In the summer of 2021, my second favorite pastor resigned the pastorate of my home church to take another in Florida. I had known Victor Massey since we were young. Our fathers were ministers together, long before Victor became my second favorite pastor. I said he was my second favorite since my dad, Bucky Rizzo, was a pastor and will always be my favorite. But until August of 2021, Victor Massey was my second favorite.
Then my church had a rather lengthy pastoral search while Pastor Lane Sargent, one of our retired former pastors, served as our interim and my second favorite pastor for about ten months. During that time the deacons prayed to find God’s will for who our pastor should be. Different individuals in the congregation indicated they believed it was God’s will for this one or that one to be our pastor. Yet I do not believe God cares. I do not mean God is unconcerned, but having given us free will he provides us opportunities to make wise choices and will give us wisdom in the process according to James 1:5. I really do not see that there is scriptural support to indicate that God has one particular person selected for every pastoral position or most any other role in the church or government or community or anywhere else. The task is not to ascertain the elusive and secret will of God. Instead, scripture teaches that we are much more responsible for our decisions and the consequences of our choices than we might like, which is why we should pray for wisdom.
With that theological understanding, I prayed for wisdom and when the pastoral vote was taken, I voted for someone whom I felt met the scriptural guidelines of a pastor and would be a good match for our congregation. But that is not who was selected. Instead in March 2022, Harv Turner became my second favorite pastor. Along with Pastor Harv, his wonderful wife Kelley became a part of our church family. Shortly after, his father, a retired minister himself, and his mother joined the congregation. And we are working to entice his son, daughter-in-law, and daughter to move to Sumiton.
I like Pastor Harv, my second favorite pastor. He is personable and a tad high energy. Early on, I noticed that he calls the names of members of the congregation as he preaches. It is a rhetorical device to engage the congregation, a way to connect new faces with names, and sometimes just something fun to do. Mine was one of the names he called, and I began to rib him about it on social media, keeping a tally of how many times he mentioned me. He was good natured and played along.
Recently Pastor Harv ran into me at lunch on campus. (He tried to sneak away, but I caught him.) We shared a meal and a conversation, which ran the gamut. Partly we talked about his experiences as a pastor, his father’s, my father’s, and even mine as a past music pastor. My dad more than once said that pastoring should be one of the most enjoyable jobs in the world, but people – Christians – make it difficult. The Apostle Paul surely knew this, which is why in 1 Thessalonians 5:13 he admonishes “to esteem them [pastors and church leaders] very highly in love for the work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” In the conversation with Pastor Harv, I alluded to this scripture. I try to follow it, though I know at times I have failed. But this is the way my favorite pastor raised me.
I certainly hope I demonstrate my love and respect for Pastor Harv, whether he calls my name in his sermons or not. But I think he will keep calling my name. If you are a believer and live in the area but do not have a pastor, come meet mine. His name is Harv. I think you would like him if you met him.
On the other hand, if you are not a believer you need a savior. His name is Jesus. I know he has been calling your name much longer and with deeper love than Pastor Harv has been calling mine. And you would love him if you met him.