I was answering a question recently about those who have influenced my life and ministry. As I was pondering the question, I was rather surprised by my answer.
Some would give a list of preachers, Sunday School teachers, or Bible college professors who impacted them. While some of those crossed my mind, they were not my final answer. Others may give a list of preachers they watched on television or listened to on the radio or a podcast. While some came across my mind, they were not my final answer.
Who was my final answer? Nursing home residents who listened to me preach my worst sermons from the time I was 14 until I graduated high school. Those who from my home church in Virginia (many who have passed away) who encouraged my calling and gifts. Those in the churches I served who followed my leadership, even when my leadership was not at its best. My hospice patients and families, past and present, who have taught me how to die with dignity and worship Jesus on into eternity. My family who has cheered me on and believed that I could accomplished the dream God put within me, even when I stumbled along the way. Ministers of encouragement whom I encountered who sowed a one-time word into my life that impacted me for a lifetime. And I would be remiss to acknowledge those whom I have encountered through this blog. God has gone beyond my wildest imagination with this. You have blessed me. These are the ones who cross my mind as I preach and minister each day.
One of the most beautiful stories I heard was from Dodie Osteen, mother of Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. Dodie told of how she and her husband, the late Pastor John Osteen, were invited back to a church he pastored in the 1950s. Despite his divorce and remarriage, the church walked with him through the entire process and continued to love him decades later. He went back to preach and told the church how they were like the lady who anointed Jesus’ feet with the alabaster box of ointment as the KJV describes it. Pastor Osteen said he carried the aroma of that church and how they ministered to him during his darkest hours with him all over the world.
Only eternity will reveal the people who have ministered life to this young pastor. To all those who are reading, to those who aren’t, and to those who have gone on before me, thank you! I carry you with me as I minister in Jesus’ name.