“I may not have always been a good preacher..."
I remember it quite vividly. I had been serving as the Director of Youth & Children at Mt. Bethel Baptist for a half-year or so when Pastor Reece stepped into my office. “Brian,” he said, “It’s time for me to move on.”
I was blessed in my time with Pastor Reece. We hadn’t realized it when I was hired, but my grandfather had been on the committee that ordained Rev. Reece as a young man. I’ve come to realize that such connections are surprisingly common in pastoral life. Providence has a way of making our paths cross when we’re all journeying in the same direction.
Pastor Reece was in a unique position. He had already served at Mt. Bethel once before. He had then retired, and after a year-long pastor search Mt. Bethel asked him to come out of retirement to serve again. He must have been doing something right!
On the Sunday night of his official resignation, he spoke to the church and I remember his words to this day. “I may not have alway been a good preacher, but I hope I was always a good pastor.” It would be a few years before I really understood what he meant.
Sometimes, when people ask me about pastoral life, I tell them that Sunday is the easiest day. This is not to demean the wonder of worshipping or the serious responsibility of preaching. But I think many preachers are most fulfilled in their Sunday morning comfort zone. It is a large part of what we train for and feel called to do.
The other days of church life, however, can be tough. The word “Pastor” is straight from the Latin for “Shepherd.” Sometimes shepherds have sunny days in the field with well-fed sheep. Other days, shepherds have long nights in helping their wounded or keeping wolves at bay. A preacher’s bad sermon can be forgotten, but a pastoral failure can hurt the sheep, divide the flock, or let in the wolves.
As I look back on my nine years at Effingham Presbyterian, Rev. Reece’s words come to mind. I know for sure I haven’t always been a good preacher! But I hope that in both my successes and failures I’ve been a good pastor.
One of our Elders joked the other day that I had received my degree from Erskine, but I got my education in Effingham. I think that is very true. My family and I have been very blessed to serve with you and to be a part of this church family. I’ll take with me far more than I have given, and will cherish each moment of ministry we have shared together.
The Lord is already raising up your next pastor. I pray that he will be a good preacher and an even better shepherd. I pray that he will recognize the beautiful gift of Effingham ARP and that together, you all will see how the Lord has built this church for “such a time as this” in the Kingdom.
It has been my privilege!