Pastors Who Have Impacted Me
While we wait for the start of the upcoming divorce series, I thought it would be nice to talk about the pastors who have been a big influence in my life. These guys are in no particular order, I’m just listing them as they come to mind. No pictures, unfortunately!
Bill Morris. He’s the first preacher I ever remember sitting under. I’d have to ask, but I think he was an interim pastor at my home church, First Baptist Church Dayton, TN when I was very, very small. I think he was also a former pastor of the church as well. He was a family friend and a bear of a man. He went to be with the Lord a while back. His stature and character have always stuck with me to this day, and when I think of how a pastor carries himself, this is who I think of.
Patterson Ellis. He was the pastor of my home church all through my elementary years up until 5th or 6th grade. He’s the first preacher that I remember listening to. “Preacher Ellis” could command the attention of even an inattentive 4 year old. I used to play “preacher” on my great-grandmother’s front porch, and it was him I copied. He was the one I first asked how one becomes a Christian.
J. Milton Knox. “Bro. Milton” has been my pastor at FBC-Dayton since 6th grade, and he, along with my youth pastor, is the one most directly responsible for my spiritual formation throughout high school. He patiently endured my intrusions into his time and space to ask questions about the faith and ministry. If not for him, I likely would not be in ministry today but back home helping my dad run his electrical contracting business. He helped me sort out what God was doing in my life during a time when most teens are worried about zits, popularity, and college.
Rick Markum. “Bro. Rick” was my youth pastor and a man I greatly admire and respect for his willingness to put up with us fiesty teens! It was under his ministry that I was saved and answered the call to ministry. He faithfully loved and served me and other teens during times when we were being plain stupid, times when we should have shut up and listened, and times when we outright rebelled against him, our parents, our church, or our school. He faithfully discipled us whether the results were there or not, and his commitment to us still resounds in me today. Rick is now at Morris Hill Baptist in Chattanooga.
Scott Dawson. This is the “youth evangelist” from Alabama under whose preaching I was saved during a youth retreat to Gatlinburg my freshman year of high school. An engaging preacher and dynamic personality, Scott was a sought-after speaker in the ’90s. I definitely would not be writing this today if he had not harvested the seeds Bro. Rick and Bro. Milton had planted in me!
Billy Graham. It was he who formed much of my Christian worldview after I was saved. I devoured his books and still have them back home in Tennessee. The humility of which he is an example is something I’ve sought to emulate ever since.
Charles Stanley. Another preacher whom I listened to regularly and read. Stanley was the kind of preacher I wanted to be. I learned a great deal about how to preach just from watching his show 3 or 4 times a week. He also taught me basic Baptist theology and Christian living through his preaching and books. In fact, his book The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life was a big help in moving me away from the Pentecostal nonsense most of my high school Christian friends were into. That book and several discussions with Bro. Milton sealed the deal on my own intensive study of Spirit-baptism back then.
Johnny Hunt. Wow. Wow. WOW. Wow. Wow. You can’t really say much more than that. Johnny is one of the most fiery preachers I’ve ever had the privilege to listen to. His passion for preaching is something I’ve prayed for daily. The two years I spent as an intern at his church (FBC – Woodstock, GA) were two of the most profitable years I’ve ever had. Often I wish I’d stayed there when my boss there offered me a job. The opportunity to sit and learn under Pastor Johnny was very, very desirable! But God had other plans, and the fruit is seen in my daughter Grace!
Timothy Bender. He is my current pastor. Senior Pastor of Lousiville Baptist Deaf Church, Pastor Tim has been not only my pastor but my mentor in all things Deaf ministry. He is one of the most gracious, humble men I have ever met. Everything I know or have learned about Deaf ministry is directly attributable to him. I have been able to run my observations by him; he has taught me how to preach to a Deaf audience, how a Deaf-led church works, how to teach Deaf people, and many other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. I’ve been able to watch as he has handled difficult situations, disciplined people, shepherded the church and countless other things small-church pastors do. Everything I’ve learned from the previous pastors in this list reach their culmination in the ministry of Pastor Tim to me these past 10 years. Gosh, has it really been that long?!?!? Since Fall of 1999, it has! Any success the Lord grants me in ministry I will trace directly to my time under him.
Wow, seems I went chronologically here. These men represent the most direct influences to me as a pastor. Perhaps next time I’ll talk about some of the books that influenced me up to this time. Til then, stay tuned!