A Well Plowed Field
I finished Al Mohler’s book on leadership, The Conviction to Lead today. Overall a good book, nothing earth-shattering but helpful in that he has a way of stating things bluntly and clearly. If you want to lead then you need to accept certain realities that will be yours. My take away was this, lead or don’t lead, just don’t do it half way.
As I was finishing the book today I came across a great illustration on page 192 relating a time he, as a young minister, was able to attend First Baptist Church in Dallas where Dr. W. A. Criswell pastored. At this point in time Criswell was eighty years old and still the senior pastor of the church. Mohler then writes:
Criswell had become pastor at First Baptist Church in 1944, following the death of the legendary George W. Truett. When I sat in the sanctuary on that day, Criswell had already been pastor there for over forty years. At the conclusion of the service, Dr. Criswell stood before the congregation and welcomed new members who had recently been baptized. One of them was a boy who was about twelve or thirteen years old. Criswell warmly embraced him and then faced the congregation and asked the boy’s parents and paternal grandparents to come forward and stand with the boy. The Criswell said something amazing. He introduced the boy’s father, saying, “I baptized him many years ago.” Then he introduced the grandfather and said, “And I baptized him even years before that.”
Mohler went on to observe that almost everyone at that church had only known one pastor. That is something very unique in most churches and it is something that I would love to see change. I had the privilege of sitting under the teaching and care of John MacArthur for ten years. He is still at his church and in his forty-fourth year. I too can testify to the value of having a man who stays in a pulpit for his life and plows the Word of God deep into the hearts and generations of God’s people.
I am into my sixteenth year as the pastor of my church and if the Lord is pleased it is where I will live out my days. Already I have had the joy of marrying people who were young children when I first came and now I watch them raise their own children. It is with great anticipation that I will have the pleasure of baptizing, teaching and ministering to those little ones as they continue with the church and they come to a saving trust in Jesus.
My closing thought is simply that pastors, and churches, need to give careful thought as to the value of having a qualified and committed man in the pulpit. To take a long view that spans generations. To remember that it is not “their” church; rather, it is God’s, for He purchased them with His own blood.