I am the College Minister at Desert Springs Church and often times for me this means leading younger people and hoping to be someone worth imitating in as far as I work to imitate the Lord, failing often at this. I am not an elder, and am so blessed to have Bill Anderson as the elder/pastor (same word, the NT does not show a difference) over the ministry and me. Having Mr. Anderson (you have to say this like the Agent from The Matrix) as my elder means we try to meet once a week. Often we talk about the ministry, but more than not this is just a time of talking about life. This past Wednesday morning we met at Starbucks (where all good meetings take place) and when I got there he was sitting with another older man. I went and got my coffee and sat down to listen to their conversation. This man was disclosing to Bill his struggles with his marriage and his serious contemplation about divorce. It was a very, very sobering discussion. The man at times was angry and blunt about his anger, he cussed, and he spoke harshly of his family, things that honestly made me uncomfortable. I sat and listened and learned so much from Bill’s response to this man. He did not tell him to watch his language; he did not condemn the man or even argue with him. Bill instead showed love, patience and care in the way he honestly listened to this man. Bill showed a pastoral heart for this man (not sure if he was a Christian) by urging the man to press on and fight for his marriage; he shared personal stories about life and struggles he faces. Bill did not give “good” simple Christian answers, but was real and honest with this man, yet never strayed away from Biblical Counseling; it was amazing in how he handled this situation. I was able to share with this man some of my own story of struggles, but only because I saw Bill do this first.
I share this story to first say how blessed I am to be in a body with elders like we have here at DSC. These are men who have jobs and busy lives, but who also take time to live life alongside people in and outside the church! Bill was the definition of missional in the sense that whenever I meet him at Starbucks there are at least 4-5 people that stop and say hi and talk about what is going on in their life with him. Just the fact that this guy had been sharing very personal stories with Bill shows that trust and a real relationship had been built.
Young punks like myself are so quick to say the church should be this way or that way, this past Wednesday was a time for me to shut up and learn (which I should do the majority of the time). I saw that being an elder/pastor means loving people, I mean really loving them, willing to walk through life with them even in the mess and gutters. This is what Bill Anderson, Tim Bradley, Ryan Kelly, Tim Ray, Barry Lawrence and Ron Giese do and model for our body, not perfectly but in a way that points to the grace of God! This is why we need “Pauls” in our life, we have so much to learn, so much to gain from these relationships, without them we are often heading into battle with no map, and no direction.