Yesterday my friend Mary Hugill (whose blog I neglected to link to is here . Be sure to read her “About” page — she’s done a great job explaining what a “doctrinal ministry” is) allowed me to post some thoughts she’d shared with me about the importance of positive volition and God’s provision in a time of confusion regarding one’s right pastor teacher.
I loved every word of it, but of course I have some thoughts, as well, these more along the lines of my personal experience which backs up and illustrates some of Mary’s conclusions. (I, unlike Mary, have been involved in doctrinal ministries for over 35 years). Here’s my response:
You’re right, Mary, about the Pastor Teacher being a gift, not something you have to “figure out.” As for having a list of pastor/voices to choose from, I don’t think at the moment that there is such a list, even though there have been several pastors teaching from Pastor Bob’s pulpit. But that’s the key. When each of them is teaching from PB’s pulpit, I love their messages. I am rivetted. God speaks to me. But awhile back one of them taught down here at someone’s house, totally outside of Pastor’s Bob’s authority, and I could hardly pay attention. My mind wandered constantly, I kept disagreeing with things, having to rebound, asking God what was wrong with me… When I got home I felt like I hadn’t been fed and had to put on a lesson from PB. I felt no leading whatsoever to attend the second session they had scheduled and did not.
For awhile I felt guilty, even though I was pretty sure I was being shown that he is not, at the moment, my right PT. As an affirmation, at a conference last summer, that same pastor shared in a Q&A that when he first heard Pastor Bob, he couldn’t listen to him. Col Thieme was still his pastor. I believe it wasn’t until the Colonel retired that this pastor switched to Pastor Bob. So that affirmed for me my own situation.
All the men trained by Pastor Bob and speaking behind his pulpit at his behest and from his notes are pretty much extensions of Pastor Bob in my mind. They provide embellishment, a new angle of view, elaboration, etc., so I value their voices for the context they provide for the general messages that God the HS is pouring out through PB. But eventually they’ll have to leave. Keeping them at GBC is like keeping your 30-year old son at home answering to Mommy. They were given their gifts to go out and really use them, not to teach from another man’s pulpit but to be pastors fully in their own rights with all the pressures that go with the job. Would God then move me to their ministry? Maybe. My inclination would be to say no, but I know that my inclination is not a reliable source of information.
Which brings me to my second experience, wherein God moved me from Col Thieme to Pastor Bob. At the time, I had no interest whatsoever in leaving the Colonel, who I’d studied under for close to 25 years. I didn’t even want to listen to the tapes of Pastor Bob’s lessons that my friend had brought and did so only at her strong insistence and with the intention of only listening to a little bit (which is usually all I can do with someone not my pastor anyway). But of course, everything came alive when I heard him, and I couldn’t stop listening.
Starting the day I heard Pastor Bob, I never listened to Col Thieme again. It had nothing to do with not liking Col Thieme– he was a fabulous Bible teacher; he trained Pastor Bob and ordained him — but everything to do with the fact that I HAD to hear the next message in Pastor Bob’s series. I hung on his every word, took copious notes, my mind never wandering even once. It was very much like what had happened when I first heard doctrine — so compelling I couldn’t NOT listen.
Pastor Bob is still my pastor. Whoever he assigns to teach behind his pulpit I will listen to and learn from. I love those younger guys and get distressed to think of any of them leaving, but as I said, it has to happen. Maybe then I would be switched to one of those men. Maybe eventually I’ll be moved on to the man I couldn’t listen to in that home Bible study, which would be funny, and fit with the pattern God’s worked in my life of unexpected turns. Or it might be Pastor Bob til the rapture, which at this point is fine with me. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. It’s part of God’s provision and I know that when He switches you, He does it and you don’t have to worry about it.
Endnote: Mary’s and my exchange occurred last week right before Pastor Bob returned to his pulpit. Since then, I have to say, his lessons have been rich, exhilarating and convicting. As always. Today’s though, as God the Holy Spirit answered one of my questions of the day through Pastor Bob’s words, was particularly sobering. Maybe I’ll talk about that tomorrow…