And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves. – 1 Thessalonians 5.12-13
From the very start of the church God has put spiritual leaders in place to pastor us and teach us and guide us and protect us and equip us for the ministry. It is easy to take them for granted. It is even easy to be overly critical and not to appreciate them. Paul says however that we are to recognise them and highly esteem them in love.
I have been a few churches, but two men stick out as having a special pastoral role in my life.
My first real close spiritual mentor was ‘Preacher’ Haynes Watson. His wife was ‘Granny’ Martha Watson. They were from the Bristol, TN area and we worked with them at the East Chattanooga Baptist Tabernacle in Chattanooga. TN. Mary and I were there as students and we were able to be involved in all kinds of ministries.
They did so much for us. We cut our ministry teeth under their tutelage. Here we are about 35 years on and I still remember so much that they taught us. They were not afraid to be human and not afraid to let us see their flaws. There was no measure of pride in them. Preacher was a tough southern good ole boy, but he was full of love and tenderness. Preacher and Granny taught me the valuable lesson that pastor does not equal perfect and so many other lessons.
My pastor for the last thirty years or so has been Greg McLaughlin. What first impressed me about Pastor was his exposition of scripture. When we were in involved in an unfortunate situation at the church were attending we joined our current church. Pastor allowed us to get involved in all sorts of ministries. Believe it or not he is not perfect either, but he is faithful and loving and a great teacher. When the Lord directed our hearts to Ireland he was full of support and presided over my ordination and our commissioning. He has faithfully stood with and behind us over the last twenty years as we have served here in Ireland. We don’t always agree about everything, but he is my pastor and I praise God for his role in our lives.
Our pastors are to be recognised and highly esteemed in love. They are human, but they are the men God put in place to help and guide and shepherd and feed us. Praise God for them and for these two men and others who have played a part in making me the man I am.