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“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2 CSB

At my age, I have heard a lot of pastors preach.  I am grateful for them all, but there is one pastor who is above all the rest for me.  Reverend T. Donald Hamilton is a man I will never forget.  I can see his smiling face as I write these words.  He was my very first pastor at Tidal Presbyterian church and I loved him.  I cannot remember a time when I did not see him smiling. He loved to laugh, he loved the Steelers.  I remember my father commenting the Rev. Hamilton couldn’t preach a sermon without a Steeler analogy in it somewhere.  Whether that is true or not, I honestly can’t remember. But I do know this, Rev. Hamilton loved me as one of his flock my whole life.  Long after we had left the hills of Tidal, he never lost touch with us. He always knew what was going on in our lives. The only request we could not fulfill for my mother’s funeral was having him perform the ceremony, he was too sick.  He passed away not too long after Mom. Reverend Hamilton taught me about Jesus, not only through his sermons, but through his life long friendship with my family.

We take pastors for granted.  We don’t realize the sacrifices they are making with their own families when they are sitting vigil with us in the hospital.  We don’t realize the time and effort they put into their messages, trying to help us know and love God better. We have no idea how hard it is, week after week, getting up and preaching to a congregation that shows no emotion, and doesn’t engage.  One of my friends who has been a pastor for over 40 years says this about being called into ministry, “Try and do anything else, and if you still feel called, then you know it is of God.” Being a pastor isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. Being a pastor is a commitment to love the flock God gives you, to shepherd them and help them battle the enemy attacks.  Being a pastor is a lifetime commitment that can only be understood if you are one. I learned that from Reverend Hamilton by the example he set.

I am thankful for Reverend Hamilton because he introduced me to Jesus.  I’ll never forget the Sunday when I was 12 years old. I can’t remember the content of the message, but I remember the way it made me feel.  His message that day had left me with an urgency to ask Jesus into my life like never before, and so I did. My life has never been the same.

I’m thankful for pastors.  What are you thankful for today?

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