“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
2 Timothy 2:2
Three or four years after Kathi and I came to faith in Christ we went looking for a new church home. The church we grew up in was teaching things that we did not think squared with the Bible. We visited a small Bible-teaching church that some friends recommended. It was nice enough and the people were nice and it seemed like a fine place at first blush. The pastor got up—he was an older barrel-chested man with a crew cut of stiff gray hair and a very down to earth manner. His name was Norm, affectionately known as Pastor Norm, to the congregation. He began explaining a Bible passage verse by verse and it was very compelling. About 20 minutes into the message he got very animated and began actually shouting at us and spitting in excitement and passion. This went on for five minutes. Then he calmed down again and finished the teaching as he had begun it—steadily explaining to us verse after verse.
I was bitterly put off by these five minutes of shouting. Civilized preachers did not do such things in my church of upbringing and in my view of how things should be.
As we walked out of the church I said to Kathi, “Honey, we’ll never be back here again!” She agreed. It had made us both very uncomfortable.
I guess you know where this is going. The next Sunday we were back. And the next and the next and the next for more than two and a half years until we moved to Dallas to begin seminary.
Pastor Norm grew on me like few people ever have. I came to see his passion and his compassion. I came to appreciate his diligence and his sacrificial service. Eventually I understood his vision and his evangelistic zeal. I finally discovered his “I don’t much care if people think I am a nut as long as I am sold out to Christ and His Kingdom” approach to life.
The summer after my second year at seminary I came back to Norm’s church to serve as a summer intern under him—to learn some of the ropes of pastoral ministry.
Pastor Norm built into my life that summer to an extent that I cannot explain to you. He let me preach 8 times and I am sure the people of the church were thinking, “OK, Norm, give him a shot or two but 8 times?!?! Have pity on us!” Pastor Norm stopped using my name and started calling me “The Preacher.” After every message I went in to his office and asked for a critique. Every time he said, “That was just great. There is nothing I know to make that better.” (OK, so he wasn’t a homilitician.) The point was that Pastor Norm was the first one to believe in me—far before I believed in myself. He included me in pastoral duties. He had me read Psalm 23 at a funeral and then drove straight to the bank and cashed the $30 honorarium check and gave me half of it. He had comforted the family, interacted with the funeral director, run the entire service, preached, prayed, and led the singing. Then he gave me $15 for reading six Bible verses. He had me teach adult Sunday School. He arranged a free house for us for the summer. He motivated the Body of the little church to give us a love offering to get back to school and they were very generous with us—these were much needed funds. Pastor Norm took me under his wing for the entire summer.
Pastor Norm built in to my life in a way that permanently shaped me.
Only years later did I realize all that he had done for me. Unfortunately Pastor Norm had already passed away. I wrote a long and detailed letter to his widow just to say what I wish I had said to him. I am still intellectually amazed and emotionally moved by what the man did to build Christ into my life and to facilitate ministry growth in me.
Pastor Norm invested in Dave Gibson and Dave Gibson barely realized at the time what a gift he was being given. Pastor Norm is one of the first people I am looking up in heaven to give him a big hug and say, “Thank you so much! I didn’t even realize the magnitude of the gift you were giving me.”
I told you that story to say this: It would make an eternal difference for you to invest in some other people—and you would love doing it. In eternity there would be a bunch of people looking you up to give you a big hug and say, “Thank you so much! I didn’t even realize the magnitude of the gift you were giving me.”
This Sunday we are beginning a series out of 2 Timothy called “Invested!” We are working through the entire Book of 2 Timothy to understand what God is saying to us and to see how we can invest in others as Paul invested in Timothy.
Pastor Norm was no Apostle Paul and Dave Gibson was no Timothy. But, just like Paul and Timothy, both of us got in on the blessing of an “Invested!” relationship.
Do you want in?