So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him (Acts 8:30-31).
I cannot believe it has been three years since my earthly father passed away. I miss him dearly and think of him often as my dad.
But even more, I miss him as my “guide” and wish he could, once again, “come up and sit” with me and open the Scriptures with and to me.
That is especially true as I am serving as the interim pastor of my home congregation, First Baptist Church of Castroville. As I have the opportunity to “guide” each week, I often am reminded of my dad’s second career—after retiring from teaching and coaching—as the pastor for 27 years of Iglesia Bautista Ambler in Abilene.
He loved the church. But most importantly, he loved being the shepherd, the pastor, a guide to his church members. Weekly, I am amazed at the love and care, the patience and endurance, and the call and commitment he exhibited as a pastor.
I appreciate it even more since God has blessed me in the preaching of his word. I am energized and renewed each week, and once again so grateful for my dad’s wonderful example of serving Christ.
The call to pastor and preach is a special summons and responsibility. A faithful response to that call requires a willingness to serve and care for the body of Christ. Obviously, at times that can be very demanding and draining. Yet as I watched my dad for years, he was compelled to preach and compelled to shepherd the church.
Like Philip, God sometimes takes pastors to unusual places to have unusual encounters—God moments—which God prepared for that pastor and that church. What an incredible calling to serve, lead and guide the body and the bride of Christ.
As you start this new year, I pray you will be mindful of the shepherd God has sent to your church. Be mindful of God’s call on their life, mindful of their call to preach, and mindful of their desire to guide and be a shepherd.
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Texas Baptists are blessed to have had so many excellent preachers and pastors over the years. Maybe a wonderful pastor serves your church right now. Maybe your pastor has served faithfully. Maybe your pastor has guided you, has explained the gospel to you. Maybe God has blessed you with a wonderful shepherd.
Don’t wait for Pastor-Appreciation Month to show your gratitude. Start the year out right by thanking God he sent someone to guide you. Start the year out by telling your pastor, “I’m grateful God sent you to pastor our church.”
I am so grateful my earthly father was a wonderful example of how to pastor a church. Because of that, I have a greater understanding and appreciation for pastors in our Texas Baptist churches.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture, he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35).
René Maciel is president of Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio and first vice president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.