This post is authored by Tony Jones.
Tony is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Rich Hill, MO. He blogs at http://thespiritualwoodshed.com/.
He lived next door to the church, just a few feet away from the front door. He bought his house before the church building was even built, and he had seen pastors come and go. He even told me this story about a pastor they had to fire back in the 70’s who broke out the window in his office because they had locked him out of the church.
He and his wife were charter members of the church. He had done most of the electrical work for the church, from the new education wing to the new screen and projector system. He led the music for almost 50 years. When the doors to the church were open, he and his family were there.
He has been a resident of the town for 78 years. He knows everything about everyone, and if a building was built, he did the plumbing and wiring. He crawled under the church to put in the new baptistery after the church burnt twenty years ago. His seat is on the front row of the right alcove to the inside. Even when attendance had dropped off a few years ago, you could always count on him to be here. Sometimes it was just him and the pastor in the office for prayer meeting, but he was there.
These three men are my Harolds. They are the last of a dying breed. They are men who lead by example. They will not expound on great theological topics, and they could care less if you are Calvinist or Arminian. (A word of warning, be careful because these men know more theology than you might think.) Their theology comes from 1 Thessalonians 4. Paul writes, “For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, so that each one of you knows how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not with lustful desires like the gentiles who don’t know God…But we encourage you brothers, to do so even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands as we commanded you, so that you may walk properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone.” (1 Thess. 4:3-5, 10-12).
I have served three churches in my short ministry. In two of those churches, there have been Harolds. They are men who value a hard day’s work, are quiet and not quarrelsome, and who lead by example with integrity and honesty. I have always gravitated to the “Harolds” because deep down inside, that’s who I want to be.
We take these men for granted. They are difficult to get to know. It takes time, patience, and a good deal of listening. They are tough on the exterior, but inside their hearts are soft and they have a passion and compassion for people that few will ever surpass.
They don’t teach us about the “Harolds” in seminary, but many of us will pastor a church with one or two of them in our congregation. They’re in every church in America. They unlock every Sunday morning. They come to deacon’s meetings and prayer meetings and Bible study. They come and watch the children at your Awana program. They are there, listening, and they can be your biggest ally.
Let’s not take these great men for granted, because they’re only a part of our lives for a very short time. Let’s learn from the “Harolds”. There is value in being ordinary and faithful. Their names will probably never be known outside of their communities, but the impact they’ve made on this preacher will last for a lifetime. Thank you to the “Harolds” out there who serve constantly without expecting anything in return.