Something I love about whole-life discipleship is how matter-of-fact it sometimes is. There’s no fanfare or fireworks for many of us, just simple day-in, day-out faithfulness in the spheres God has planted us. This faithful discipleship in the everyday makes me think of people like Donny Terenzoni.
When Donny thinks about what ordinary faithfulness looks like lived out, he says, “The biggest thing for me is how you live and how you act.” Once, in the Navy Reserves, when a fellow serviceman found out about Donny’s faith, he said “I knew you were a Christian. I knew there was something different about you.” This is how Donny has tried to live out his faith in everyday life, “living the walk” in such a way that he can be a “good example for others to follow,” living in such a way that they see how following Jesus has changed his life. He focuses on showing others kindness, being a good encourager, and praying for others when they’re struggling.
One practice Donny has found to be important to live this way is to take time with the Lord each morning. “What I do pretty much every day, before I even go to my office, is sit down with my cup of coffee and read a little of the Word,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll be so busy, and I’ll look into my office and remember a word of wisdom I heard once, ‘You have so much to do that you have to take time to pray about it first.’ So, then I’ll veer into my living room where my study area is with my rocking chair and my Bible. I really try to start my day like that, even if it’s ten or fifteen minutes.”
He also finds a great encouragement in his church family, though that’s looked different lately in the midst of the pandemic. “Being a Christian is something that speaks to everyday,” Donny says. But he sees that his time gathering with his church on Sunday gives him the encouragement and rejuvenation to be faithful in his daily life Monday through Saturday. He says, “You need God in your life every day, and Sundays help get your week off to the right start. We need that refreshment.”
Donny grew up going to church, and his parents were always a great encouragement in his faith. He can’t help but talk specifically of his mother, who he lost this year, and the ways she inspired him to make his faith a part of his everyday life.
He, in turn, is now doing the same for his children. Donny has three sons, and he has been aware that “they’re watching [him] every step of the way.” This reality has kept him in tune with how his words and actions reflect on his walk with Jesus. Now that his sons are grown, he texts them verses he’s reading and things that he’s learning, and these messages provide opportunities for conversations about how faith applies to all of their lives as well. He often encourages them to “show [everyone you meet] the love that God has shown you.”
Donny has been in the home heating oil business for thirty years. It’s a small family business, and Donny says he started it (and has had the determination, support, and partnership to continue it) at the encouragement of his wife. As a self-proclaimed “people person,” he loves that the business gives him opportunities to see people throughout his workday. He also loves the flexibility his line of work has offered to stay involved with family and church events—and to slow down as he needed to during the day. Both of these things have provided Donny opportunities to be a blessing to others on his frontline.
Once, in the middle of a winter storm, Donny delivered oil to an older single woman who lived with and cared for her elderly mother. She was always someone who needed encouragement. In spite of the long list of deliveries he needed to make, he stayed and talked with her for hours. To hear Donny tell such a story shows the depth of his desire to be a blessing wherever God has him: “That’s what I love about the business. I can do what I want, and if I have to restructure my day by an hour, so be it.”
Another time, Donny met a homeless mother and her teenage son. Donny offered the son a job and hired him to help with deliveries for a time. He wanted to see them find a way out of their current situation, and it was a way for him to do his part.
As he thinks about the interactions like these he’s had with customers over the years, he says, “All you can do is the best you can. You plant the seed, and you have to trust that God will make it grow.”
Diana Gruver (MA, Gordon-Conwell) writes about discipleship and spiritual formation in the every day. She is the author of Companions in the Darkness: Seven Saints who Struggled with Depression and Doubt. You can find her online at www.dianagruver.com or on Facebook or Twitter. Diana originally published this work with the Vere Institute (Oct 2014 – May 2021), which was founded to empower Christians to integrate their faith into everyday life. The Vere Institute’s legacy lives on through our Vere Library.