“What are the keys to effective, long tenured ministry?” I asked Wayne Marshall that question in 2010… At that point, we were beginning to talk about my role on staff, and he was approaching 20 years as the Senior Pastor of Longview Heights.
His answer was simple, sincere, and deeply profound… “LEAD PRAYERFULLY”, he said. In the midst of this conversation, little did I know how invested he was in this philosophy. I remember with great clarity the first time I watched him on his face before the Lord, weeping over the people. It moved me! Over our five years together, I watched him make decisions bathed in prayer, seek the Lord in times of prayer, and weekly lift the staff and congregation in intercession.
Maybe the most fundamental of all lessons that I learned from Wayne Marshall was simply this, “A Pastor MUST be a man of prayer!”.
That said, the very title "praying pastor" is a reflection of the tragic departure from God in our day. Every pastor should without exception be a man of prayer. Empty messages flow from empty men. How can God speak through us if we have not allowed Him to speak to us? The church will never be a "house of prayer" until the pastor is a "man of prayer."
We MUST stay on our knees. We MUST hear from God. We MUST teach, preach, and lead from a position of prayerfulness!
Pastor Eric Dodson wrote about the Bible’s encouragement for pastors to pray - “Though the Bible says a great deal about preaching, only a few passages speak directly about sermon preparation (cf. Ezra 7:10 and 2 Timothy 2:15). Yet there are many passages that highlight the need for consistent prayer. This is not to say that sermon preparation is unimportant (for it certainly is). Rather, it is to emphasize the vital necessity of prayer. Even pastors need to be reminded that prayer is an essential part of their ministry, and that praying for their people is a biblical priority.”
Ephesians 1:16-18a — “. . . while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened . . .”
The church (and the world) needs pastors who lead prayerfully, preach biblical truth passionately, and live out Christianity authentically.
The Praying Pastor:
- places more trust in prayer than in programs;
- preaches messages from the prayer closet, rather than from his bookshelf;
- values the anointing of the Father over the accolades of men;
- lives in the context of prayer;
- seeks to please the Father rather than to appease the congregation;
- is marked by a passionate pursuit of the Father's heart;
- spends more time in private prayer than he does in public speaking;
- preaches messages that are born and bathed in prayer;
- lives and ministers on his knees;
- preaches messages from the Father's heart rather than off of the top of his head;
- shares the Father's vision by hearing the Father's voice.
Excerpts from Prayer Meeting First Aid Kit, Keeney Dickenson, Prayeridigm Publishing, 2005.
On The Job Training
In my last post, I talked about the changing of seasons… Sometimes change brings us to new places and creates new perspectives; however, sometimes those changes are far more than just new scenery. New seasons can include significant shifts in roles and responsibilities, and can demand that we call on past experiences to tackle new challenges.
I have often noted that God never wastes an experience, a memory, or a hurt, but truly works all things together for good. For the past five years, God’s assignment for our family included my call to serve as an Associate Pastor leading education and outreach ministries at Longview Heights Baptist Church. Now, as I transition from that Associate role back to Senior Pastor, I have taken time over the past couple of weeks to pause and reflect on lessons that I learned at LHBC…specifically, the lessons I have gleaned from my Pastor, Dr. Wayne Marshall.
For these past five years, I’ve had a front row seat in a classroom of ministry and mentoring. Bro. Wayne and I have been prayer partners, confidants, and co-laborers…more than this, we are friends. I am so thankful for Wayne Marshall and feel compelled to share a few of the lessons I’ve learned from him. Over the next several days, my posts will deal with these lessons.
First, a little background information is in order. By his own admission (and by observing his life), he is far more plodder than visionary; more pastor than preacher; far more shepherd than CEO… and through that unique blend of personality, conviction, and gifting, Wayne Marshall has led the church to make a deep impact in North Mississippi and around the world!
