Recently, I lost a good friend who always encouraged me by his wisdom and his example. The Rev. David Crump excelled in his mastery of that most valuable kind of wisdom —the insights that help us to remain focused squarely upon what is truly important in our lives.

At age 42, David was almost young enough to be my son. In fact, I had first come to know him through other friends closer to my own age — his parents, the Revs. Izell and Elaine Crump.

Yet, during the years leading up to his untimely passing on Feb. 20, I had come to think of David Crump as a role model for my own life, as well as a friend.

Our friendship began back in 1998, when I invited the Congressional Black Caucus to Baltimore for a field investigation of our local responses to illicit drug use and HIV/AIDS, and the Crump family offered the use of their cafeteria, Micah’s, as the setting for our hearing.

David Crump was the master chef and maitre d’ at Micah’s at that time. The quality of the food that he prepared for us was excellent, but that did not fully explain the positive impression that he made on my CBC colleagues and me.

We were heartened by how well David worked with Micah’s staff and, especially, with the young people who worked there. At a time when so many young people were going astray, these young men and women were competent, polite and clearly engaged in building better lives for themselves. It was clear to all of us that David Crump was at the heart of a transformation in our youth that was worth our understanding.

In later years, therefore, it was no surprise to me that David would come to have an exceptional impact on the young people of our community. I often would find him reaching out to the youth, giving them the opportunity to find themselves in life-affirming settings. This calling was at the center of both Rev. Crump’s faith ministry and his home.

During a missionary trip to Ghana in 2000, David met the wonderful woman who would become his wife, Theresa Mina Crump.  Together, they built a household full of laughter and love for six natural and foster children: Davina, Latifah, Latrecia, Malik, Tyleakia and Tyleek. At his memorial service, the positive impact of David’s guidance on these children was there for all to witness.

The boys spoke of how David taught them to treat women with respect. One of the girls, Latifah, shared with us how David had told her, shortly before his death, that she should be prepared to look out for their mother and the younger children when he died. Her reflection touched our hearts. Through his love, support and example, David was preparing her to reach her destiny and to serve others in their own development.

I will remember him, both as a good father and husband and as a man devoted to his God and his family. During his short life, he became the kind of man whom all of us should try to be.

Recently, I was thinking about David’s example as I read some comments that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had made during a speech to the Alliance of Concerned Men. Encouraging us to take more responsibility for our children and homes, Eric Holder observed that “I have held many titles in my life.  But, the title that I am most proud of is father. A father’s role in the life of a child is irreplaceable.”

Stressing that we must do more to create a culture of mutual respect in our homes, Attorney General Holder went on to emphasize that “We, as men, need to spend more time with our sons and daughters. We need to teach our sons to have respect for women and our daughters to demand respect for themselves.”

This same wisdom was at the heart of Rev. David Crump’s ministry, and his home. It is a lesson that all of us would do well to heed.

When far too many of our children do not even know their fathers – much less receive the irreplaceable benefit of their guidance – we know that our community must do better.

When too many of our young people are leaving school before graduation for lives on our streets — and when unemployed young Black men have a 30 percent chance of going to prison before the age of 30 —we know that we must commit ourselves to fundamental change.

Our government has an important part to play in the rebuilding of our communities. Yet, we, ourselves, must be the critical element in this change.

Rev. David Crump understood this, both in his ministry and in his personal commitment to the young people in his life. As a result, he came to exemplify Dr. King’s insight that “We all can be great because we all can serve.”

In his love for children and his giving nature to those of our neighbors who were in need, David Crump ministered by the example of his life. Because of his life, our community is a better place.

What we take from this life will be lost when we are gone. Yet, our gifts to others will long remain, and can lift up our world.