Over the years of pastoring, I have learned a lot about people. Some things good. But, to be honest, a lot of things that are not so good. And of those things that has not been good has been learning how quickly people will judge you and accuse you of things concerning why you pastor. So, for those who care, let me set the record straight.
First of all, neither Scott nor I have ever had any kind of dreams or fantasies about pastoring. In fact, when I was younger, people would sometimes comment about me possibly marrying a preacher one day. My response was always very simple… Over my dead body. I was not a bit interested. I loved God with everything inside of me and wanted a life focused on serving Him but I did not want the pressures that come with the life of a preacher. Although I had no preachers in my family, I could see the demands that people placed on preachers and wanted no part of it.
When I was around 17 years old, God did reveal to me that I would marry a preacher. At this point, my heart had changed some and I was okay with that possibility, though I made it quite clear that marrying a preacher does not necessarily mean marrying a pastor and that would be where I would draw the line. He could preach all he wanted and I would support him but I did not want to deal with the pressures of pastoring at all.
At 19 years old, I met the love of my life and he indeed was a preacher. Yet, he did not pastor and had no interest in pastoring. It was perfect… So, I thought.
Scott and I married and had our first son. We enjoyed ministering together at places like nursing homes and in community outreach efforts. Scott preached weekly on a live radio program and periodically at the church we attended. I could not be happier with the situation. Sometimes people would ask Scott it he would ever pastor a church and he would kindly tell them that he would have to hear very clearly from God about that because in himself, he had no interest in that. I always stood by listening and thinking that I wish these well meaning people would quit asking him that and relieved to hear him assure them that he had no plans for that.
However, things changed. I changed.
I was saved as a small child and filled with the Holy Spirit at the age of 14. I had spent my life trying to serve God the best I knew how. But I still had so much to learn (and am still learning).
Scott was a follower and supporter of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and had been since the 19902. After I met him, he showed me some of their videos and materials and though I was perfectly fine with his support of this ministry, I really didn’t have a heart for them or their message like Scott did.
The day came when Scott asked me about my understanding of the Message of the Cross. I arrogantly insisted that I did know it, but truth was, I was clueless. Yes, I understood Jesus’ death for my sins but that was about the extent to it.
Before long, I was watching videos of Donnie Swaggart preaching and although I agreed with everything he said, I had never heard preaching as strong and direct as his and it was a bit overwhelming to me.
There I was, being faced with all these questions and I had no idea that God was preparing me for a totally different chapter in my life.
One day, I asked Scott, “Why don’t we have Donnie come preach in Spartanburg?” This was actually quite a shock to Scott since he knew that Donnie’s preaching had been a bit offensive to me.
Scott explained that Donnie will only go to churches to preach and since didn’t pastor a church, we would have to see if the church we currently attended would sponsor it. We proceeded with trying to make arrangements and all was approved. Donnie would be coming to our church that winter.
Donnie came and that weekend was a life changer for me. Though I agreed with Donnie’s preaching 100%, I saw a large rejection of his messages, even by people who I attended church with weekly and who I thought understood Scriptures. I was in shock. I began to realize why Donnie’s messages are so strong. I started to see how shallow the church has become.
In the following weeks, a hunger was awakened in me and I realized that although I had been in church since I was born, I knew so little and needed to learn more. I began devouring all the materials Scott had from Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. It wasn’t long until I began to understand the Message of the Cross and my life was changing even more.
Before long, I knew that we did need to start a church. Though we attended a church with a pastor who loved God and taught the Bible, God had a calling on our lives to pastor a church that would preach boldly as I was seeing Donnie preach. False doctrine needed to be pointed out. The Message of the Cross needed to be revealed. And so much more.
I spoke to Scott about it and, at this point, he wasn’t sure. He wasn’t as against it as he had been but didn’t want to rush into anything. So we agreed to just pray about it and see what happened.
Scott did decide that, although he had been preaching for years, he wanted to go through Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and get ordained.
So, he began the paperwork for that. And over time, Scott began to realize that pastoring was the only thing he could do if he wanted to be obedient to God.
Yet, there was one thing that was heavy on my heart. I loved our pastor. I had attended the church since I was about 10 years old and this pastor had taught me so much, performed our marriage ceremony, dedicated our first child, and more. I knew he was planning to retire in a year or so but, knowing that God had called us to start the church right away, I hated having to tell our pastor that we were leaving. It would have been so much easier if he had been retiring right then, but he wasn’t.
Nevertheless, Scott and I asked our pastor for a meeting so that we could let him know of our plans. Though I hated having to tell him this, I knew it was the right thing and I was very pleased when our pastor gave us a very encouraging word. He did not seem at all upset and even told us to let him know if he could do anything to help.
Though we did not know it at the time, a week later, our pastor announced that he would actually be retiring that fall, rather than a year later. I was very surprised and could not believe how perfect the timing was. He would be leaving at the same time that we would be starting ours. Scott and I would be able to get out of the way before a new pastor arrived and no one would have to think that we were leaving just because we didn’t like the new pastor. It would be perfect, so I though. And later, when I found out that the new pastor was a fan of the “Purpose Driven Life,” I was so grateful that God had led us to start a church when He did.
So, a few weeks later, we started the church. It was one of the biggest decisions we’ve ever made and has been a life full of challenges. I was right about how people make it hard on the pastor’s family. There are plenty of days that I would much rather just be a part of a congregation and not have to deal with the frustrations that come with pastoring. However, not for a moment, have I doubted that God has placed a calling on our lives. A calling to pastor a Cross-preaching church that does not keep up with the latest fads but preaches the Gospel without compromise. And that’s what we do.
Sure, life would be easier sitting in a pew. And we could be more popular is we just followed the latest fads…. But then, we would no longer be doing what God has said and what a miserable life that would be.
People can hate me and talk about me. And they do. They can stab me in the back and try to walk all over me. But when all is said and done, I have peace with God each night because I know I am obeying Him. And that is all that really matters.
So, people can false accuse me and try to slander my name. They can curse our church and treat us like scum… To be honest, when people do things like this, I really doubt their Christianity… But regardless, I’m going on with Jesus and what He has called us to do, just the same.