I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this, but not many pastors have a pastor. I’m not one of those because I have three men I consider my pastor! Let me tell you about them.
I just got home from spending a couple of hours with two of my pastors who are great encouargers and genuine men of God… Dr. Ryan Whitley and Dr. Buddy Gray. I can say without hesitation that each time I am around them, I come away feeling better about myself and thankful God has allowed me to know these Christian gentlemen.
I have known Dr. Ryan Whitley since 1979. He was in my wedding and I was in his. Ryan and I have spent countless hours discussing the Bible. We attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Beeson Divinity School at the same time. We did our first 40 day fast together which was one of the greatest spiritual events in my life. Ryan is full of wisdom, passion, and enthusiasm for the glory of God. Ryan is probably the most creative person I know. Ryan is pastor of CrossPoint Church in Argo, Alabama. I may not have a biological brother, but I think of Ryan in terms of Proverbs 18:24.
I knew about Dr. Gray for many years as he is the pastor of Hunter Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. A few years ago I was able to get to know him personally. If you met Dr. Gray you would never think he is the pastor of the largest church in Alabama because he is so humble, genuine, and gentle. Buddy is dedicated to preaching and teaching the Gospel without apology. He is passionate about discipling individual believers in the great doctrines of truth found in Scripture. Along with that, he is able to be a pastor to everyone he comes in contact with… and that includes people who are not members of Hunter Street. That includes me…
There is one more person who I consider my pastor, Dr. John Thweatt who shepherds First Baptist Church of Pell City, Alabama. Dr. Thweatt wasn’t with us tonight because he is on a mission trip to Madagascar. John is much like Dr. Whitley and Dr. Gray in that he loves God and God’s people. John is a faithful expositor, teacher, and preacher of God’s Word. John and I regularly correspond and help each other as we prepare to preach the Word. John is wise and discerning beyond his years and is one of the funniest men I’ve ever met (Thus the picture). I’m thankful God put John in my life…
A couple of years ago when I was going through an exceptionally difficult time in my life, these men were of great help, inspiration, and encouragement. When I was struggling, they picked me up by reminding me that God is sovereign and will provide. When I felt like throwing in the towel, they reminded me that perseverance is a hallmark of the faith. When I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, they reminded me that not seeing it didn’t mean it wasn’t there. Were it not for these three men I would not be who or where I am today. For that, and many other things, I thank God for these men!
Now for the real point of this post. Everyone needs friends. Every person must have others they can lean on in times of stress. Christians who have godly people in their lives like Ryan, Buddy, and John are more healthy emotionally, more godly, and closer to Christ for them being in their life.
If you don’t have a friend or two you can talk to about anything… and know their counsel will be God centered… you need to find one. If you don’t have a friend who will tell you the truth because they love you… you need to find one. If you don’t have a friend who helps you become more like Christ when you’re around them… you must find one!
If you don’t have a Ryan, Buddy, or John in your life… ask God to provide them for you. Ask God to reveal to you someone that can fill that role. Ask God to show you who you can be a friend to and they can in turn be your friend. Don’t rest or quit praying until God grants you these kind of friends! Then when God answers your request… you will know by experience what is meant by the Scriptures written below…
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 18:24 A man of many compaions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend…
Proverbs 27:9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Thank you God for Ryan, Buddy, and John!