Be thankful for those who have shaped your life

August 18, 2021

By Jeff Becraft


There are all kinds of experiences that have shaped our lives. Recently, we got to do a workshop with a delegation from Nigeria on youth leadership.

After the workshop, one of the delegates said to me, “Where do you all get this stuff?  Like the activity you did with us.”  (As Oakley says, we want people to actually experience Youth Corps.)

“I’ve been to a lot of camps over the years and had a lot of different experiences and we have a team where we all brainstorm,” I responded.  It wasn’t like I was born with it.  Other people influenced me.

One of the people who has influenced me greatly is my brother, Ed.  Not only was Ed a great big brother, he taught me a lot about eventually being a dad.

Ed was five years older than me and most of growing up, he and his friends were twice the size of me and my friends.

Ed would do all kinds of stuff with me and play various sports and games.  For instance, he and his friends would get down on their knees and play against me and my friends in football.  We would be running around upright and dressed in football gear and there would be Ed and his friends down on their knees.

When I became a dad, guess what you would see in our front yard?  There was our son, Josiah, running around fully decked out in his football gear and I would be down on my knees, with my football helmet on from 4th grade, with no face mask, which didn’t even fit, hurt like a big dog , and poked up on my head so I looked Fred MacMurray in Son of Flubber.  All I needed was some flubber gas. (I did have to wear knees pads, though… had to give some cushion to my knees somehow.)

Where did I get that from?  I saw it in my brother.

There were many other things.  Like Ed put up a small backboard and basketball hoop in our basement and we would use a mini-sized ball to play with. Ed always made the playing field competitive.  He would shoot with his left hand (he was right handed) and would play at a certain level.

For wiffle ball, he  would stack up lawn chairs on top of one another to use as a backstop.  We would use a plastic golf ball for a ball (something I learned from my baseball coach) and he would bat left handed with a 6′ piece of thin, wooden molding.  I was allowed to use a regular baseball bat or wiffle ball bat.

Those experiences and lessons I learned from my brother have stayed with me… and then I implemented them in my life with my own kids and other kids.

If there are experiences that have positively shaped our lives, then we probably have someone to thank for that.  I am thankful for my brother, Ed, for the experiences he shared with me that have gone on to shape my life… and now other lives.

It’s a great day to be thankful for those who have shaped your life!


Jeff Becraft is the Executive Director for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives.  Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].