Last night I had the honor to speak to the Pastor/Deacons Banquet of the Kaufman Baptist Association in Terrell. It was a wonderful night of reunions for me personally. I served in this association a number of years ago, and as I scanned the crowd I saw a sea of familiar faces. To my left were over thirty deacons and their wives from First Baptist Church of Mabank. A church I served for nearly five years. This group of guys helped me in more ways than I could recount. To my right were the deacons from FBC Terrell who serve along side my brother. I recently enjoyed a deacon’s retreat with them around the theme of “One Big Happy Family”. It was a retreat on the basic principles of church unity.
I will never forget one lesson I learned from Deacon Larry Teague. One day he pulled me off to the side and gave me some sage advice. Larry said, “Pastor, preach as long as you want.” I could hardly believe my ears. Here was a deacon that understood my passion for preaching. Instead of giving me a stop watch, he offered me freedom to explore the mysteries of Scripture in power and in depth. Then after a brief pause, Larry smiled and added “I am leaving at noon!” In fairness to Larry a pastor never had a better friend. I remember countless times sitting in his office talking through the complex issues facing our church and finding in Larry the kind of common sense and wisdom that can only come through experience and a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
God also gave me a best friend there. Ron Day was the president of the local bank and joined our church during my brief tenure. Ron was a spiritual leader, and someone a pastor could look up to. Ron had a colorful way of describing the challenges of leadership. He would often remind me that you “kiss the gorilla as long as she wants to.” In other words, sometimes you just need to “pucker up” and do what needs to be done to get the job done! Enjoying the ride is half the battle. You just hope the gorilla brushes her teeth between pastors.
I commend Kauf-Van Baptist Association for this annual event that brings pastors and their wives together with deacons and their wives. This partnership between leaders is critical for the health and vitality of the local church. I pray DOM Ernie McCoulskey will keep up the good work. Also I hope he can keep my brother John who is a pastor in his association out of trouble from time to time!