My last conversation with my Young Life leader

Brian Tome

3 mins

I wouldn’t be the man I am today without Denny Pattyn.

He was my Young Life leader in high school, and he just might be the first person who truly believed in me.

Since those first moments, when I met Denny after football practice, my life has unfolded beyond anything I ever imagined.

I’ve helped plant a church in Cincinnati that has become one of the largest and fastest-growing in the country. I get to teach to tens of thousands of people every weekend at our 10 locations and online in homes, coffee shops, and bars. Our church has spearheaded multiple nonprofit efforts to help the poor and disadvantaged in Cincinnati and around the world.

And none of it would have happened without Denny.

When I was a high schooler and more concerned with partying, chasing girls, and blowing up my teacher’s mailboxes, Denny saw what I could be. He took me under his wing and mentored me. He gave me his time and his effort, and God used it to transform my life.

It’s been over two years since my last long conversation with Denny. He was dying of cancer with only weeks to live when I hosted him on my podcast. We talked about influence, mentorship, and faithfulness to the end. There were laughs and there were tears.

The following morning, I wrote this in my journal during my time with God:

Recently had what was likely my last conversation via podcast with Denny Pattyn, who brought me to Christ and led me into ministry. It was a painful, joyful, emotional, and profound conversation. I realize that he will be one of the few people I’ve ever known who will endure to the end. He only has weeks left to live and his vision hasn’t dimmed and his heart hasn’t faltered. When he is gone, what will be left are the lives he has changed, either directly or indirectly, because of the grace of Jesus in His life. God, thank you for Denny. I want to endure as he has endured.

There were times Denny wanted to give up on me—we talked about a few of them in the podcast. But he endured and his legacy continues to ripple out, not just through me, but through the thousands of lives he touched.

If you’re mentoring someone else and wonder if your time and effort are making a difference; if you doubt that you still need a seasoned guide ahead of you to help point the way; if you wonder if your everyday life of faithfulness is having an impact, listen to our conversation. You’ll be encouraged and challenged.

There is nothing more important than the choices you make today. Keep pushing. Keep going. Don’t give up.

Your faithfulness matters.


Hear my last conversation with Denny, including what happened after the official recording ended, wherever you find podcasts:
Apple Podcasts

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Brian Tome
Meet the author

Brian Tome

Guiding you to the adventurous life you were made for. Adventurer, Author, Senior Pastor of Crossroads Church. More about Brian Tome.

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