Reflections Of A Young Preacher: Appreciation For My Elders
Marc W. Gibson
The title is ironic since I, being a young man of twenty-one years, really do not have that many reflections on life as compared to one who has lived seventy years or so. Nonetheless, I feel a need to express my thoughts as a young preacher. Perhaps these thoughts will be shared by others my age. I do not know how much longer I will be considered a young preacher. I have a feeling the time is quickly approaching that that distinction will pass.
I have much for which to be thankful. A great deal of thanks goes to older preachers and other members of the Lord's body who have encouraged me more than words can tell. Much praise and encouragement have gone from older preachers to younger men; it is now time to turn the tables. Perhaps some men my age do not appreciate the wisdom found in age. They seem to scoff at advice given from the good hearts of those who are older. I am ashamed of these ones and hope they change their attitudes for their own sakes.
Memories That Encourage
Nothing can erase my memories of sitting in awe at the powerful preaching of men such as Franklin T. Puckett and Roy E. Cogdill. The Scriptures were opened to me by men like Sewell Hall, Homer Hailey, L.A. Mott, Ferrell Jenkins, and Dee Bowman. The encouragement to preach was kindled within me as I watched and listened to Ed Harrell, James R. Cope, Connie Adams, James P. Needham, and others too numerous to mention. Dear brethren, keep on preaching the Word. We are listening and appreciative. You are truly fulfilling the command of 2 Timothy 2:2 which states: "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
Much knowledge was obtained through study sessions with men such as Ron Halbrook, J.T. Smith, and Fred Shewmaker. I do want to mention in particular H.E. Phillips. I consider him a father in the faith, as Timothy did Paul. I know I share that sentiment with many other men. His conviction and love for the Lord will ever be in my mind. Just to sit and listen to brother Phillips was an experience in itself. He would ask us boys to bring up a subject and then he would expound upon it for what seemed a short time, but had in reality been 1-3 hours. We soaked up all our heads could hold. The wisdom was vast. He worried that he might not be saying things to help us. Brother Phillips expounded God's principles to us and impressed them in our minds. It has really helped greatly. I thank and love him for it. Those who read this may be able to recall similar experiences. Oh, how we treasure them!
Facing The Reality Of Human Weakness
These men I have mentioned have faults and they would be the first to admit it. I mention these brethren not to exalt them above all others, but to simply recognize their efforts and their immense help to me and others. May their tribe increase.
There is a darker side. My faith has been shaken several times when I have learned of a highly respected man who was a great example of faith but who plunged to the depths of sin. I am distressed to see one-time giants in the faith broken by Satan's grip. This should warn us to be ever more watchful. None of us is immune to sin. Satan is on the prowl, brethren.
Need For Experience
At the end of August 1985, I will have completed three summers of working alongside older preachers. I would recommend this arrangement highly. Bob Buchanon, Harry Lewis, and Ron Halbrook have taught and shown me the "ropes" so that I might be more effective in the Lord's work. We young preachers need to find time to associate with older men in the faith. One does not have to work in the same congregation to do this, but it is a good idea for those just starting in the work of preaching.
The Encouragement Of All Brethren
Let me not forget to mention the brethren in general. Many an older brother or sister has given me sound advice from their experiences in life. This has helped greatly, even when I did not learn the importance of the advice until it was too late! Their patience with me in my inexperience is deeply appreciated. Their homes were ever open to me as they have shared food, lodging, and encouragement. John referred to this good work when he said, "Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have born witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well.... We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth" (3 Jn. 5-8). May more follow these godly examples.
Do You Remember?
I could go on and on about more memories that stir my heart. I hope these few words have stirred your memory and that you will have thanksgiving in your heart for those who encouraged and helped you along. Let us be thankful for the pioneers who went before but have left their writings with us. Dig into them and find great fundamental truths. Most of all, brethren, let us know God's Word. Study it and teach others. We are in the kingdom of God, fellowlaborers in His vineyard, and members of Christ's body. We stand on God's Word. While we are being thankful, may we be girdine un our loins for the work we must do.
The church has fought many battles in the past and there are more on the horizon. As we who are young advance in years, we must be prepared to step forward into the battle against evil. Those whose armor is scarred and worn from many years of battle have been tremendous examples of strength and courage. Their strength is Christ (Phil. 4:13) and may we who are young learn from them. Battle on ye soldiers of Christ! We are with you. When death takes you from the ranks, be assured that the memory of your great stand for truth will be in our hearts. Those who have passed on can still be heard. Let us press on to that heavenly home where some great Day we will rejoice in victory forevermore. There we will sing that wondrous new song to the Savior: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever! " (Rev. 5:9-10,12,13) Amen!
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 18, pp. 564-565