Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to know, and sometimes even work with, nationally recognized pastors. Sometimes I’ve been attracted to the quality of life in these men, and sadly at other times I’ve been a little disappointed. That’s just the way it goes when you’re talking about redeemed human beings. But today I want to talk about a man that impressed me – a pastor named Ray Stedman. If you were to pop up Wikipedia’s summary on Ray Stedman it would tell you “Ray Stedman was an evangelical Christian pastor, and author. He was a long-time pastor of Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California, and author of several books. . . At the height of his career . . . he was speaking internationally . . . and regarding Ray’s impact, Chuck Swindoll said, ‘Ray Stedman is what I want to be when I grow up.'” Ray was as influential in the American church during the 70’s & 80’s as the Bill Hybels and Rick Warrens et. al. are in our generation.
I was blessed to meet and come to know Ray as a young boy. Ray had taken my dad under his wing and helped nurture his faith and leadership at a pivotal time in his life as a pastor. As a result of this connection, my dad would invite Ray Stedman to come to our little town church in Livermore CA to speak. Even as a little kid, I really enjoyed hearing him speak about the Word of God. But there are two things that really stood at to me about Ray. First, Ray was approachable. He came over to our house after speaking and had Sunday dinner with us, and he actually talked to 7-year-old me. He was personally interested in who I was and what I thought about God even as a young boy. It really surprised me and excited me that a man of his stature would be that interested in little old me. The other thing that stood out to me was the fact that Ray believed in the “pastoral ride along.” Ray always had a young man who was training to become a pastor ride along with him to his speaking engagements. Every time Ray came to town he brought a new cool young man to our church and to our home. I loved meeting these guys! Ray was investing in them, showing them the ropes, and equipping them to go out and “equip the saints for the work of service.” That just seemed like such a good idea to me even at age 7.
In my mind, a good pastor emulates the things I observed in Ray Stedman. A good pastor treats everyone equally; young or old, rich or poor, believer or unbeliever. A good pastor also takes people with him or her, and equips them to carry on the work of God’s kingdom. What are your thoughts?