Pastor Appreciation Month is about to come to a close. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge some pastors who have been instrumental in my journey.
When I was growing up in the United Methodist Church, Paul Kube, Bill Clarke, Milford Rollins, and Karen Whitehurst were extremely key in the early years. They gave me opportunities as a young man that most churches would not. I became a paid choir director at age 15 and preached my first church sermon at age 16. While I went a different direction theologically, I will always be grateful for their contribution in my life.
Pastor Lynn Hardaway was the first Baptist pastor that didn’t repulse me. He was my grandparents’ pastor, and he gave me the opportunity to use my musical and preaching ability there at the church. It was the first time I ever saw Baptists happy.
Pastor John Pritchard gave me my first church role as a Baptist. He and the people of Calvary were beyond good to me. I was so young and green, but I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity I had.
Pastor Jim Melton was my next pastor. Although this was an interim role, he modeled humility and steadfastness despite some horrible attacks upon him. His love and kindness remains to this day.
Pastor John Hamilton gave me a chance at a church that was a dream come true. The building was 2 years old when I got there, and was everything a choir director could have wanted. Although he left rather quickly after I got there, I’m thankful he saw some potential in me and was willing to have a hard conversation that brought me out of my shell.
Pastor Ben Glosson…there’s a lot I can say! Anyone who knows him knows he has a rough exterior. I was one among many staff members who didn’t see eye to eye with him, but he entrusted his pulpit to me roughly 75 times over a 6-year period. I don’t take that lightly, and I praise God for the opportunities to grow as a preacher of the gospel.
Pastor John McKnight gave me tremendous liberty and the opportunity to obey the Holy Spirit as a worship leader. He never micromanaged me but often encouraged me. When I was at a low place in my life, John called me to serve and experience some awesome days in music ministry.
Pastors Lynn Hardaway and John Pritchard later became two pastors who helped me navigate the path forward as a divorced and remarried guy in ministry. These guys were fundamental in the early months as I was a deer in headlights. Pastors Steve Roberson and Randy Burbank were among others who cheered me on. These guys are living proof that God doesn’t throw the clay away.
Pastor James Gibson was the first pastor who took a chance on me when I returned to music ministry as a guy headed for divorce. He assured me that I was not “uncalled” and gave me many opportunities to preach. He and the people of Maranatha were just what I needed.
Pastor Jimmy Boggs has been a long time friend. He gave me a second opportunity to serve alongside him, the second time with him as the senior pastor. Jimmy is a high-energy innovator who is all about the second chance. His friendship is also a blessing to this day.
Pastors Josh Ratliff, Mark Wilson, and Tim Engelsman were the best during my days in the Wesleyan church. I never got to serve with Josh, but he was a friend when I needed it most. I did, however, get to serve with Mark and Tim. They all affirmed my call to ministry and let me know that the best is yet to come.
I could go on and on with other names. Some of these have popped in and out over the years. Guys like Andy McDaniel, Tim Tate, and Alan Bagwell who gave me a chance to preach during my lean years when others tossed me to the side. Men like Clarence Dalrymple who will call just to check in and are available for wise counsel. And I definitely can’t leave out Dustin Hutto. He was a choir member and friend before he was ever a pastor. I have never laughed so hard with another pastor in all my life. He has been a friend through thick and thin.
Which pastor(s) has God used in your life? Give a shout-out to God for using these individuals in your growth.