In this day and age, visionary leadership is lauded and it’s almost unthinkable that a pastor would not focus on and emphasize a daring and courageous vision… Yet, Wayne Marshall has taught a different construct and its not that he didn’t have direction. He simply took a different approach.
Eugene Peterson talks about a “long obedience in the same direction” and to me, Wayne Marshall epitomized this approach! By definition, plodding is to proceed in a tediously slow manner or to work with constant and monotonous perseverance. If Webster had illustrated words with images, we would find Wayne Marshall’s picture next to that word!
He said that when he came to Longview Heights, he committed himself to a dependence on prayer and a love for the people. He determined to get up early, work hard, pray hard, study hard, visit people, love people, lead people, live a holy life, and walk with Jesus.
Here is a unique perspective on vision… HE DECIDED TO GET UP THE NEXT DAY AND DO THE SAME THING! And twenty-two years later the church has grown ten-fold and church over 25 church plants have emerged.
Wayne Marshall taught me a great deal about working hard…and working hard at the right things! He deliberately emphasized prayer and missions, and prayer & missions have marked his ministry. The results speak for themselves. Thousands of lives changed, over 100 men and women are serving in vocation ministry out of the ministry of LHBC, and nations around the world have been impacted from 4501 Goodman Road.
This approach is not just based on will power or human ability. It is far more than a “roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done-with-grit-sweat-and-determination” idea. Plodding is a biblical approach!
God values faithfulness! The commendation of the believer at the end of our days is “Well done, GOOD and FAITHFUL servant!”. (emphasis mine)
Being faithful, persistent, and consistent over a long period of time pays significant dividends (whether investing money or investing in people.)
Thank you, Bro. Wayne for your example of faithfulness!
Matthew 25:23 - "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
“You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to set.” Psalm 104:19 NLT
“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.” ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
How well do you deal with change? There are some who are pioneers, leaders who live for change... Some people think that change is a dessert after every meal. Most are not like that! Most say “Don’t throw too many changes at me“. It can create havoc on our psyche. Change gives us great consternation.
But change is woven into the fabric of our world. There is a God-ordained rhythm to life…day and night… seasons…years.
The falling leaves of Autumn and the budding flowers of Spring visibly remind us of this concept of change. So do the unexpected circumstances of our lives — a medical diagnosis; a job change; a new relationship.
But honestly, I don’t always pick up on the rhythm. I don’t always follow the cadence of the beat! Changes come and I struggle with them and even resist them at times. Moving from one phase of life to another can bring huge emotional or physical toil.
Yet I am learning that there are valuable lessons to be learned in the changing seasons of our lives. Character-building lessons; comfort-stretching lessons; faith-enriching lessons!
Our youngest daughter, Heidi is a creature of routine and habit. She likes consistency, familiarity, and status quo. This year has been quite a challenge for her as both of her sisters are now attending college. Over the last few weeks of the summer, it began to dawn on her that they had enrolled in school and would be moving away.
During those weeks, we saw a few teary episodes and some raw emotions from her, but the tipping point came just after school was back in session.
Around this same time, Stephanie and I did some VERY minor remodeling projects in our home, including installing tile backsplash in the kitchen. The first day that Heidi came home from school and saw this new development (literally 16” of change in the form of covered up sheetrock), she exclaimed in a voice of shear exasperation, “I HATE IT! I do not like that at all and I wish it was back the way it was before!” Her backpack slid from her shoulder and to the floor. She then melted only the kitchen floor with it and began to cry. Through her tears she said, “THERE’S JUST SO MUCH CHANGE IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW!”
We have laughed about that extreme response to such a minor change…but we have also reflected on it. Little did we know that only a few short months later, God would be guiding our family into a new season of life and ministry. We would be leaving the familiar and taking on a new role of service in a new field of ministry.
He had been preparing us in the last season for the new one! He was shaping us so that we’d be ready. That said, regardless of the season you are currently in, know these two things:
Christ-follower, husband, dad, friend & the Senior Pastor of Hardy Street Baptist Church.