Steve Jespersen

I first met Steve as a volunteer working on huge set construction projects. He would organize large teams of construction workers and slap together massive projects over a weekend. I was impressed with his organization skills and camaraderie with the crew. Eventually Steve and I worked in the Scenic set shop at Willow Creek. My experience working with Steve was: you are not just doing your job, you are working with other people and your attitude towards your relationships with these people is important to God. So he would ask me, “How are you feeling about this?” The thing that I didn’t expect when working at Willow in community with other people was that I would be confronted with every area of my life.

One such case was early on when I was asked to build the star for the Christmas production. I was very excited as I began to draft and construct this 8’ tall star. I crafted this thing with all the gusto I had in me. I built it like I was building a sail boat. I put ten 200 watt flood lamps inside this star; it was blinding. I had Ruth Levis help me skin it in stretch polyester, and I thought it was the best thing I had ever made. During rehearsal, however, when the star was to be lowered into this tender performance of an acoustical guitar and the sweet voice of a female performer, it just was too over-powering. They tried to dim it down but it was impossible. I got the call from my supervisor, Dan Larson, while I was out Christmas shopping.  ”Don, we can’t use your star. It’s not working out with the performance. It’s too big and overwhelming.” I was crushed. I thought I was serving God to my full potential with all that he had given me.

The star was a perfect metaphor for my ego. It was big, bright and not appropriate. After Christmas we always do a tear down and Steve was jumping up and down on my star to compact it so it could go into the trash. I jokingly said to him, “Hey be careful with that, it’s my ego you’re stomping on.” He responded, “Yeah, after I get done crushing it do you want to help me bury it in the dumpster?”  That was Steve, with a clever wit and blistering honesty making you truly look at yourself. He was Christ like in helping me face what I needed to work on and I’ll always be grateful to him for that among many other issues that needed work.