A Tale of Two Pastors
By Billy Beasley
My recently released novel, The Preacher’s Letter, is the story of a man who has lost hope and faith due to three tragic events in his life. But I have also come to realize that it is the story of two ministers. One who has lost his way to ego, income, and worst of all religious behavior. The other minister remains the good and faithful shepherd, beloved by many.
I want to delve into the two ministers in the story and see what can be gleaned from it. The pastor, Alan Matthews, who lost his way, is for the record no one specific. He represents a conglomeration of the religious behavior of Christians. We have all witnessed the arrogance and pride that can come from that type of person. Sadly, they never seem to see the damage they inflict because they are busy doing God’s work. Maybe they should not do God such favors. Most of us have at one time been wounded by religious behavior. I have stated often that I have the scars of a Southern Baptist upbringing in the South, where you were on a road to hell if you drank a beer but it was perfectly okay to tell racial jokes in the church parking lot while smoking cigarettes.
The lost minister started out well but as the churches he was called to became larger and his salary rose he began to lose his way. It doesn’t happen overnight. People begin to tell you how wonderful you are and it becomes easy to see yourself as something far more important than you are. It is why we all should be very careful what we entertain. What we allow to enter our hearts and minds. In this case it is ego. I think it is safe to say that we have all encountered that minister who loves the limelight. Loves the praise of people. Loves the sound of their voice so much so that they can’t hear any other.
We attend Lifepoint Church in Wilmington and one thing I really love about our senior pastor, Jeff Kapusta, is that I never once have felt like I was being preached at or judged. It seems like Jeff is having a conversation with us that he is part of. It certainly helps that we have a pastor that truly cares about the people he is leading.
I did have someone in mind when I wrote about the other pastor in The Preacher’s Letter. Horace Hilton is no longer with us but he was a powerful minister for many years. After his retirement he was frequently called to speak at seminars hundreds of miles from his home at Wrightsville Beach. He was truly anointed. He was part of churches growing. In fact, in the later years of his career, he returned to our area to pastor Myrtle Grove Presbyterian. He once shared with me that half of the then fifty members departed right away. The church grew to over a thousand members quickly.
He was a wonderful speaker whose messages were precise. Maybe an even greater gift was that he was a true Shepherd. He was a mild mannered humble man, grandfatherly like, until someone threatened the flock he was Shepherd over. He dealt with issues quickly and cleanly.
Best of all—and while I was doing anything but placing God first in my life—Horace was my friend. I could call or visit him at any time. There was no judgment ever. I never understood this and I certainly did not feel deserving of it but he considered being my friend as something special in his life. There is a part in The Preacher’s Letter, which while I wrote it occurring in another place, did really take place in our friendship.
Excerpt from The Preacher’s Letter
They said goodbye and David began walking to his car. He turned abruptly and looked back at Troy. He raised his hand and Troy could see the crooked finger that was injured from an automobile accident pointing in his general direction. His eyes were focused like lasers as
he said, “Troy, it is a very special friendship we share.”
Troy tapped his heart lightly as he felt tears well up. “Me too. Me too,” he gently repeated…
Horace often heard how wonderful he was, but he did not allow it to take root. He knew who the credit belonged to.
We became friends after his retirement from full time ministry. He loved gardening. One day at Wrightsville Beach Park, where I was Park Supervisor, one of my staff said, “There is an older man with a red bandanna on his head taking our compost.”
I knew it was Horace because he had called previously and asked permission. Later, as the story spread among staff I chuckled and said, “That may just well be the most renowned pastor on the East Coast, digging in manure, leaves, grass clippings, etc. and dressed in work clothes you did not expect to see a minster in.”
That was Horace. He was real. He did not view himself as a powerful minister the way others did. He treated people well. He had hope for people like me when I had none for myself.
You can be a powerful minister or a writer like me. That should not define who we are. How do we treat people? Especially if great success comes our way. Which path will we take among the two ministers represented in my story?
What people will remember is not how we preached or wrote, as much as how did we treat others?
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
And when we get too caught up in our own perceived greatness this scripture will become reality.
Proverbs 16:18 (The Message)
First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
About the Author
Billy Beasley resides in Carolina Beach, NC with his wife Julie and their Australian Cattle Dog, Teke. They are active members of Lifepoint Church in Wilmington, NC.
Billy is the author of The River Hideaway- a traditionally published work of faith based fiction. He shares two simple beliefs with his favorite character in this novel. Faith in God and a conviction that ‘Hearts have no color’.
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You can read Billy's "Sunday Inspiration" column the 2nd Sunday each month at Pandora's Box Gazette.
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