- Romans 13:11 (NKJV) And do this, knowing the time…
I’ve only had one official appointment with the General Overseer of the Church of God (the top executive in my denomination) in my entire ministry. I don’t remember the exact date but I remember the occasion vividly. It was when Dr. Paul L. Walker was General Overseer and in the early days of my current assignment.
I was way in over my head in those days (not much has changed!) and Dr. Walker had been a long-distance mentor in my life for many years. He had been a very successful pastor in Atlanta, GA and I, along with many of my generation, greatly admired him and followed his example.
It was back in the days before podcasts, videos and the such and I had subscribed to his church to receive a cassette tape of his services each week. I did that for years; I still have hundreds of those cassettes stored in my attic (I’m betting they’ll be collector’s items someday and I’ll sell them on eBay.)
But anyway, the point is, I greatly admired and respected Dr. Walker.
And as I had mentioned, I was way in over my head at my current assignment and knew I needed some wise counsel—who better than Dr. Walker. As a result, I called his office at our General Headquarters and asked for an appointment. I explained my situation and told the secretary that I would come anytime and any day—just to let me know and I’d be there. Sure enough a few months later an appointment had been set. Sonja and I packed up and headed to Cleveland, TN. Our appointment was set for 10:00 a.m.
That morning we arrived early (appropriately). This was in the old days when the International Headquarters were in the three-story building behind our current International offices. We made our way to the receptionist’s desk in the lobby and were instructed to wait while our appointment was confirmed. In a little while a receptionist from the top floor met us and took us via the elevator to the top floor where we again were instructed to sit in a waiting area. Finally another lady came and escorted us past several offices and past the General Overseer’s secretaries (notice not secretary but secretaries) and finally we were ushered into the inter-sanctum: The office of the General Overseer of the Church of God (I’m sure we felt a little like the High Priest when he went into the holy of holies!).
Dr. Walker met us warmly and was very gracious. We had a 45-minute appointment and I wanted to use every minute wisely. I had prepared several pages of questions and we worked through them carefully. The time flew by—matter of fact it flew by so fast that we worked through our 45-minute appointment and the next appointment and around 12:15 p.m. Dr. Walker realized that we had worked through the morning and it was now lunch time. We brought the meeting to a quick close and he even invited us to lunch.
I’ll never forget that day. The advice he gave that day was very helpful and I’m sure made a huge difference for my ministry. However, what stood out to me (to this day) is the fact that Dr. Walker put aside his schedule and forgot the clock and poured himself into helping us. That action touched me deeply and I’ve never forgotten it.
It is so easy in this busy fast-paced life we live and work in to become captive to our schedules and calendars. There’s no doubt about it—I’m a stickler for being organized and for maximizing the minutes of my life. However, sometimes the best thing you can do is throw the calendar and “to-do list” out the window and simply be there for someone.
I’m reminded of the old adage: Most people will forget what you say, but they will remember forever how you made them feel.
Bottom line, preaching and teaching can be done in so many ways–and using words is not always at the top of the list.
In a few days Dr. Walker will be speaking at the annual South Carolina Church of God prayer conference and, Lord willing, you can be sure I’ll be there. I may even buy the cassette if they’re still selling those things.