Would you tell us about your call to ministry?
God called me to ministry when I was 11. I remember telling somebody when I was in my first ministry setting, God called me to preach when I was 11. I didn’t preach my first sermon until I was 15.
I was at an associational preteen camp. That’s where God placed on me this burden for pastoral ministry. I preached for the first time when I was 15, served a little church as a senior in high school when I was 17, as pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Black Oak, Ark. Then I went off to school.
It wasn’t until I graduated from college and got married that I moved into a full-time, live-on-the-field pastorate at Mill Creek Baptist Church in Mill Creek, Okla.
The testimony I’ve given to people is that I’d spent half of my life preparing for ministry at that point. I was 22 when I went to that church. God called me to preach when I was 11. There were 11 years of God’s calling me to do this, but I can’t really do it yet in a full-time kind of way. For all those 11 years, all that time of waiting and preparing, not one day did I doubt or question whether God had called me into ministry.
Then, after 22, I think I’ve questioned it every day. Once you get into the life of being a full-time pastor on the field it became a whole lot more than preaching, but I’ve all always landed on the same answer even with the questions. That’s just that God has called me to do this.
People other than pastors can have this sense, and I pray that everyone can get up in the morning and go to work and think God, from the foundation of time, created me to do this and I’m able to do the thing God had for me to do.
Please tell us about your family.
I’m married to Tracy. I met her at Baylor. She was a year ahead of me, and she was the director of freshman Sunday School in the church that I wound up going to.
She did not like me when she met me. She said I was too loud. But God has His ways, and we wound up married.
We have two children: Jim, who is 19, and Sarah, who is 15. That’s part of the reason why I’ve been reluctant to do this. With my kids at that age. But I’m very, very thankful for my family.
How have you navigated through being a pastor and a husband and father?
You know, we’ve been a family who has embraced the church membership aspect of ministry, for all of our family together in a lot of ways. I’ve taken my kids with me to make hospital visits from when they were little. It brightens up somebody after their knees have been ripped out and a new one put in to have a 6-year-old hold their hand and lead the prayer with them when the pastor comes to visit them.
Through that, my kids got to spend time with me. They got to build connections, even with older people in our congregation. They found areas where they can minister.
Tracy, my wife, she is twice the asset to First Baptist Farmersville and to the Southern Baptist Convention. She’s active in so many ways in our church. She teaches kindergarten Sunday School. She leads the preschool Awana department.
She heads up our ministry to the poor, City on a Hill. We wound up starting that because a tornado came through our area. We got a lot of donations, a whole lot more than we could give to the families who were affected by the tornado. Tracy knew how to help us through that disaster response. She pretty much led it. I went to Africa on a mission trip in the middle of this disaster response. Tracy ran that while I was gone. She was involved in it, because she’s been involved in disaster relief for more than 20 years with disaster relief childcare.