Sunday Morning Coffee: Pastors

I Peter 5:4. “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

Of course, we have no true idea what the crown of glory will look like!

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple of days about the pastors in my life. I’ve been blessed.

I’m not in church this morning–again–because of back pain and lack of sleep. So I’ve had time to consider today’s post, which is closely related to my present study in I Peter 5: 1-3. The last verse, which I should have included in that passage, is v. 4. It is addressed to the elders, pastors, bishops–words that are used interchangeably in relation to the church.

An elder, bishop, or pastor, if he has been faithful and godly, will receive a crown of glory when Jesus hands out rewards to His people. The Bible says we will cast those crowns at His feet (Rev. 4:10-11) because only He is worthy of such glory and honor.

The first pastor I remember is Orville Peterson, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fairmont, Minnesota about 70 years ago. His love for my mom and dad had a profound influence, changing my dad’s life and directing him into ministry himself. I don’t have any clear memories of his preaching, but they remained family friends for many years.

The second man I remember better. Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters, Fourth Baptist Church, Minneapolis. I was five when we first attended there. He baptized me when I was eight. Again, no clear memories of his preaching during those years, except that the adults loved his sermons and said “Amen!” a lot. The main memory I have there is the music, which has inspired me all the rest of my life. Majestic, alive, enthusiastic. It is where I first remember singing Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! and Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow! There was a big old pipe organ, and the organist wasn’t afraid to open up all the stops 🙂

When I was ten, we moved to Portland, OR, where my dad attended seminary. He became the next pastor in my life and would remain so, actively, until I went to college. He never, though, stopped being a pastor/teacher/counselor for me until he went to heaven nearly 30 years ago. And even though he is no longer present here, his love of God’s Word remains as a guiding influence for me. He had a gift for making the hard things of scripture understandable. I think he is the first one from whom I heard, “If the plain sense makes common sense, then any other sense is nonsense!”

There were others. To name each one would make this post too long. So I’m going to fly through the years and land in Sellersville, PA at Bethel Baptist Church. Pastor Richard Harris was not a dynamic man in the sense of being loud, pounding the pulpit and such. But in his quiet way, he built a ministry that reached around the world at one point. His influence sent people out as pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries and just faithful workers in churches around the world. He influenced legislation in Pennsylvania that protected Christian schools from government restrictions that would have put them out of business. He was active and influential in national and international activities. Most of all, he was a faithful soul-winner, and he loved his flock. He’s in heaven now.

Then, there is Pastor Jim Spears at Calvary Baptist in Pottstown. I think his primary personality feature is his humility. He was truly a servant leader there, and now he has retired and is doing interim pastor work wherever he is needed. He is an expositor of the scripture, digging into the meanings of words in the original languages in which they were written. The first memory I have of him is the way he shepherded people, on a blustery wet day, from their cars into the church building using his huge umbrella. He didn’t see that as doing anything special, but I sure did.

And now we have a new pastor, a young man who has been mentored by Pastor Spears for 14 years. He, too, has a humble spirit. He especially loves the teens, having worked as youth pastor for so long, and one of his goals is to bring more youth into the church.

We need to pray for our pastors, elders, leaders in the church. Women are elders, too, although they may not hold that official title. We are all teachers, often without realizing the influence we have on others. The women in the church can and should be a huge blessing to the ministry. There have been women in my life who have cared enough for me to hold me accountable in ways that I sometimes found quite uncomfortable. That’s what we need to do for each other. Not tearing down, but edifying and building each other.

Aside from those who were my pastors, I have been privileged to hear some of the greatest leaders in Christianity over the last 70+ years; those who came to my dad’s church to speak, or to my college, or to the other churches of which we have been a part. I won’t live long enough to be as aware of the new generation of leadership, but I pray that God will raise them up and strengthen them in a time when true Christianity is being seen as the biggest enemy of freedom. How the devil twists things and lies so effectively!

But that’s a topic for another day.

Love your pastor. Be the ones who hold up his arms in hard times, not the ones who tear him down.

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