My first pastor, that I can remember, was Pastor Bob Benefield, at Sequoia Baptist Church. I remember him being a giant. (Of course I was five and under during those years!) He preached long services, and I remember waking up in my dad's arms on the way out of the building many times. I liked it. I loved the singing at church. To this day, when I hear the song, "There's a New Name Written Down in Glory", I think of Bro. Benefield. I used to belt that song out. I wasn't saved, but I was learning to enjoy church. I wanted to please God. Missions Conferences and Revival services were something very very special. Bro. Benefield loved the Bible, and it's a big emphasis at Sequoia Baptist. I was small, but I remember that very well. I also knew that if my mom put my hair in a side ponytail, Bro. Benefield would squat down to my level, look me in the eye, and inform me seriously that my mother had put my head on sideways. I knew he cared about me, as a pastor should care about the little ones in his church. Every time I see him and his sweet wife I still get that impression.
My next pastor was my father, Pastor Roger Margerison at Oat Valley Baptist Church. He pointed me to Christ every chance he got. He led me to a knowledge of my sin, and the saving grace of God. He baptized me. When I needed a pastor's counsel he would always drop what he was doing to put on his pastor's hat and give me his best. I knew I could count on him. He gave me a love of the study of Creation. He infected me with his curiosity in the personalities that populate the Bible, and showed me how to ask questions while I'm reading God's Word. Most importantly, I saw that he lived his faith, and God rewarded it in real, miraculous working right in front of my eyes. I wanted that same kind of relationship with God. It was under my father's pastorage that I learned to walk with God independently from my parents. That's the job of a pastor! He's to challenge every member to be right with God, and to seek out His heart on their own.
The next man who pastored me was at college. Pastor Paul Chappell is the pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church, a church that seemed dauntingly enormous to me, when I first started out my freshman year. The theme that year was "Serving God From the Heart". It's something that sank down into my heart and stayed there, and I'm still learning new truths about what it means to serve our Lord from a heart of love. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was a joy and excitement about the service of the Lord. I enjoyed all my ministries there, and learned so much by just observing the spirit. Love for God really does make a difference! This ministry stands for God without compromising, and is full of grace, love, and joy. I made so many great decisions under Bro. Chappell's preaching. I learned to bring my heart to the altar before the preaching started, to be ready to make changes in my life, and hold nothing back from God.
After college I got married and we went to serve in the church that reached my husband for Christ. Pastor Jerry Schiedbach became my pastor. He was also my employer at first, as I taught in the school while my husband worked in the offices. He's one of those fellows who just believes every single word in the Bible, and acts on his beliefs. He emphasizes God's Word, knowing it, studying it, and applying it consistently. He has a gift for study, and for teaching, and he teaches the church to study the Bible for themselves. Because of this understanding of the Bible, and the heart of God revealed in the Bible, Bro. Scheidbach has a passion for revival, walking under the control of the Holy Spirit, and having a relationship with God that is clear of offense. He and his wife are also two of the most "real" people you will ever meet, and he is a fearless preacher, pastor, and friend to my husband and I. The kind of friend who will give you what he believes you need, even if it sometimes hurts! If you sit under his preaching you will be convicted of the seriousness of a lack of revival, of any sin you might be cherishing in your life. You will be challenged to get right with God, to start spending time building a relationship with God, and to begin going to battle in prayer and in service, as a Christian ought to. I made some things right with God as a result of Bro. Schiedbach's preaching, some things I'd been ignoring for a long time, and it still influences me to today to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
I know there are charlatans and wolves out there, fleecing the flock. God will judge them, but I've been privileged to be pastored by four of God's shepherds, and here is some things I've learned about pastors, from my own experiences.
- God's shepherds don't do it for the people, or the money, or the fame, they do it for Christ.
- They are willing to help you if you are hurt, abused, in sin, in jail, or just need a shoulder to cry on, no matter what time of day or night it is.
- Sometimes when they help you, it smarts. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend..."* A man called "pastor" who won't confront your sin doesn't love you with Christ's love, and is not one of God's men.
- They are courageous. They are on the front line of attack, and they know they will be hurt by people they love and pray for, but they keep right on keeping on, eyes on Christ, Who did the same thing for us.**
- They are human, and they make mistakes. Not one of the men who have pastored me were sinless, neither were their families! The outrage! That's it. The church is full of hypocrites, so I quit. (Tongue in cheek there.) Pastors have to deal with the burden of people who expect them and their families to be paragons of righteousness. It takes guts, and grace to deal with that!
- They are accountable to God personally for what they teach out of the Bible, and how they comport themselves in God's church. If I have a bad attitude about my pastor, because of a fault I see in him, or because I'm feeling convicted for a sin in my life, Hebrews 13:7*** says he will give account to God with grief, and if he does, it will be unprofitable for me! That sounds like I have an account to make too, doesn't it? I want those men to have joy when they give account, seeing that God used them in my life, and that God did great things.
If you have a real pastor, one of God's men, thank the Lord for him today, and let your pastor and his wife know that you appreciate them!
*Pro 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
**Heb 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.***Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.