When Tyler Tolbert was a kid, he dreamed of being a part-time NBA basketball player, a part-time artist, and a part-time minister. When he noticed he was playing guard, forward, and center for his basketball team in junior high (he was guarding the water bottles, leaning forward, and sitting at the center of the bench), he decided that he wasn’t going to cut it in the pros.
When art kept him from straight A’s, he decided he wasn’t going to be filling Picasso’s shoes. The truth is he wasn’t gifted for those two professions, even though he does love to watch some good basketball, especially the Kentucky Wildcats, and he loves some good art, especially Thomas Kinkade.
One gift that God gave him is a passion for connecting with people and connecting them to Jesus, so God used that to lead Tyler into the ministry. So he’s living the dream at First Christian Church in Columbus, IN, where he serves as the Outreach & Discipleship and it excites him to help people grow in their faith. He loves meeting and getting to know the stories of people of all ages.
Tyler, resides with his beautiful wife, Megan, their kids, and their Miniature Schnauzer, Zoe, in Columbus, IN.
Key Points from the Episode with Tyler Tolbert:
- Tyler and I met on the course of the 2015 Chicago Marathon, where we both supported each other through what was a tough race for each of us
- In anything Tyler does, regardless of how it’s going for him, he asks what he can do to help someone else
- While this is a great way to give back, it’s also about the uplifting feeling it brings him, which helps him get the mind out of the trap it can get into when any of us is struggling
- Tyler is a minister in Indiana, currently focused on youth ministry for middle school and high school kids as well as helping people with outreach to others to help
- He spoke about the change in outreach where it used to be purely about love, but with the tone in our society today, it has come off as judgmental or pushy in many cases, so he tries to help people see how to share with and care for others in a respectful way that’s about building a genuine relationship over pushing ideas
- Sometimes, we treat people more like projects than people when trying to bring them to our way of thinking, whereas Tyler wants to create a friendship rather than a project
- Growing up, Tyler’s older brother, Travis, and he were always in church as his family was very involved in their local community
- He enjoyed his time in church, but didn’t really understand what it all really meant until he was 8 and his brother was 9
- Travis was diagnosed in February, 1999, with a brain tumor
- Tyler’s parents were away with his brother at the hospital frequently, battling the cancer
- Tyler of course didn’t understand so much of what was going on, but could tell this was all a serious thing given the physical impact on his brother and the time he and their parents would spend in the hospital
- There was so much Tyler didn’t see or understand since he was at home with other family while his parents walked through everything with Travis
- In a way, that was a gift for Tyler, who was too young to fully process the gravity of the situation
- It came to a point where treatment was becoming less successful, and it became clear that ultimately, it would not succeed
- Through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Travis wanted to meet his idol, Michael Jordan, who was also Tyler’s idol
- Unfortunately, they weren’t able to meet Jordan, but got to go to Indiana, see a baseball game, go on a shopping spree, and go to a Pacers game and meet the mascot
- As soon as they got back that night, Travis was really struggling
- Tyler woke up the next morning, August 6th, 1999, and he heard his parents up very early
- He walked down the hallway to his parents’ room, and realized this was the moment when his brother was going to die, just 6 months after his diagnosis
- The EMTs came to try to help, but weren’t able to make it better, so their parents invited family and friends over to be with Travis in his final moments so he could feel love and support
- Before he passed, Travis had decided he wanted to live the time he had for God, even if his life is shorter than he expected, and got baptized
- That commitment and faith had a strong impact on Tyler, setting the stage for the path Tyler took
- A couple of years after Travis died, Tyler felt a change in his feelings about it
- He felt that God helped him go from being bitter about losing Travis to seeing the beauty in the life Travis did have and the impact he got to have
- This was the moment that Tyler himself felt the shift and decided to go down a path to join the ministry
- Tyler admitted the truth that, no matter how close your relationship is with God, or how positive and supportive you are for others, you can still have moments of doubt and struggle in life, which he has himself on occasion
- We talked about the balance of being helpful to others, yet not accepting help for ourselves
- If we value helping others, why would be cheat others out of the blessing of helping us?
- Tyler closed by sharing a Bible verse about the comfort we receive from God, and how we should be sharing that comfort then with others who need it
- Tyler encourages people to reach out to him for help or to talk about all of this, regardless of what you believe
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