One of the most influential periods of my life was the time I spent serving at Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile. While in college, I served as the Pastoral Intern. Then, after graduation, I became the Minister to College Students. I often think back on my time there and have a recurring thought: “Man, I made 10 million mistakes.” However, immediately after that I think this thought: “Those people loved me anyway.” My pastor, Clint Pressley, and that whole church took a risk and gave a 20 year old kid a shot at serving in their church. Even when I messed up, they were patient and loving and helped develop me as a minister.
Something similar happened to me when I became a pastor for the first time. My first pastorate was at Sunnyside Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, KY. They made a risky decision and called the youngest pastor they had ever called to come to their church. They loved Whitney and I, and when Ama-Watts came along they loved her too. They helped me learn, forgave my mistakes, and have loved us even after leaving.
Now, as I pastor here at FBC, the ministry of those two churches has stuck with me. They both affect my ministry every day. When I love the Lord’s people, I remember where I learned to love them. When I shepherd God’s people, I remember where I learned to shepherd. And when I make mistakes, and see those mistakes, I am reminded of our Christ who gifts His churches from the Alabama Gulf Coast to the hills of Kentucky and beyond to love pastors who make mistakes. And even now, as I serve a church with the same attitude, it is a blessing to see the love of our Lord poured out by His people.
The examples of Dauphin Way and Sunnyside have stuck with me. Their commitment to developing future pastors shaped my ministry. To this day, I believe that one ministry every church can have is a ministry to future pastors. If you have a young, inexperienced minister at your church take every effort to love him and serve him and help him become the best minister he can be. Love, don’t beat, the inexperience out of him. Trust me, if you love him in the early days of his ministry, you will have affected his ministry forever!
I am writing this at my desk in my study here at First Baptist. I am not the first man to pastor this church, and I know what an amazing stewardship it is to lead this great congregation. At times, it can seem daunting. However, as I think about my ministry in the future, I think this thought: “I have made 10 million mistakes, and I bet I will make 10 million more, but God bless churches who minister to their ministers by loving them through their mistakes.”