One of the reasons I love attending the Spiritual Leadership Conference in Lancaster, California is the opportunity I have to meet faithful men of God who have been in the battle for decades. As Pastor Paul Chappell celebrated his 25th year at Lancaster Baptist Church, he asked other men at the conference who have pastored the same church 25 years or more to come up to the platform. Praise the Lord for these men pictured above who have labored faithfully so that I, as a young preacher, can follow in their steps as they follow Christ. A couple of them have pastored the same church for over 50 years! These are the real heroes of today. America doesn’t need athletes, it needs more servants of God.
As I watched these men, I prayed in my heart, “Lord, forty years from now, may I still be serving You!” I sought to meet each of these pastors as best I could, thanking them for their decades of service to our Saviour.
When I think about these men, my mind goes to 2 Samuel 23 as the Bible lists David’s mighty men. I specifically think about the third man mentioned by the name of Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite.
The Bible says in verse 11, “the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.” The enemy had come and were intending to seize this piece of land. As everyone ran for their lives, Shammah stayed. “But he (Shammah) stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.” Wow! One against a whole troop! He could have said, “Everyone else left,” “The odds are against me,” “I can’t see how this will work out.” And yet, as my old college professor Bro. Mike Lester would say, “He stayed in his pea patch!”
The average pastor stays in a church for four years, the average assistant pastor stays for two. For one and a half years, an average church member faithfully attends. If they are not faithful, their stay is shorter. Those numbers can be discouraging!
And yet, God has allowed us the privilege of meeting and knowing men (and their families) who have stayed in the battle. I am sure the offer to pastor a larger church has come. The option to leave the ministry for a better paying job has presented itself. There have been enough “Philistines” in these pastors’ ministries but they remained steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Praise God for them!
May I urge you to take the time to encourage your pastor? He may just be getting started or he may have been in the battle for a while. Regardless, God has placed you and I in their lives to help them stay in the battle. Write a note, tell him you love him, show kindness to his family and be used of God to encourage a man of God to stay in the battle.