I Carry Them with Me

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.

Author: Matthew Winters (The Comeback Pastor)

Born and raised in Portsmouth, VA, I eventually landed in upstate SC because when God calls I move. I gave my life to Christ in 1987 and surrendered to the call to ministry in 1997. I am a three-time graduate from Liberty University and Theological Seminary: BS in Religion (2003), the MA in Religion (Leadership concentration - 2006), and the Master of Divinity (Pastoral Ministries - 2013). I have served as a worship leader and senior pastor in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia since 1996. After experiencing a divorce, God graciously gave me my wife, Jennifer, whom I married in September 2015. Between the two of us, we have 6 children. I am the Lead/Founding Pastor of Overcomers Church in Walhalla, SC, a church plant that is helping those who have been overcome by life to become Overcomers in Christ. Jennifer and I both love people and long to see them enter into a relationship with Christ and walk in the power of His Spirit. I pray that these thoughts I share will challenge and inspire you to greater heights and deeper depths for the glory of Christ.

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