When we decided to run for the Pastors’ Conference, it wasn’t even clear who the candidate would be. We had an idea that we liked, discussed, and agreed to, but it was only after several long discussions that we arrived at the decision that my name would be at the top. As they continually pointed out to me, that meant that I would get a lot of the credit if things went well, but that if things went bad, it would be my name attached to the stink (and they’d make sure everyone knew I’d been in charge)!
I want to publicly thank the guys who helped out a couple of weeks ago in Phoenix. I sat up on stage listening to the garbled echoes bouncing off the back walls (that or several of the speakers were using unknown tongues), while these guys were running around doing all the work that needed to be done.
They are an odd group, to be sure. We did most of our communication on a private Facebook discussion, and the guys continually monkeyed with the name. An early name was in honor of my lime green suit. When Trump used the “bad hombres” thing, that name appeared as our group name. When Hillary labeled Trump supporters as a “bag of deplorables” the name changed to that. I went biblical and attempted to be complimentary and affirming. David had his “Mighty Men” and so I labeled the guys “Dave’s Mighty Men.” But these yahoos took another name for themselves that they actually seemed to like, “The Minions.” I don’t know who originated that, and I was never comfortable with it, but it was the one that was their favorite.
They are strange guys.
- My Chief of Staff – or whatever title we decided to use last, was the Rev. Dr. Todd Benkert. He spent untold hours putting together that wonderful program you saw and helping raise the money that paid the bills. One week, he would talk me off the ledge, then the next week, I would get him off the bridge. I think we both had a few sleepless nights over this thing. But though I was president, he was pretty much co-president.
- Techie Extraordinaire, Brent Hobbs shocked me. I’ve never said this to him, so no one tell him, okay? Brent said he wanted to work on the graphics for the conference and I was a little nervous. Lots of folks expected us to run a second-rate operation. I mean, we’ve all seen a lot of cheesy PowerPoint presentations, right? Brent is a pastor – what did he know about graphics? Evidently, quite a bit. Did you see the stuff on the ginormous TV (18’x80′?) behind us? The graphics on the banners and popups all around the venue? Brent did those. Yeah, he had some help, but he did it. And when they were up on screen, I never thought they were anything but professional looking. We could have spent thousands and not gotten anything better than what he did.
- Adam Blosser finally was old enough to vote in this election – I think he’s the baby of our group. But he stepped up in a big way. He ran our search for the 10 preachers (Todd and I each used a captain’s choice at the beginning – I chose Bart Barber, he chose Shane Hall) who would handle Philippians during the conference. Did a decent job, didn’t he? He also took over for me running this blog when I realized that the demands of the PC were not going to allow me time to do it. He was involved in leadership in several others ways. All of you who have constantly asked Ashley why on earth she married him, back off. He’s turning out okay after all. If he’d just change baseball teams.
The rest of the guys I am gonna mention alphabetically. They each contributed in big and small ways. Here’s the thing. Preachers can be difficult. We are all used to sitting in the main chair at our churches, then these guys show up and they are being given jobs that are not glamourous at all. Menial. Boring. Sweaty. And if there was a single moment of tension in the group between the guys, I wasn’t aware of it. I saw no ego. No jealousy. No one ever put himself forward. They embraced every job joyfully, willingly, and diligently. The hardest thing was keeping them all active (like teenagers, the trouble starts if they are not occupied), not getting them to do the work. It was a joy to work with them in Phoenix.
- Jay Adkins and his son Quint volunteered for what looked like the “glamor” position – runner for the Gettys. Little did they realize what that entailed. They were likely the busiest during the days of the conference – other than Todd and Brent, perhaps. If you see Jay, tell him you have an errand you need him to run.
- Mike Bergman, our newlywed, helped organize the prayer booth and was involved in many other ways.
- Alan Cross was one of our photographers and helped in a number of other ways. It isn’t easy to distinguish at times what each person did, because they all jumped in together.
- Scott Gordon was a jack of all trades. He was very involved in preacher selection and helped a lot with all the stuff that had to be done at the site.
- Doug Hibbard and his family helped me out by putting the name tags together and do countless other small things. Doug took a bunch of pictures for us. Always cheerful, always willing, always helpful. The only problem I had was Doug’s kids – they would not believe me when I told them to avoid the mac and cheese and leave it to me. Oh well.
- Mike Leake pushed for the scholarship program. Frankly, I had given up on that and was ready to abandon the idea. But it became one of the best things we did – 62 guys were offered $1000 scholarships to the convention this year. He also helped with our preacher search and in other ways.
One of the coolest things that happened (might not work out that well, come to think of it) is that our wives have become friends. We’ve been talking for a long time, now they have their own little Facebook group. That can be good. Or maybe not. Hmmm.
There were others who joined in, of course. My officers, Paul Smith and Toby Frost. Tony and Stephanie Jones were sort of honorary Minions (is that a compliment?) and there were others too numerous to mention. But I just wanted to take a moment and publicly thank the Minions.
But seriously, what kind of guys LIKE being called minions?