little I actually know about our very complicated lives. It has taught me humility.

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Do not allow obstacles to stand in your way. My pathway to living out my calling took years of effort and many unexpected twists and turns, but it was all worth the effort.  


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Deacon Bill Reid

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Deacon Bill Reid, St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church

Deacon Bill spent 31 years working at Eli Lilly.  As retirement approached, he began to consider his next chapter.  His sister mentioned that she thought he’d make a great deacon, and he admitted that he didn’t know exactly what a deacon’s role was.  As he learned about the diaconate, he began to think that it could be a great fit for him.  At first, he told me, he thought that becoming a deacon might be as simple as receiving a blessing from a priest.  However, the actual path required seven years of schooling.

Bill Reid officially became Deacon Bill Reid in 2008.  He likes to say that he’s not “retired” he’s “rewired.”  Well put.  His enthusiasm for his role in the church was immediately evident when my wife and I had first attended his baptism class in 2009.  As a deacon, he performs baptisms, and he has baptized two of our children.  I had hoped to photograph him at a baptism, as that’s one of his favorite roles in the church, but alas, he was not scheduled for one in April.  I opted to take the photos at  Vespers (evening prayers), which I think made for a great second choice.  Deacon Bill enjoys the rituals of the Catholic Church and I think these images capture that.

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The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Following God’s call is challenging, difficult, and highly rewarding. My true calling is to be a visible sign of God’s love to everyone – not just members of my family, not just members of my parish, not just to people whom I like – but to everyone I come in contact with.

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2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I think I’ve known this is my calling for my whole adult life, but it became very clear to me when I considered retirement from the business world, and wondered what I would do next. One of my early bosses gave me good advice when I was quite young, right out of college; he said “You have to retire to, you can’t just retire from. That way you’ll have something that will engage you for the rest of your life, and you won’t just waste away doing nothing.” I remembered that advice and followed it when I considered retirement.

My sister was the first to suggest that I consider becoming a Deacon, and that thought kept coming back to me over and over again as I prayed and discussed the idea with my wife.

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3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I lose track of time when I am engaged in a serious conversation with someone who is struggling, either with their faith, or with an important life situation they find themselves in. In those times of personal crisis, I look for opportunities to help them live through the crisis, and for me time just stands completely still.

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4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

The hardest thing to manage or control is time! Every one of us gets the same amount of time every day, no matter what our occupation. Throughout the day I’m asked to spend time with my family, and with church-related activities. As a husband and father and grandfather along with being a deacon, there just aren’t enough minutes in the day to satisfy everyone. Balancing all these priorities is a real challenge!

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5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

It has taught me that I have been blessed in many ways throughout my life, in my successes and in my failures. I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. I continue to seek God every day, and I find Him in the most amazing places.

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6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Even though it sounds cheesy, you need to follow your heart! Deep within you lurks your true calling, even if you are not pursuing it at the present time. If you take time to pray quietly, to seek and follow the advice of good friends, and to be honest with yourself about your skills and abilities, you may be lucky enough to discover what your true calling is. It can take most of a lifetime to find it. Once you’ve found it, follow it!

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Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.