Last Friday, I returned to my previous pastorate to preach the funeral of L.D. Becton, who I called on facebook “one of the greatest friends a pastor could ever have.” People who did not know L.D. asked me if he was a young man, near my age, since that is logical to think that we are friends with people near our age. L.D. was 78 years old, so in today’s world, he could have been my grandfather.
L.D. was a pastor’s best friend because he supported his pastor. The day I was called to pastor First Baptist Church in Hampton, he told me, “As long as you are our pastor, you will have my support.” He would instruct prospective deacons that their main responsibility was to support their pastor as long as he was following the Lord and His Word. These were more than words to L.D., as many say those same words but back down from that commitment when they disagree with a decision or a sermon. L.D. lived this commitment.
I have been blessed with a couple of other men just like L.D., and as I think about them, this is what a pastor’s best friend looks like:
They are physically present. It is hard to support your pastor when your attendance is sporadic. Other than the Sunday following Thanksgiving and Easter, L.D. was always at church. He was in Alabama for a family gathering those two Sundays. When we had business meetings, L.D. would skip out on the meal part due to being a diabetic, but he was there by the time they business session started.
They do not rubber stamp every decision. I don’t want you to think that a pastor’s best friend is a “yes man.” L.D. asked hard questions and raised caution, but ultimately he supported my decision. There were times that he would tell me, after the fact, that he thought something would never work, but you would have never known that by his actions.
They do not tolerate murmuring. It is common in the church for leaders to listen to murmuring and then report to the pastor. A pastor’s best friend realizes that listening to such complaints gives validation. L.D. would stop people in their tracks, reminding them of the Lord’s work, and “nip it in the bud” as Barney Fife would say. There were a few times he would report his actions, but there was no action for me to take because it had been handled.
They laugh with you. L.D. would stop by the office and the house at times for the sole purpose of laughing with (or at) me. Like the time he (as a Alabama fan) left a role of toilet paper and an empty bottle of Tide on my desk. When he stopped by, it was not always serious, which was refreshing many days.
I owe much of the success of my pastoral ministry to the “pastor’s best friends” I have been blessed with. Much like Aaron and Hur held Moses’ arms in support in Exodus 17, these men have allowed me to experience victory.
These traits can be in anyone’s life. Anyone can be their pastor’s best friend. He needs you.