I definitely would have had trouble coming up with a title for this post if it wasn’t for Pastor Bill (since he has been referring to all of our goodbye messages to Brad this week in this manner!). As you all know, Pastor Brad has taken a call in Florida so his last Sunday with us is tomorrow.
Ever since I knew he had accepted this call with another church, I felt compelled to write a post dedicated to all the many ministry lessons I have learned from him. Brad is super modest so this will probably embarrass him, but I’ve learned so much from him that I can’t help but “pass it on” to all of you & celebrate his years in service to Westminster and send him off to be great somewhere new.
- Doing ministry with Brad made me look like I knew what I was doing even when I did not. Brad has been the ultimate co-worker and fellow Pastor. Brad and I both worked as Associates under our Senior Pastor. I am so thankful for the collegiality that the three of us have shared over my three and half years at Westminster. Let me preface this point by saying that Bill is soooooo gracious to have always equally valued Brad and I and our ministry insights. However, I heard once that one of the things you should never say to your boss is that you don’t know how to do something, and Brad has allowed me to avoid saying this to our Senior Pastor almost all the time. Since Brad has been a pastor almost twice as long as me, I have been blessed to be able to run into his office and ask him how to do something when I wasn’t sure quite how to make it happen on my own. And – Brad has been content to remain in the background and never point out where my knowledge directly came from. He has been such a support to me (and really all of our staff) and he just wants everyone to do their best, to be at their best, and for Christ to triumph through our ministry that he selflessly makes us all look good … which leads me to another rad characteristic about Brad (see what I did there ;-):
- Doing ministry with Brad has reminded me what the ultimate team player in ministry looks like. Brad has everyone else’s back. He takes Ephesians 4:29 very seriously:
29 You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.
I have rarely, if ever, heard Brad say an unkind word about another. Even when he is frustrated, he maintains his integrity and upholds his love for others in the name of Jesus Christ above all else. He has a beautiful way of staying out of drama, gossip, and toxic behavior. And you can tell it stems from his desire to serve God and love others. And this type of accountability and integrity makes everyone around him aware and cognizant of what they do and say as well. He holds himself to a higher standard and inspires others to do so as well. I thank him for challenging me int his way just by rising above and refusing to be anything but encouraging to others.
- Part of ministry is to make others number one. I mentioned this when I had the privilege for praying for Brad, his family, and his new ministry last weekend, but each time I walked into Brad’s office to ask for his advice, talk something through, or just needed someone to listen, he put down whatever he was working on and gave me his full attention. It seems like such a small thing, but in a world where everything competes, he worked hard to make sure I knew he valued my presence and whatever it was I had to say. Even though he is a VERY verbal person, he is a great listener. I am going to miss walking into his office and feeling so comfortable and supported, but I hope I can continue to work on making others feel the same when they come into my presence.
- Brad makes ministry light and deep all at the same time. Brad has this amazing part of his personality that makes things light and fun even when something as serious as eternal salvation is at stake. He just naturally lightens the mood in a room without taking away from productivity. He’s fun to be around and you can tell he loves what he’s doing. He is extremely relate-able without sacrificing who he stands for and I’m not sure I’ve ever served with a pastor who has balanced this ability to be authentic inside and outside of Christian community as effectively, yet consistently (without sacrificing his identity in Christ) as Brad has and will continue to do. His language, his actions, his entire life – they point to Jesus, but somehow he draws people in – both Christians and non-Christians alike.
- Brad is your buddy. It’s actually hard NOT to feel close to Brad. I’m not a super emotional or sentimental person (one of my favorite quotes between my best friend and I in college was, “I don’t do sentimental.”), but Brad seems to be fast friends with everyone he meets. It probably relates to some of the other wonderful qualities above, but he makes you feel comfortable and he is ridiculously likeable. He laughs at himself, invites you into his life by telling you special stories about his family and kids, and takes time to find out what you’re really good at and then doesn’t hesitate to sincerely compliment you about the stuff you do well and build you up in the areas that you are weak all the time. You just feel closer to Christ being around Brad and that’s a tough thing for any one of us flawed human beings to make happen.
If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m going to miss Brad A TON. It has been an absolute dream working with him and Bill for the last three and a half years. I told him in complete seriousness that I was glad his new church did not call me as a reference and ask me to talk about his weaknesses because I would have had trouble coming up with any (and you may think I’m just being nice, but if you knew me, you would know that – I’m just not burdened by the personality trait of being too nice). I give God the ultimate Thanks (capital T) for putting Brad and I in the same time and space for ministry and I will never forget him and all he has taught me. I look forward to seeing him absolutely blow away his new church with how much the Holy Spirit works through him and how he satisfied with nothing less than his very best and the very best of those around him. Thank you Brad for all you have done for me (and our church) as a colleague in ministry for the past three and half years – for being patient with me, for supporting me even when I was wrong, and for pushing me to be better than I would have been without you. Christ be with you until we meet again.