Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
Hebrews 13 is a list of important things that the author wants the church to be mindful of. The author moves from the importance of loving one another to showing hospitality to strangers, remembering the prisoners and honoring marriage. Conspicuous in this list, however, is how much the author emphasizes the importance of remembering their leaders. In addition to remembering the leaders, the church is told to “have confidence” in their leaders, “submit to their authority,” “pray” for them and finally to “greet” them.
Last Sunday I was so blessed to be remembered by our church in honor of Pastor Appreciation month. Instead of talking about the importance of remembering leaders, let me recognize a few of the pastor/leaders to whom I owe a great debt.
First, I’m thankful for my father John Nordstrom. I had a front row seat to his leadership during my formative years. Thanks dad for loving mom so well and leaving me an example of what it means to be a husband. Your sermons both informed and informed the person I am today. Thanks for making our family a priority and living a consistent devotional life before me. Mom, you were equally a leader in my life. Your prayer life still speaks to me and your messages were always down to earth and practical.
Thanks to my father-in-law Robert Bentley. You gave me so many opportunities to minister when I was just a novice, and you were supportive of my early attempts at preaching. You helped me build confidence in those early insecure days. Thanks to my mother-in-law Judy Bentley for mentoring me as the assistant principal of your school and insisting on excellence.
I am grateful for the ministry of Pastor Gerald Vittitow while Melanie and I were in seminary. You also placed a great deal of confidence in me and gave me opportunities to speak into the life of your wonderful church. You influenced me most by the love you showed Melanie and I while we were poverty-stricken students. You bought us countless lunches on Sunday afternoons and made us feel like part of your family. I’ll never forget a partucular Sunday when you had no idea we were broke and you took a special offering for us that sustained us through a difficult time. You were the epitome of a loving pastor. I loved making hospital calls with you and watching the way you tenderly cared for your flock.
Thank you Pastor Jack Dabney for being a spiritual father to Melanie and I while we lived in Oklahoma. You made us part of your family and your preaching blessed us during some of the most difficult years of our lives. I’ll never forget you serving communion as a clown on retreat and the deep impact that made on my life. You nursed me back to health when I was wounded and I will always be grateful.
Thanks to Pastor L.H. Hardwick who had mentored me for the past 20 years from a distance. You helped me find a church when I had a call on my life and no place to go. You left your large church to come preach in our small church because you believed in me. You spoke words that positively affected the destiny of Christ Community Church.
Thanks to Paul Russel and Rick McNeeley for being my pastors while I was in Murphysboro. Your wisdom and insight helped steer us through both calm and troubled waters. Thank you Rick for falling in love with Christ Community Church as i did and coming to serve as their pastor. You are going to a great pastor to the most wonderful church in the state of Illinois.
Thanks to Paul Cowell for being a mentor, counselor and friend for the entire time I married into your family. It is an honor to serve the church that you founded. Finally, thank you Morris Bagwell for the legacy of love you and pastoral care that you left behind at Bethesda Christian Fellowship. I stand on your shoulders and you get credit for all the good things that God is getting ready to do in our church.
If some of you reading my post know any of these people, let them know I was talking about them. For all the unnamed teachers, mentors, and colleagues who have been leaders in my life I say thanks. I remember you, have confidence in you, submit to your authority, and pray for you. My life has been shaped by your influence.