I tried to tell him.
“Aw, Steve, you don’t want me to blog for Pooped Pastors. Who cares what I have to say? … And I really have too much on my plate anyway. Get somebody else to do it, OK?”
That conversation, or variations on the theme, recurred several times over the last few years. (Steve seems to be under the illusion that I actually do have something to say, and the ability to articulate it. I’ve tried to disabuse him of this notion, but I’ve failed. Matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever won a single argument with him.) Finally, last October when Steve came down to preach at our church, I ran out of excuses and, in a moment of temporary insanity (after an evening of bar-hopping), gave in.
Fine. Steve – Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
A brief intro is in order, as I doubt many of you will know me. I am the pastor of Kendall Presbyterian in Miami. I’m married to Heidi – best wife I’ve ever had – father to Christy, Andrew, Allison Savannah and Charissa. And since there are no photos attached to our blogs, you should also know I’m by far the best-looking of all the bloggers.
Sort of like being the tallest of the Seven Dwarves ….
Now, on the slightly more serious side: I got to know Steve when he hired me to be his youth pastor at Key Biscayne Presbyterian back in 1984. We worked together almost seven years, and during that time I learned a lot of very valuable lessons about preaching, pastoring, leadership, life in the church and life in general. Those of you who know Steve, and I assume that’s most of you or you wouldn’t be reading this, can maybe imagine how invaluable that seven-year period has been for me.
(Those of you who do know me may well be wondering: Then why aren’t you better at all those things? A fair question. My best response is: Just imagine how much worse I’d be if it wasn’t for Steve’s mentoring influence on me.)
Now, I could relate a ton of events and episodes, conversations and communications of that seven-year “apprenticeship,” things that have stayed with me over the years, and you might enjoy reading about them. But this really isn’t just a stroll down Memory Lane, nor an attempt to convince Steve he should’ve listened to me this one time.
You know he’s cringing right now, don’t you?
No, keeping in mind I’m writing primarily to fellow pastors, I want to relate one seemingly pretty insignificant conversation that happened early on in my time at Key Biscayne Presbyterian.
One Saturday, after working in my office in the morning I had gone back to my apartment for lunch. I called back to the church office looking for my buddy and co-worker Jary Reed, our children’s ministry director. (This was in the late Paleozoic Era before we were all born with cell phones.) Steve answered the phone, as he liked to do on Saturdays just to shake people up who weren’t expecting The Voice to answer. I asked if Jary was in his office. Steve put me on hold, buzzed Jary’s extension; no answer. Steve picked me back up and said Jary wasn’t in his office.
I said OK, he must be in the Youth Room. The Youth Room was on the second floor of our CE building … about as far from the Admin building as it could be and still be on the same property. There was no intercom system. There was also no elevator.
So, before I could say it was no problem, I would just go find Jary when I got back to the office, Steve said:
“You want me to go get him for you?”
This was not something I expected, the Boss Man asking the lowly New Youth Guy if he wanted him to go find the even lowlier Children’s Guy all the way up in the (lowly) Youth Room.
I came to the church after serving five years with Ft. Lauderdale Youth for Christ. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when working with Steve, but I figured if it was too bad I could always go back. In my role with YFC I had met most of the evangelical pastors in Ft. Lauderdale and many in Miami. I had been privileged to serve on the steering committee of the Billy Graham Crusade in Ft. Lauderdale and had therefore been in meetings with most of the movers and shakers in South Florida churches.
I tried to imagine some of them giving me the same response – “You want me to go get him for you?” – and somehow, I just couldn’t see most of those other Big Guns offering to do that.
• “I’ll tell him you called,” sure.
• “If I see him I’ll let him know you’re looking for him,” no problem.
• Possibly even, “You interrupted my valuable study time to ask me that?”
All you youth pastors out there, and recovering youth pastors as well – you know exactly what I mean. But to actually offer to get up from the chair, leave the inner sanctum and go where pastors fear to tread … this I did not expect. I mean, what did he think he was, a servant or something?
And that, brothers and sisters, is what I want to say in this, my first – and quite possibly only – Pooped Pastors blog. We try hard to preach great sermons. We strive to be strong, positive, godly leaders. We want to help our churches become healthy, grow, and make disciples. I want to do all those things, too.
What I want to remind all of us, this blogger included, is that sometimes it is in the smallest, seemingly most incidental things – a word, an act, an offer of servanthood – that we may make an indelible impact. I really try to remember not so much just Steve’s example, but the way he reminded me of Jesus’ words and example:
Mark 10:42-45: 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
So, brothers and sisters, I’ve enjoyed writing my first and likely last blog here at Pooped Pastors. If I have impressed upon you the importance of remembering that we are servant leaders, that we follow One who did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, I am well pleased.
And Steve – I did try to tell you.