I grew up attending a very conservative, fundamentalist church. It was a strong King James Version church, and there were quite a few warnings against false teaching. To give some perspective, I think John MacArthur was a little on the dodgy side for us. We wished he could get his act together and stand up for the truth.
Because it was so conservative. it’s all that some people remember. But I don’t have that luxury. I can’t forget three things:
- the way adults invested in me and cared for me
- the strong teaching
- the support my family received when the marriage of my parents ended
I spoke at a meeting last week and said:
[Our] church, which was supposed to not know what to do, was there for [us] in ways that nobody could have expected. And they did this without making [us] feel like a charity case. They offered emotional support, legal support. They offered food. Mysterious envelopes of money would show up. Rides were offered. The kids were almost adopted by people in that church. Men were put on call to deal with things if the abusive dad ever showed up looking for trouble.
We never properly thanked the pastor for all he did, so this past Monday two of my childhood friends, twins by the name of Ted and Fred – also now pastors – went to visit our former pastor and his wife. We had a great time.
He gave us some advice. Two pieces of advice that surprised me: don’t neglect family for ministry, and listen to your wife. These are things we learn today, but I’ll bet he never learned them in seminary. He’s learned them through experience, though – a hard but effective teacher.
Our visit also allowed me to look ahead to what it will be like to be retired one day. I hope that, despite being an imperfect pastor as we all are, three middle-aged guys will show up someday who will sit down and tell me it wasn’t all a waste. If we were able to do that this week, I’m grateful.