At age 12, Tim Shaw was an active preteen at St. Mark United Methodist Church in West Ashley. Tim didn’t mind going to church, but he told his parents often that when he grew up, he wanted to be a successful businessman. He was especially drawn to clothing and fabrics and colors.
His minister, though, seemed to see something totally different in his youthful member. The Rev. John Williams pulled the young boy aside one day and said he believed “God is talking to you. ... Do me a favor, listen.”
Shaw had no idea that decades later, that request would create a life-changing direction.
At age 30, Shaw was the peacock-proud owner of a high-end men’s store downtown, 319 King. It was the shop where stylish executives and NBA superstars sought fashion advice. Shaw knew the business, and even more, knew how to take care of a customer. He never forgot a name and knew the individual likes and dislikes of every customer he fitted.
The store’s reputation grew and grew, primarily by word of mouth. When the New York Knicks started preseason practice at The College of Charleston, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley often stopped by to see what was in the window.
When Greg Marshall’s Winthrop team first qualified for March Madness, he bought suits for his entire staff. Now that he’s making millions as the coach at Wichita State, he continues to wear 319 King’s label on the sidelines.
Shaw’s business on King Street was booming. On the outside, so was Shaw. He was successful. He’d accomplished exactly what he told his parents he wanted to do.
In 2003, Shaw, his wife and two boys were still involved in the church where he grew up. He was teaching a Sunday School class and still loved being around the church.
But there was a constant, small voice telling him to do more. So Shaw decided to embark on a second career: as a minister.
In 2006, he started a weekend course of study at Duke Divinity School. On Fridays, he would drive to Durham, N.C., and go to class from 6:30-10:30 p.m. On Saturdays, there were classes from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. He then drove back to the Lowcountry where he would preach either at Ebenezer UMC in Moncks Corner or Asbury-St. James on Rutledge Avenue.
It’s been almost 10 years. He’s still taking the courses, but he’s now the full-time appointee as minister at Asbury-St. James, one of Charleston’s oldest congregations. Oh, and by the way, he still runs the clothing store on King Street.
Shaw is excited about what’s happening in this little church in this old part of town. When he first arrived, attendance on some Sundays was in the teens. They now average 60-90 and thanks to some generous church members, the facilities are undergoing renovation. While the neighborhood rejuvenates, the little church also is trying to lift hopes and spirits.
Shaw has two sons, Timothy, 19, and Luke, 12. His wife, Tina, tries to keep up with all the schedules while Tim divides his time between clothing customers and inspiring congregants.
He once spent all of his time trying to outfit the outer man.
He now is far more occupied with speaking to what’s on the inside.
Shaw prides himself on his energy and positivity. But where would he be if he’d never taken the time to listen?
Reach Warren Peper at firstname.lastname@example.org.