This is a reprint of a Wesley’s Horse blog I wrote two years ago. Today I officiated at the funeral for Pastor Acheson. My life has been grace by this wonderful man of God.
In praise of mentors!
I was called to be pastor of the Westside Church in August of 1996, I was about to turn forty. He had been retired for about 14 years. When I moved to town he was working at a local cleaners. Pastor Acheson was sharp both in body and spirit. I devised a plan. I would ask Pastor Acheson to come back on staff and serve the church as ‘assoicate’ Pastor. I asked him to meet me for breakfast at Bob Evans (this would be the first of many meetings at our favorite dining establishment). Somewhere during the breakfast, I stated that I felt I owed him an apology on behalf of all of us younger pastors who were enjoying the fruits of their ministry labors. I apologized that we would allow a person of his stature to be in a place where he had to spend his retirement years working in a dry cleaners. He raised his hand and said “Pastor, I was able to lead two or three people to the Lord, because I worked in that place.” “Don’t feel sorry for me.” Even recalling it now, I have a lump in my throat. I would come to know, that this was truly how he operated his life. My plan that morning was to offer him a part-time position. He was so enthused and somehow before I had left the restaurant, he had decided with my agreement that he would be our full-time associate pastor. What a journey it was! There are so many stories. I told him that he could marry anyone who asked, he should feel free if asked by any family to conduct their loved ones funeral services.I never asked Pastor Acheson to be my mentor. I did not know much about it, but he was and is my mentor to this very day. I wanted to tell you a few things I learned by observing Pastor Acheson:
1 If you love people, they will by and large love you back. To watch him move among people, was to watch a real shepherd at work. He taught me by his example, that at the end of the day, we are still called to care and love the sheep.
2 A Servants heart is indispensable for a pastor. His heart for service was always, it seemed the driving force of his life.
3 Holiness is attainable. You can be godly in this life!
4 Leadership is a gift and it can be learned as well. I do not want to give you the impression that Pastor Acheson was all sweetness and light. He had a tough side as well. He would pray and make up his mind and move full speed ahead. I remember one time as he had his arm around some one’s shoulders, talking them into what he wanted them to do, that he was in a sense a “sanctified-steamroller.” (ha-ha) I think the way that Carl Sandburg described Abraham Lincoln could be said of Pastor Acheson, “Steel wrapped in velvet’. I learned that as a leader sometime you have to make tough decisions, and you will have to live with the results of those decisions. Pastor Acheson taught me that as well.
5 You can have fun and be a Christian! He was never sour or dour, he was serious and yet at the same time one of the funniest person I have ever known.
Susanne and I just recently (July 31st) had lunch and spent part of the afternoon with the Acheson’s in their apartment at the former “Westside Village.” What a time we had! As we recounted the ‘good old days’, Pastor Acheson said, my ministry now is to take care of Dolly. They have been married 72 years! The last lesson, the one I took away last Saturday was this, be loyal and loving to your family.
I have tried to think of what would be the best way I could honor R. B. and Dolly Acheson, and I believe I have found it: I want to spend the rest of my life loving God, and loving people and loving my family.
To the mentors among us, we are eternally grateful for the impact your lives have had on our lives, and we know we have not told you often enough how much we love you and thanks for being the influence you have been. In a world where true friend seem few. I have been blessed with the mentors God has gifted me with.
THANKS FOR BEING THE LIGHT IN DARK PLACES, THANKS FOR BEING AUTHENTIC AND REAL, THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR HEART AND YOUR LIFE.
I am indeed the better for having had you in my life.