Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meeting a True Shepherd

I am up north this week enjoying Pastors Conference at Moody Bible Institute. I love Moody’s conference because they do such a good job of ministering to the pastor’s soul, whereas many other conferences I’ve been to in recent years have been all about ideological battles that have been seeking to engage the mind. To be fair, those issues are critical and important but sometimes you just need to take a break from that and let your soul just sing and soak in God’s presence. That’s how I feel at Moody.

I met a man yesterday who was sitting alone in the chapel at Moody in between sessions who was in his mid-60’s and has been a pastor for some 39 years. He was now close to retirement. He was a delightful, winsome man with a genuine spirit that you knew had been seasoned and prayed up for quite some time. His pleasant tone was surely that of a shepherd. And I thought to myself…this is what I want to look like in 25 years.

He had stories to tell of God’s goodness and grace, as well as human struggles that are naturally a part of serving in ministry. He’d seen God move in his life and ministry in so many ways. He’d seen bouts of great victory and depths of deep sin in the church over his some 40 years of ministry. No doubt his heart was a little tired but was once again getting renewed. His elders had given him a sabbatical to enjoy some peace and rest, and Moody conference was a part of that gift.

I found myself in deep admiration of this man, and before our hour long conversation ended, I told him that guys like him were heroes to 40 year old pastors like me. To see his perseverance in ministry and his heart for the church was inspiring at so many levels. And though I did not really know him I thanked him. I thanked him for running the race with faithfulness to the Gospel and to the Lord’s people. And as I thanked him, I saw tears well up in his eyes. His soft heart was wide open before me, and it was a beautiful sight. A true shepherd. A real soldier. A faithful minister. A humble man. A man of greatness, courage, and strength. I am glad I met him. I hope someday to be just like him.