When you first read the title above, you may have assumed: “Oh great; one of my church’s leaders feels the need to write about how important HE is, and to remind us how much we should remember HIM. How self-serving.” Thankfully, that’s not actually the purpose of this post.
The title comes from Hebrews 13:7-8. The author writes: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
So then – how is this post not about me? How is this post not even about any of PVCC’s current leaders? Well, here’s the answer: most commentators believe these verses do not refer to the church’s current leaders, but rather its leaders who have died. The author of Hebrews is instructing his church to remember the example of those Christian leaders who came before them – those who faithfully fulfilled their callings, and have since received their reward after death.
This gets me thinking about the Christian leaders I’ve known in the past who have preached the word of God to me. I think of several in particular: B.J. Sanders, Shawn Edwards, Steve Yeaton, and Chris Morgan. I think of gifted professors at Cincinnati Christian University in the distant past, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the more recent past. I also think of my parents. Thankfully, none of these people have died yet. But one day they will – and their words and example will stick with me.
B.J. is the part-time youth pastor who took an apathetic teenager under his wing, and showed him what a life committed to the gospel could look like. Shawn is the preacher who consistently delivered sound expository sermons to the eager (but raw) kid who couldn’t get enough of the Bible. Steve is the church leader who showed a young man in Bible College and fresh out of Bible College the ropes of vocational ministry. Chris is the seasoned pastor who allowed me to vent about the frustrations of vocational ministry. I’ve had brilliant and godly professors at multiple institutions who were not just gifted teachers, but humble saints. And of course, I can’t sell my parents short; they’re the ones who dragged me out of bed on Sunday mornings, sent me to Vacation Bible School, opened their home for youth group Bible Studies, and funded the beginning of my dream to study Scripture under some of the best and brightest Christians I could find.
All of these people have played an important role in my life in the past; some of them still do now. But in their own ways, each of them is someone I can look to as an example of faithfulness. I often – though not frequently enough – thank God for these people, think of them, and pray for them. I owe each of them a great debt, and would not be who I am today if God had not graciously sent them into my life at the right time. Again, thankfully none of these people have died yet; but when they do (unless I go first), I’ll remember them.
My question is this: who are those people for you? What Christian leader from the past loved you, served you, taught you, prayed for you, and invested in you? Maybe you’re like me, and can remember Christian parents raising you in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Maybe you think of a youth pastor, preacher, Sunday school teacher, Bible study leader, roommate, or friend. Or maybe your story is completely unlike mine! Even so, I’d put money on it that you have someone in the past whom God has used in powerful ways to make you who you are now.
Whoever they are, remember them. Thank God for them. Consider the ways their faithful lives brought glory to Jesus Christ and benefit to you, and imitate them. Whatever you do, don’t forget them.