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Pastor Interview

What's the role of a Pastor?  

Jesus is the Good Shepherd of the church.  He loves and leads the church through the Holy Spirit.  Pastors are under-shepherds who are used by Jesus to care for the members of God's flock.  My role as Pastor includes preaching and teaching, helping people to follow Jesus, helping them love one another, ministering to their needs, and reaching out into the world with Christ's love.  Loving and caring for people as Jesus cares for them is my primary role as a Pastor.  As Jesus called his disciples friends, I too must be a friend to the members of the church. 

Did you ever imagine you'd be a Pastor?

When I was a little boy our Pastor, Woodrow Robbins, would offer a similar invitation each Sunday.  He would say, "there might be some young man or boy here today that God is calling to be a preacher."  I would look around and wonder who it might be.  After several months of wondering, I began to wonder if it might be me.  After several more months I became convinced it was.  At ten years old I answered the invitation one Sunday and made a commitment to become a "preacher".  As I grew up, God's call grew with me.  Even when I doubted that call, God remained true.  Throughout seminary years and the first years out of seminary I served on church staffs.  Finally, on August 1, 1992, I became Pastor of my first church, Faith Baptist Church in Faith, NC.  It was a small Baptist Church like I had dreamed of as a boy.

Who were some of the mentors that you had?

My Pastor and Youth Minister when I was growing up were some of my first mentors.  Woodrow Robbins modeled preaching and Pastoral Ministry for me while Rev. Vernon Frank provided counsel and encouragement as I sorted through God's call. Rev. Fred Reece helped me through a season of doubting my call to ministry while I was in college.  Later in my call to ministry, Rev. Bob Hiatt and Tony Testino were used in similar roles to mold and shape me as a minister.  These two men were my spiritual fathers in practical ministry.  They challenged and encouraged me to continue pursuing my education.  Everything God has done in my ministry has its roots in these men.  Any good thing God does through me, these men share in the credit for it getting done.  They showed me by their example, the patience and love of God in working with His people.  

What's the hardest part of ministry for you personally?

The hardest part of ministry for me is when people are hurting.  It is hard because I identify and empathize with their pain.  My philosophy of ministry is that all of Christianity is based on relationships: our relationship to God and our relationships with each other.  If I do not love you, I cannot care about you.  If I care about you, it will trouble me when you suffer.  When people hurt it often hurts me too.  As a Pastor, I must sometimes postpone dealing with my hurt for them so that God can use me to help them.  Later I will take time alone to deal with my own emotions.    

How do you handle these challenges?  

While managing these emotions can be difficult, the rewards of helping people encourage me.  Later when I am alone, I will spend time praying and expressing my feelings to God.  I find great help in pouring out my heart felt needs to God in prayer.  I simply tell Him how I feel.  If I find that I am still troubled, I sometimes will take time to talk to another pastor who will keep confidence with me.  Openly expressing my feelings to God and people I trust helps me handle the challenges of ministry.

What drives you?

People.  God loves people and I do too.  Being with people energizes me.  Laughing, serving, and partnering with people in the work of God's Kingdom is a driving factor in my life.  Again, the Christian life is built on relationships and people are the "bricks" and God's love is the "mortar" that holds it all together.  Being with people does not have to be a "religious" experience.  Just sitting around, sipping a cool drink, laughing, and talking is a part of what drives me. 

What makes you angry?

When I see someone treated unfairly, I get angry.  Most of my frustration is found in things that I have no control over. When people are treated poorly and there is nothing that can be done to correct it, I get angry.  When people are hurt by the actions of others, I believe Jesus cares.  If He cares then I should care too.  

What makes you happy?

My family really makes me happy.  Time with them is my second priority in life.  (Time with God is the first priority.)  I am happiest when I am spending time with Becky, my children, and my grandchildren.  After my family, being with people from the church and community is another source of happiness for me.  

Tell us about your wife, Becky.

Becky is the love of my life.  We met one evening at her church, Trinity Baptist.  She was the first girl I ever prayed with before we started dating.  (Most of the time I prayed before I met girls that they would date me.)  But outside under a starry, moonlit sky, in the late spring of 1974, we held hands and asked God to guide us as we got to know one another.  It was our prayer that if God wanted us together, He would show us.  And so we have stayed together now, for 40 years.  We were married on January 3, 1976 (38 years.)  She is a wonderful companion and friend.  She is a great Mom and "Nana".  She is my greatest fan and I am hers.  There is no one else in all the world like her and God has chosen me to be her husband.  I am hopelessly devoted to her.  She is the love of my life.
She works as a Pharmacy Technician at Foothills Pharmacy here in Lenoir.  For five years she serve on the Executive Board of WMU North Carolina.  Before that she served as the After School Ministry Director at Faith Baptist Church for 17 years.  She is smart, pretty, and friendly.  You will not find a better friend.  And I am very proud of her.

Tell us about your family.

Becky and I were blessed with two children; our daughter, Stacy, and our son Jason.  Stacy, the oldest is married to Erich Byrd and they have blessed our lives with three grandsons; Trevis (11), Gavin (9), and Grayson (7).  Jason is married to Andrea Shook.  They too have blessed us with four grandchidren.  Their oldest is our only grand daughter, Laurel (12). Then comes J.J. (Jason Jr. 10), Nate (8), and Charlie (4).  These are their ages on the last day of the year: 4, 7 8 9 10 11 12!  Next to God and Becky, I love them more than anyone or thing in this world.  They are the delight of my life!  
Stacy is an 8th grade social studies teacher and her husband Erich is a paramedic.  Stacy and Erich are actively involved in their church, First Baptist of Salisbury, NC.  Jason works as a mechanic for the NC Highway Patrol and his wife Andrea works for Hickory Springs.  Jason and Andrea are the volunteer youth workers in their church, Trinity Baptist of Newton. I am very proud of them!