I became a Pastor in February of 1997, almost 12 years ago. In that 12 years, I’ve learned a lot about the Scriptures, about theology, and about the methodologies of ministry. But one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned is to really love people. In one of my early pastorates, I received some advice that, had I taken it, would have in some respects stripped joy all but completely from my life. I was told never to get close to anyone. Always remember that “they” might turn on you. Never trust, never have close friends. I’m so glad I refused that advice.
Even in a leadership situation where I was hurt by many of the words of other people, God also taught me to love people without condition. When Angie and I moved to Kentucky, we fell in love with many people. We enjoyed almost eight wonderful years at Scottsville Road Baptist Church because we loved the people, and they loved us back. It made parting difficult, but God taught us so much there.
Now, living in northwest Arkansas and serving Bethel Baptist Church, we feel overwhelmed and blessed with some of the best friends we’ve ever had and one of the most loving churches in the entire world. This morning, I was reading a sermon by W. A. Criswell on love and he had these words to share…
However, eloquent we may be, however gifted, however wonderfully blessed of God with nine and ten talents, if our spirit is crude and rude and rough, if our heart is not filled with the milk of human kindness, if we’re not actuated and motivated by a wonderful care and concern for God’s fellow creatures, our eloquence is like sounding brass and clanging cymbal. Our gifts of the spirit are nothing and our very philanthropies fall to the ground.
I want to challenge every Pastor, every leader, every fellow human being reading this post to remember to love people. Open up, take the risk, make a connection, trust someone, show affection and appreciation, and lavish upon yourself the joy of loving others, beginning with Jesus Christ.