Five godly men have served as the pastors and under-shepherds in my life over the past 24 years as a believer in Christ. Four of them have served as my pastor in the local church. Two of them were not my pastors officially, but played a major role in my spiritual growth acting as spiritual mentors and encouragers in my personal life.
I would like to pay tribute to these fine brothers and servants of Christ Jesus.
1. Dr. Ron Williams – Bro. Ron led me to Christ in VBS in 1987. He baptized me and was my first pastor until I was 16 years old. Bro. Ron and his wife Elaine and their sons Ronnie, Jameson, and Matt, were very influential in my life. Bro. Ron was an innovative Bible teacher and a beloved shepherd. He loved the New Testament and it showed up everywhere in his teaching and preaching. He eventually earned his Ph.D. in NT and has taught at Gardner-Webb University for many years.
2. Bro. Morgan Owen – Bro. Mo was my youth pastor. He served my home church throughout my high school years. He discipled me in small groups and personally in his home. He and his wife Carrol lived close to my house and Morgan would come over and play football with us in the front yard. More than anything he showed me how to be “in-love” with Jesus. His passionate commitment to Christ came through in everything he did. He is now serving as campus minister at Univ. Tenn. in Martin.
3. Dr. Ted Taylor – Once I got to college, another pastor took over in my spiritual development. I didn’t attend Dr. Taylor’s church, I attended his classes. He was my professor, advisor, life coach, and mentor. He has remains those things today. No single man has been more influential in my life than Dr. Taylor. He is my father-in-the-faith. Now he is my colleague with his office being just three doors down. We talk nearly everyday.
4. Rev. Charlie Worthy – Once in seminary, another man of God became my unofficial pastor. Again this was not a pastor of the church I attended or served at, but a man who became one of my closest friends and advisors. Charlie and I worked together at PPC and went to school together at SWBTS. He and his wife Shannon really took Jennifer and I under their wing, showing us how to be married and eventually how to be Christian parents. Charlie married us in 2002. Charlie and I spent a lot of time together in ministry and at his home over dinner. He and his family serve in Naples, Italy.
5. Pastor Robert Franklin – When I left seminary, I started my first “full-time” ministry position as the associate pastor of Main Street Church under Pastor Robert Franklin. For the first year, Pastor Bob and I shared an office. For the next 4 years, we prayed together every week on our knees before the Lord. He trained me in all things pastoral: funerals, elders, deacons, confrontation, leadership, vision, faithful stewardship, and out-of-the-box thinking. He encouraged me and called me out all the time, like a real pastor should. He will forever be my boss/pastor/friend/brother. He just celebrated 10 years as pastor of Main Street.
I am thankful to God for these men and their role in my spiritual journey. I pray I give to others as these men have given to me.