Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Passing the Torch--Part I

I’m a little bit behind here, but a couple of weeks ago, JD asked people to write a blog post themed “passing the torch”, sharing with everyone about a minister who has been influential in their lives.

I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tell you about a couple of men of God in my life. The first is a man that I went to college with at Henderson State University down in Arkadelphia, AR. His name is Jim Buie. He’s a few years older than me…but he took his time going through school, taking a year off here, or a semester off there…so even though he’s about five years older than me, we were in school together for most of my own four-year college career.

Jim was (and still is) the preacher at our church there in Arkadelphia. One of the very first things he did for me was change the way that I view preachers. I know that sometimes as we sit and listen to these godly Christian men preach from the perfect Word of God week after week after week, it’s hard not to think of them a little bit differently. We might come to expect more from them, putting them on some sort of a pedestal, so to speak.

But for the first time in my life, my minister was my peer. He was someone that I spent a lot of time with. He was my friend. (I’d never really been friends with a preacher before. Not really, you know; they were just these men, older than my parents, who got up each week and told me how to better live according to God’s Word.) But as his friend, I got to know a little bit of the struggles that he faced as a minister to a congregation.

As his friend, I was also blessed that I got to see his generous heart. As often as he had the chance, he’d share his material blessings with others.

But more than anything, I was blessed and encouraged by seeing his dedication to the Lord. I believe what’s left the biggest impression on me is the way that he allowed God to control his life and his plans, in order that God might use him. You see, Jim didn’t set out to be a minister. In fact, although he grew up going to church, he didn’t even become a Christian until he was about nineteen years old! Jim was a music ed. major, and his plan was to become a band director! And a fine band director he would’ve made, I’m sure! But God had other plans…so when God seemed to be calling Jim into ministry, Jim changed his plans. He changed his major and took some time off to focus more on ministry.

I’m not certain, but I believe within several months of becoming a Christian, he was acting as a sort of youth minister to some of the high school kids at the church he attended. A few months after that, another church in town was in the process of looking for a new preacher. They would have men in town occasionally on the weekends, trying out for the position, if you will. But they asked Jim to fill in for them on the weeks when they didn’t have someone in town.

That was ten years ago. Jim is in their pulpit today, still preaching. I don’t do as good of a job of keeping up with him as I should. We text occasionally. I usually see him a couple of times a year. We usually counsel a week of church camp and a weekend retreat each year, where I get to see him pour himself out in ministering to kids...seems to me that’s what he’s really got a heart for.

Despite the fact that I don’t talk to him as often, or spend as much time with him, or even get to hear him preach often anymore, I continue to be blessed by the example this brother of mine has set, submitting to God’s will for his life.

Thanks, Jim, for passing that on.

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