It is helpful for pastors to look back and recall the impact of the people who personally invested in them, who spoke God’s word to them and taught them about ministry. I remember receiving a phone call early one cold November morning with the sad news that my dear friend and pastoral mentor, Jackson, had been killed in a head on auto collision with a drunk driver. Jackson and I had a very special friendship. Jackson planted and pastored Dayspring Fellowship Church for over thirty years and was a model of faithfulness, endurance, and steadfast love to a single flock over that time. I always told others that Jackson was the man I wanted to be when I grew up. He set the bar for me and was a model of the kind of pastor I want to be.
My last conversation with Jackson took place about a month before he died. I was on my way to conduct the funeral of a dear woman in our church who was two months shy of her 107th birthday. I called Jackson to say hello and just to hear his voice again. Typically I would call for counsel and advice, but this time for some reason, I felt led to call him and see how he was doing and thank him for being my friend and mentor I said to him:
Jackson, I have no difficult situation to mention to you. No advice to seek. I just wanted to see how you were doing and how Barbara was recovering from her surgery. I also just wanted to say how grateful I am for you and all you have done to teach and invest in me. You have impacted me as a man, husband, father, and pastor more than you will ever know. You and your pastoral example are a gift from God to me. Thank you for your friendship and all you have done!
Looking back, I now see the kindness of God in leading me to make that call! Our sovereign and good God who numbers our days before we live a single one (Ps. 139:16) knew what I did not—this was the last conversation this side of eternity I would have with Jackson. Thinking about this conversation and the events that followed is a great motivator to me today to continually remember the others who set an example for me and to regularly take some time out of my schedule to honor them.
It’s not hard to give them a call or send an email and say thank you. Let me encourage you to do this today to whomever is on your mind right now. You won’t regret it! Don’t assume you will have tomorrow to do it.