I went to the United Kingdom to serve other pastors and Christ’s church. Yet, in God’s kind providence, I feel I was served the most. This came at the hands of a few older, seasoned, and faithful pastors who were in the trenches of pastoral ministry before I was born. What a rare gift these men are to the church and I was able to sit at the feet of a few and learn. Here are a few lessons learned while hearing about their ministry and, most importantly, watching their life.
The importance of living a life of prayer. I was struck by not just how often these men prayed, but how they prayed. They prayed in such a way that it felt like they took you to the very presence of God with their words—a reflection that they truly walked with God. I want to pray like that.
A core disposition to walk with God. They constantly stressed the need to make sure you as a pastor are always focused on walking with God and to give the time each day to do so. I need to do whatever I must to make sure I am wholeheartedly engaged in walking with God. The moment that takes a back seat to even the valuable work of the ministry, I will be no good for my people. The most powerful lesson learned from this was to see the effects in the life of these men walking with their Savior all these years.
The essential task to shepherd your family. This was already important to me, but it was reaffirmed in a new and fresh way. Especially, in the home of Austin Walker who has pastored Maidenbower Baptist Church for 40 years and has 4 grown children walking with the Lord. One of his sons even pastors with him. He is quick to acknowledge it is God that awakens and calls sinners. Having said that, he would attribute this work of grace and awakening that God has done to the steadfastness of training his children all those years. I took note and was deeply impacted.
Be a zealous evangelist. The deliberateness of these pastors’ efforts to share the gospel throughout the week was stunning. Whether it was going to nursing homes to talk to whomever they saw or standing on the street corner preaching in the town square, these men were bold to evangelize. I was inspired and humbled to make sure I am not just preaching the gospel faithfully on Sunday, but every day of the week.
Intensely labor to know and love your people. A great reminder to never stop getting to know your people, even those you know well. Work hard to know the names of those you do not know and work just as hard to increase your closeness with the pillars in your church. Derek Prime always kept a notebook in his pocket and wrote names down as people left the church after the service. Then he prayed for them that next week to remember their names. Awesome! I am buying a little notebook this week.
Dear brothers and fellow pastors, I write these few lessons I learned with hopes you will benefit from my time with these incredible men. If you have an older seasoned pastor in your life, treasure them as more valuable than silver or gold. They have set the standard and laid the path we should desire to walk to faithfully guard the gospel and shepherd God’s people in our generation.