Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Fruit of Longevity in the Pastorate

Tonight we celebrated Pastor Thomas Crichton's 37+ years as the pastor of Greater RI Baptist Temple. In 1975, he led his wife and children to the spiritually barren region of New England and planted the Greater RI Baptist Temple in Johnston, RI.

For almost 4 decades, Pastor Crichton stayed faithful to the Lord morally, doctrinally, and philosophically. He loved, fed, and most importantly, shepherded his flock through thick and thin. He sacrificed his life and laid it down for the sheep--and not only for the sheep, but for their little lambs, and for grand-lambs, and great-grand-lambs!

Nearly 38 years later, generations of families gathered together for a Pastor Appreciation Dinner. One by one, members of the Greater RI Baptist Temple stood up and gave words of thanks to Pastor and Ginny Crichton. As the members spoke, the theme of Pastor Crichton's faithful love and care throughout the decades became pronounced. It was truly amazing to hear how the lives of individuals, couples, and generations of families were touched and eternally changed by the influence of one faithful pastor.

Few are the pastors who can rejoice in witnessing the fruit of 30+ years of faithfulness in one single church! Though God may not allow some pastors to have such a long-lasting ministry in one particular church, I can't help but ponder how many pastors quit prematurely, forfeiting the profound impact they might have had if they would have remained for the long haul.

What a God-given blessing to be able to live to see the fruit of faithfulness and longevity in the ministry! What a blessing to see 2, 3, and even 4 generations within one family come to Christ and live for Him! What a blessing to know that God's Word prevailed, and that the unseen sowing of yesteryear blossomed into magnificent trophies of grace years later!

May pastors be encouraged and challenged to "keep on keepin' on!" May Christians everywhere be encouraged and challenged to be faithful in their witness before family and friends! May we never forget that God's Word will not return void, and that we shall reap in due time if we faint not! May we remember that our labor is not in vain in the Lord, and that the impact we have on people all around us has the potential to save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins!

In the old Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life" George Bailey was blessed by being given the opportunity to see that his life touched the lives of countless others! Tonight, the members of Greater RI Baptist Temple were able to witness the life-changing impact that one man of God had on his sheep over the course of 37 years. As a pastor, I can't think of a greater blessing than that of knowing and seeing that my life made a difference--that my life counted--that my life was used of the Lord to salvage the lives of many!

Some day our time on this earth will be over, and what will matter most is our faithfulness to the Lord, the fruit of which being the lives of others touched by our own.

Thank you to pastors, parents, and Godly friends who have remained faithful! Don't quit! Keep your eyes on the Lord, trust His Word, and finish your course! It might just be that someday God will allow you the blessing of beholding the fruit of your labors--but usually this blessing is reserved for those who remain faithful for many 37ish!! Thank you, Pastor Crichton, for your example of longevity and faithfulness!

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