John C – A Pastor to the End
So I was asked to share about John. That is really difficult because most of you know him better and longer than I and are much more capable. I thought about just “winging it” or starting 10 minutes late, in “John fashion” but I am not that good! I met John when we moved back to California 13 years ago. Jim was teaching in BYKOTA and the 2 of them realized they both were youth pastors, trombonists and had the same sense of humor. I am thankful for your ministry to me and my family, especially as you walked a very dark valley with us as you helped me walk Jim home to heaven 8 years ago.
If I were to look in a dictionary and find the word pastor, I wouldn’t be surprised to find your picture there. John you are the very definition of a pastor! And in true ministry style I came up with this acronym/acrostic for the word Pastor:
Pursuit of Godliness – John, your ministry has shown me the connection between faithfulness and fervor. You are always calling us to apply and put into practice what we have encountered in the Word. Your own pursuit of the Lord as a long obedience in the same direction is more powerful than all the words you have ever said put together (and that is a lot of words)! You have persevered and your time in God’s Word and prayer is evident…
Available –Hopefully everyone is aware that the Bible does not really give a theological basis for retirement. But that’s okay, because John is not going to retire anyway. Can you imagine him shuffling around in slippers and a robe waiting for God to take him home? No! He will remain restfully available! John is going to retire from work as our culture deems it, but he will continue to listen and respond to the Spirit and minister as only John can!
Steward – John will continue pastoring and stewarding the gifts God has given him We are told in Scripture to be stewards of all God has given us all the way to the end. So now John will continue to steward your resources and your time in new ways. Even though there is no retirement from service to God, there are seasons of life that affect the kind of service we do! Thank you for modeling a strong work ethic, John.
Teacher – You can’t teach people what you do not know. And you know Jesus! John, your Joy and enthusiasm are contagious. I have learned so much from you! No matter what anyone says about your humor and your stories, I personally cannot get enough!
Ordained – John, there is No question that you are called to full time vocational ministry. You have strong moral integrity and character that is above reproach. We could talk about the fact that you are a character but everyone knows that too! A pastor is a servant leader who never stops leading and serving.
When in 2 Kings 13, Elisha and King Jehoash have an exchange where the prophet instructs the King to shoot an arrow out the window as a symbol of victory over Syria. The king shoots 3 arrows and quits. Elisha said that if he had shot every arrow he had he would not see a limit to God’s intervention on his behalf against Israel’s enemies. John you are shooting all your arrows courageously all the way to the finish line, never settling for less and I for one am watching…thank you!
Renaissance Man – Do you know what a Polymath is? Well it is the technical term for Renaissance man. P didn’t fit into the acrostic anyway so we will go with Renaissance! In the western society we usually reward people who capitalize on the determined pursuit of something with singular focus. We call them specialists and seek them out. A polymath is different. They manage to achieve mastery across multiple industries, arts and fields of studies. They are always willing and driven to learn new things. John, You are a polymath, better known as a renaissance man. We often hear jack-of-all-trades, master of none; and yet during the Renaissance, a man who could do whatever he put his mind to was the ideal of perfection, making him a master-of-all. Your music, your love of youth, your intergenerational approach to life and ministry has given you a breadth of experience and expertise that flows like a flood, encompassing and saturating any field it comes across! Multidisciplinary polymathy is the sign of a true pastor according to Paul, who wanted to be all things to all people that he might win some! And John, you are winsome!
In closing, I am reminded of the story of Elijah and Elisha in the Bible. It is often used when someone retires, as the older pastor places the “mantle” on the younger disciple and passes on His responsibilities and calling onto the younger. The current challenge is often in the every day life at church the change of leadership is not so easy. People have a tough time transitioning –it is messy and disruptive and heart wrenching, even if it is inevitable. The modern Elijahs are still around and called to do all the weddings and funerals! And besides some of the members are still stuck playing the comparison game; it seems that the new and younger prophets can’t begin to fill the old Elijah’s shoes. John does have size 15 shoes! John’s mantle is heavy and his shoes are too big to fill and yet my prayer continues to be “Oh Lord, thank you for this mentor and may I inherit a double portion of this man’s heart and humor and ministry. Amen.
John and Jacque – I love and admire you both!