There are men who have entered our lives, who have had such a profound impact that it either altered our life’s course or changed the way we think about the world. My dad comes to mind. Brian Millar, my medieval English literature professor, was another. I am sure you have yours, too – the football coach, the Sunday School teacher or a work supervisor. But I dare say none of us can exclude our pastors from such consideration. When I think of such men, four come to mind.
The late John Brandon led me to the Lord when I was 10 years old in the church my granddaddy helped construct prior to The Great Depression in Springfield, Tenn. I will never forget how Bro. Brandon took me in his arms, with tears rolling down my cheeks after I walked – alone – down that aisle. “What is it lad?” he asked. “I’m lost and I want to be saved,” I replied. He read John 3:16 to me. I told him I wanted Jesus to save me and be Lord of my life. He led me in the Sinner’s Prayer and my life has never been the same. That powerful, supernatural moment was the most important of my life.
I did not know until many years later that Bro. Brandon told mom that morning – in reference to me – that he thought, “We might have us a little preacher here someday.” John Brandon was a fine pastor, a former missionary to Brazil who faithfully preached God’s Word. He baptized me and never stopped loving me. The day God called him away to another church was one of the saddest days of my life.
Kyle Slater can preach with as much fire and faithfulness to God’s Word as any preacher I have ever heard. As much as his preaching had an impact on my life and the lives of the Hinkle family, the compassion he demonstrated during my dad’s prolonged illness and death was something that could come only from a person totally surrendered to God so as to become a vessel of blessing straight from heaven. The two years dad battled brain cancer, often unable to leave our home, Kyle was constantly by his side. But just as important, he was there for my mom, brother, sister and me through a profoundly sad time in our lives.
One of the great gifts God has given us is the capacity to love. Kyle demonstrated God’s love to my family in so many ways. We will forever be grateful that God sent him into our lives.
Mike Dawson, now retired, pastored a great church. First Baptist Church, Columbia, Tenn., is one of Tennessee’s most loving churches. I know because they loved me. It was amazing to see how that church reflected the personality of its pastor – and ultimately Christ. They loved me right out of the editor’s chair of the Columbia Daily Herald into the editor’s chair of The Pathway.
I consider my ordination into the gospel ministry to be one of the most important moments in my life. It was Mike who helped me understand God’s call on my life and it was Mike who preached at my ordination service. Mike challenged me to be a minister of prayer. I will never forget that and I hope that perhaps someday I can come close to the high calling that Mike lay before me.
Then there is my current pastor. It is not easy for a Tennessee Volunteer to love a Kentucky Wildcat, but Monte Shinkle makes it easy for this Tennessee Volunteer. Tender hearted and a passion for God’s Word, it is a joy to sit under Bro. Monte’s preaching. No one can tell a story as good as Monte.
He is a man who deeply cares about people. He also loves the Missouri Baptist Convention and someday someone needs to twist his arm and make him run for president (he finished an unexpired term of someone else a few years ago). His preaching during this election year, out of the book of Malachi, is some of the best I have ever heard. I am grateful he is my pastor and the flock of Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City loves him immensely.
I am sure you have had pastors make a similar impact on your lives. October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Take some time to express your love for them – and especially toward your current pastor. Thank you, pastors, for all you do. May God bless you!