I spoke to a crowd of pastors this week

I spoke to a crowd of pastors this week. That’s about as an intimidating talk as a mortal can give. My knees were literally knocking as I wobbled to the podium. It has to do with the tremendous respect I have for each one of them. They have been called out, set apart, anointed by God.

Listen, there is not a higher calling in this life!

What could I possibly say to such a collection of esteemed personage? I certainly couldn’t teach them anything about the Bible. I couldn’t enlighten them on how to set an example before God and man. I couldn’t even pretend to understand the strength, courage and fortitude each one exemplifies in their daily walk.

We expect them to be like major league umpires….you know, they have to be perfect the first day on the job and then get better each succeeding day.

Do you realize how difficult it is to be a minister in the current culture in which we struggle? The world is teaching there are no absolutes. Truth is relative. If it feels good, do it. You can interpret a statement, policy or thought process anyway you want. All religions are just alike. Each man is his own castle. Many want all the “rights” coming to them…..and let someone else handle the responsibilities. Human life has been devalued to the point we hardly blink when the mass shootings occur.

And Moses thought he had problems whipping those Israelites across the desert!

Pastors wake up every morning seeking God’s direction and guidance for worldly problems not of their making. The task seems insurmountable to me. How would you like to shepherd a flock through these deep and endless pitfalls?

My hat’s off to them…..or maybe, I’m glad it’s them and not me!

We should all be thankful God calls out some of His most stubborn children for this ministerial work. They wrote the book on standing firm. They are not going to compromise. They are not going to give in. They are not going to give up.

These pastors know there ARE absolutes. There ARE unchanging truths. There ARE definite boundaries set by Almighty God. And they are going to share them, teach them, proclaim them……whether this world likes it or not!

I couldn’t stand before this esteemed group without thinking of L. H. Hatcher. He was the first preacher I ever knew. And you wouldn’t believe the depth of love he had for me. I was his favorite person in the whole congregation. Some Sunday mornings he preached his entire sermon directly to me.

Bro. Hatcher was the worst ping pong player in the history of the world. He’d stop by the youth department when I was six or seven and I’d beat him every time. I also worried about his eyesight. He’d visit us in Vacation Bible School and brag on my popsicle stick lamp stand……and even I could see it was so crooked it was about to fall over!

I never forgot him telling us that everything belonged to God and giving back just 10 percent was a piddling amount. And when he preached about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walking around in that fiery furnace it would singe the hair off your eyebrows!

He baptized me for fourteen minutes one sunny Sunday afternoon in 1957. I came up sputtering and gasping for air. I asked him later why he had “held me under for so long.” He smiled and said, “I know you Colbert boys. And this world can be rough at times. I figured you needed a little extra coverage.”

The world stopped moving the day Bro. Hatcher died. I was barely in my teens and I didn’t understand. I kept thinking about Methuselah. If God could spare him for 900 plus years, there was no reason on earth or in Heaven he couldn’t do the same for L. H. Hatcher!

I was too young to realize the wonderful gift of memory that God gives us. L. H. Hatcher is never far away in my mind or in my heart.

I see a pastor today and he will speak a word like Bro. Hatcher. Or he will let me win a ping pong game or brag on the least of my accomplishments…..and I realize Bro. Hatcher is still with us. He’s just spread out now in the souls of pastors all around us.

And Bro. Hatcher was right. This world is tough. And I have failed so many times I have no right to be called a child of God. I am certainly not worthy to stand before a crowd of ministers and proclaim one thing.

My current pastor almost too readily agrees. He credits any standing I have on the grace of a righteous God. You know, he reminds me at times of Bro. Hatcher. And I promise you, you can’t pay a person a higher tribute than that!