The new year often provides time for reflection. 2017 will mark 33 years of full-time preaching for me. During those years, I have found myself in quite a few interesting situations. Those who think the life of a preacher must be stuffy and boring need to spend some time with me. I thought I’d share a few fun and not so fun experiences over the past 33 years.
- I once baptized a young man in a creek, but before I put him under, I went under myself as the bottom of the creek bed suddenly disappeared.
- I followed a rather short man in my first located work. I never thought about needing to buy new baptismal waders. So at my first baptism, I attempted to stuff my size 13 feet into a size 9 boot and my “XL” self into a “M” pair of waders. My toes were curled under and the suspenders were pulled as tight as they would go. So when I bent over to baptize the lady, the suspenders could take no more, snapping in the back, and shooting like a slingshot over my shoulders.
- I once baptized a man who refused to wear any clothes, just his adult diaper. Of course the diaper soon absorbed water, and the weight of it caused it to sink to the bottom of the baptistery. Guess who had to go back in after it following the baptism.
- I once led a funeral procession to the grave site. As we walked to the grave, a frog jumped across our path and nearly everyone in the procession, except the pall bearers, took off after that frog, falling all over the ground trying to catch it. Also, before the burial was finished, two of the “mourners” got into a fist fight.
- I may have been asked to conduct a funeral for the “meanest man on earth.” The reason I say that is that no one showed up for his funeral. Not even his wife and children. In fact, his wife said to me, “Good riddance!” Instead of preaching a funeral, I helped three other funeral home workers carry his casket to his grave.
- A member of the church where I once preached had a “secret hide-out” in the crawl space under our house until we discovered it. He had flashlights, reading materials, and a pretty cozy setup under our bedroom floor.
- I had a man show up at church one day and tell me that God told him that he was to be my new associate minister and he wanted to know where his new office would be. I told him that until God confirmed the hire with me, it was no deal.
- My sermons have been disrupted by emergency personnel at least a dozen times due to someone fainting, or having a heart-attack.
- My “trip of a lifetime” nearly ended in tragedy when a lady stumbled into me when I was standing at the edge of the Arbel Cliffs overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
- I’ve been praised for some sermons, ignored for others, and nearly skinned alive for yet others. And sometimes, I’m not sure which is which like when a lady met me at the door after I preached a sermon on Hell and said, “Steve, I want you to know that I didn’t know what Hell was like until I heard you preach.”
- I’ve been privileged to preach in 5 countries and 23 states.
- I’ve had a gun pointed at my head and robbed at a church building in AL. I was threatened to be shot by an abusive husband of one of our members in WV. A man once threatened to burn my house down in KY. At least five times, someone has threatened to “beat me up.” My office has been burglarized everywhere I’ve preached, once by a man who I surprised while he was still in my office. He was dressed in army fatigues, had a “Duck Dynasty” beard, and was mumbling something about murder…I gave him what money I had in my wallet and he left. I also rushed to a man’s home one Christmas Eve after he called me and informed me he had stabbed himself in the chest with a butcher knife; he had.
If I had it all to do over again, would I change anything? Of course I would! What kind of nut do you think I am! 🙂 But would I change my decision to spend my life preaching the gospel? Absolutely not! I love preaching. I love my brethren. And I love the Lord who has sustained me for the past 33 years.