Lillian Hinds has been pastor of Meadow Oaks Baptist Church in Temple eight years. She shares her background and thoughts on ministry with the Baptist Standard’s “Deep in the Hearts of Texans.” To suggest a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated minister to be featured in this column or to apply to be featured, click here.
• Where else have you served in ministry, and what were your positions there?
This is my first and only church since graduating from seminary. While I was a student at Truett Seminary, I worked as music minister at Bruceville Baptist Church in Bruceville and as music minister and Bible teacher at First Baptist Church in Evant.
• Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Houston and in Springfield, Mo.
• How did you come to faith in Christ?
My father pastored a Baptist church in Houston, and I was saved at the age of 11 at a revival.
• Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
Bachelor of arts in psychology—University of Texas at Tyler
Master of science in psychology—University of Texas at Tyler
Master of divinity—George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University
• Why do you feel called into ministry?
I felt God’s urging to serve him while I was a teenager, and again as a young adult. Then I heard God’s voice calling me to preach.
• What is your favorite aspect of ministry? Why?
Preaching is my very favorite thing in the world; next would be baptizing. As the old song says, “I love to tell the story,” and preaching is sharing the story of God’s love brought to us through Jesus. It is exhilarating!
Baptism is such a perfect picture of Christ’s death and resurrection and how we follow him there.
• What one aspect of congregational life gives you the greatest joy?
Eating meals together is a joyful time in our congregation. It reminds us that Jesus comes to us in the routine things of our lives and that he comes to us when we are together. He has called us to serve, so when we serve each other at mealtime, make sure everyone has enough, help those with small children or who cannot serve themselves, and clean up afterward, I believe we see and live what Jesus has for us to do in this world. We sense the sweet Holy Spirit while we participate in these fellowship meals.
• How has your ministry or your perspective on ministry changed?
My perspective has changed with regard to the role of the pastor. I didn’t start pastoring until I was 55 years old. Before that time, I held jobs that were heavily dependent on my leadership skills. As a pastor, I’ve had to learn—and appreciate!—what it means to work with and listen to others in decision-making and leadership. The Holy Spirit seems to be more interested in our openness to his leading than in our “getting it right” or our imagined successes. Rather than the CEO model, I have tried to embrace the role of shepherd to this group of sheep that in actuality belong to Jesus, the Shepherd of us all.
• What would you change about the Baptist denomination—state, nation or local?
It is difficult to change a belief that you have held closely for many years. Those beliefs are comfortable to live with, and none of us enjoys challenging them.
But when God calls a woman to ministry and we as Baptists deny that call, what are those women supposed to do? Ignore God and submit to culture? When Peter and the apostles were given strict orders never again to teach in Jesus’ name, they responded, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29).
My prayer is that Baptists would open their hearts to the word of God and realize God has called women in the past—Huldah, Lydia, Phoebe, Priscilla, Junia—and that he continues to call them today.
• Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
Jerry Thorpe preached a youth revival at my church when I was a teenager. As a PK—preacher’s kid—he cared about other PKs. We became friends, and he encouraged me through some very dark times in my life. We remain friends today.
It is difficult to pick out one or even a few of the professors at Truett Seminary. I came to Truett with a rigid and hard way of reading the Bible. My faith was uncomfortable and pretty miserable. Gradually and lovingly, those men and women of God opened the word of God to me. They gave me new ways to read the Bible, helped me explore my faith and encouraged me to grow in the Lord. They never turned aside when I asked the hard questions and prayed with me during those struggles. They continue to encourage me today in ministry.
Marcy Mynatt joined my congregation five years ago. She is a minister with many years of experience who was transplanted from South Carolina to Texas. She is humble, wise, hard-working and a lot of fun! She has taught me so much, and when I start to get off track, she thumps me on the head and reminds me what we’re all doing here. Marcy is not only a mentor in ministry, but a dear friend as well. I can’t imagine doing this without her.
• Name some of your favorite books (other than the Bible) or authors, and explain why.
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom—I read this book as a teenager, and seeds of faith were planted in my heart. Corrie’s faith was challenged at the most basic level in Ravensbruck concentration camp. After the war, she was challenged yet again to forgive, to love her enemies and to preach the good news of Jesus around the world. This story continues to challenge me today to forgive, to love enemies and to keep my focus on the good news of Jesus, first and always.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee—This is one of the best fiction books I’ve read. The themes of innocence, hate and prejudice are running throughout the story. It reminds me that none of us is immune to hatred and none of us is exempt from fighting it.
Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright—Reading this felt like a step backward toward the fundamentals of our faith. I realized we have added a great deal of culture to our practice and have ignored significant biblical passages. As a result I try to partition what I do—and what our church does—that is culture and comfortable and what is gospel and necessary. This book spurned me to read other books by Wright.
Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges—I initially read this book because Uncle Jerry sent me a copy. Then I discovered that while I believed in salvation by grace, I was trying to live the Christian life by my own efforts and merits. Grace became a new theme for my life and for my preaching.
• What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
I learned this passage as a child—in the King James. It always has been a glorious reminder of the sovereignty of God, his love and his ability to keep me, no matter what, because of his great love!
• Who is your favorite Bible character (other than Jesus)? Why?
While still in seminary, I preached a sermon on Hagar, Sarah’s slave, and she continues to go with me in my ministry. In the eyes of the world, she was at the bottom of the heap—a woman, a slave, a Gentile. From a human perspective, her life was pointless and hopeless. But God sought her, loved her, actually made promises to Hagar. She had a hope and a future, not because of her circumstances or even how the people of God treated her, but because of the Lord God and his purposes. She was a wonderful example of Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
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