Tuesday, June 30, 2009


It was about 19 years ago...She was a matriarch of the church, I was the new pastor in my first pastorate. She was a retired schooteacher, having taught back in the days when you could still discipline the students. She kind of scared me. She had invited me over to her house. She wanted to ask me some questions.

I was nervous. She was a Seppa in her first marriage, before her first husband died. The road in front of the church was named after her family. I didn't know it at the time, but her family had once owned the land on which the church was built. She obviously had had much influence in the church, and she wanted to check me out.

I didn't know what to expect, but it didn't take long before she started asking me some questions. I can't remember what all we talked about, but I do remember one question: "What is the most important virtue for a Pastor to have?" The question kind of caught me by surprise. But I thought about it a moment and answer: "humility."

My first impressions of Helen Leigh were that she was kind of stern and harsh, but it didn't take long before I found out just how wrong that I was. She was precious. In my early days as Pastor, she looked out for our young family. When I had a cold she kindly chided me for not taking vitamin C. Her and her husband took Laura and I out to dinner and then paid for the babysitting. She had a big heart. Harriet and Helen were best friends and played the piano and organ together for years. We were all saddened when she passed, years ago, but will see her again in heaven.

Back to my answer. I was asked in a recent interview about the relative importance of humility with regards to effective leadership. Great question! Not only is humility essential to leadership, it is essential to life. How is it that we, formerly dead in our sins, could be used by God (Eph. 2:1)? What abilities do we have within ourselves to serve the living God? God saved us entirely by His grace through the work of His Son on the cross. "All we had to offer Him was brokenness and strife." But He saved us and changed us and gifted us that we might serve Him. It is all by God's grace (1 Cor. 4:7). Even the good works that we do were "prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). "All that I am or ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee" the song says.

To the extent that we realize our great need we better appreciate God great provision. Three separate times we find in Scripture this truth, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Prov. 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). The only thing preventing me from experiencing God's grace to a greater degree--which He has lavished upon me (Eph. 1:8)--is my own ill-founded self-sufficiency. Lord help me to see more clearly both your greatness and my own need, that your provision might be "perfected in (my) weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9).

Pastor Jerry

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