As my recent retirement from First Baptist Church of Crofton (FBCC) grew closer, I spent a lot of time reflecting on my ministry. I was ordained 43 years ago and have served churches in some capacity for the entire time.
One particular blessing God gave me is the precious friendship of Brother Lex Eaker.
When the Holy Spirit convicted my heart, at the tender age of 11, I rode my bicycle to First Baptist Church of Sheridan, Arkansas, to see my pastor, Brother Lex. He gently explained the love of God and the forgiveness of Christ, and I made a confession of faith and was later baptized.
Three years later, I was surprised when my friend Bob Harper surrendered to God’s calling to preach. I thought, “That’s the last thing I want to do!” But then God called me. Once again, I mounted my bicycle and headed to the church to talk with Brother Lex. His wise advice was, “Bobby, I’ve got to be honest. You do this only if you can’t do anything else. It will be the only thing that will keep you in it. This is a call.” I have found that true.
Brother Lex took Bob, another boy, and I under his wing, and he coached and mentored us as young teens. We read a homiletics book together and Old Testament and New Testament survey books.
Years later, as a young pastor, I called Brother Lex to seek advice on difficult church members and church conflict issues. His calm reassurance always carried me through the hardest days. His voice offered wisdom and prayerful support when I most needed those things.
Do you have a Brother Lex? Are you a Brother Lex?
One of my regrets when surveying the contemporary church scene is the apparent lack of such relationships between many older and younger pastors. The spiritual resources provided by more senior pastors for younger pastors, I believe, are underemployed to the detriment of both groups.
In some instances, I have made efforts to call younger brothers to encourage them and did not receive a return call. Perhaps younger pastors are too busy to stop and spend time with older pastors, or maybe they feel that pastors of a certain age don’t understand today’s church. Maybe younger pastors think more experienced pastors just aren’t relevant. I hope not.
To my older “baby boomer” pastoral colleagues, I urge you to consider taking the initiative in reaching out to some of your “millennial”-aged younger coworkers. And younger pastors — take advantage of older leaders’ friendship, knowledge, experience, and brotherhood.
Take the time, my friends, to invest in one another. You will never regret it.
Not a day passes without a prayer of thanksgiving for the influence and help given to me by Brother Lex.
Will you consider becoming a Brother Lex or finding your own special older minister friend? Together you will both better serve your congregations.
Remember my friend Bob? He now serves as the Arkansas Baptist Convention’s missions team leader. The other boy is now a strong lay leader in his church.
I thank God for Brother Lex!
Robert Parsley retired from FBCC in September 2021.
Photo: Adobe Images, by KOTO.