“But Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord” (Acts 15:40).
“Tom, I need your help.”
“Ed, can you drop whatever you’re doing and meet me this morning?”
“Roger, I’ve got a tough visit to make and was wondering if you could go with me.”
Pastors don’t ask just anyone for this.
A preacher friend tells of the call he received in the wee hours of the night.
“A woman in the church was waving a gun around and threatening her family. In recent weeks, we had been trying to help her with certain problems. As I headed out the door for her house, I dialed the number for a deacon friend.”
“When he answered, I said something like, ‘Bob, I just had a call that there is trouble at the Swearheart’s home and I’m going there now.’ Bob said, ‘I’m on my way.'”
The pastor told me, “He did not say, ‘What do you want me to do?’ ‘Is there anything I can do?’ Or ‘I’ll be praying.’ He said, ‘I’m on my way.'”
“That,” he said, “is a real deacon.”
That little incident says worlds about that particular man and why the pastor values him so much.
That pastor had his choice from two dozen active deacons, yet he called that one. I never asked his reasons, but he had them, I’m sure. They surely would have involved compassion, maturity, and courage.
The highest compliment the pastor could give was to dial that brother first when a crisis occurred.
I told recently of a Wednesday night some years ago when a woman to whom we’d been ministering asked if the church could arrange to move her and her three children to a new apartment that very night. Otherwise, she would lose her deposit.
That very night. And it was already 8 o’clock, near the end of what had been a busy day.
Whew. Crisis time.
If we were going to do this, I had to act quickly before our people left the church building.
I walked to the still-open microphone and called out, “Jim Parrie, I need to see you now. Jim Smith. Marcus Bouler. Wesley Bouler.” and some others.
That night, a dozen of us moved that woman and her three children from her old apartment to another.
The highest compliment a pastor can give is for them to be the one he calls on first.
Paul gave the highest compliment to a fellow named Onesiphorus. Here’s the story…
Paul was in prison in Rome. Most believers shied away from him, fearing that if they showed up at the Mamartime Prison, their cover would be blown and they would be outed as Christ-followers. Perhaps they felt that if it happened in the course of their daily lives and there was no help for it, then that was one thing. But to willingly put themselves in harm’s way–to draw a target on their own back–was something else entirely. So, they left Paul in the prison. He wrote to Timothy in Ephesus, “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.”
Everyone except Onesiphorus. Paul continued,
“The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me, and found me–the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day–and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.” (Second Timothy 1:15-18).
Some people do not wait to see what is safe, what will be easy, which action would be convenient or “on their way,” but even go out of their way to do the right thing, no matter the cost or the difficulty.
Paul had no hesitation in mentioning such people. They were his champions.
Scripture mentions some of these people in the amazing Hebrews 11. At one point, the writer interrupts himself (herself?) to exclaim, “Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God!” (Hebrews 11:16).
When both God and the pastor consider you their champions, it doesn’t get any better than that.