pastor (4)

pastor: n. a Christian minister; a shepherd
(#4 in a 22-part series)

To understand what’s going on with this series, read the intro to the first installment (posted Mon., Oct. 2).

Stanley Sayers. Stanley blessed me years before we knew each other. He did that by being a prolific reader and an accomplished author.

Understand, I grew up an avid reader and the bookcase along the north wall of my parent’s living room was my primary library. I grew up reading virtually everything my parents placed on the shelves there. The World Book Encyclopedia (yes, I read, not merely referenced, encyclopedias). Hardback copies of American Heritage magazine (my favorite). Years and years of The Reader’s Digest (my second favorite). Volumes of biographies on World War Two veterans from Oklahoma. Two Dr. Seuss books. Issues of ‘Popular Science’ and ‘The Voice of Freedom.’ A picture Bible. Many letters from my grandmothers and some of my aunts. Religious tracts that my Grandmother Smith mailed us. Assorted books and magazines from the far right of the political spectrum (e.g. – John Birch Society material).

And … a handful of religious books, nearly all of them authored by a man named Stanley Sayers. His work entitled For This Cause I read again and again. (I don’t have a clue how his books got on our shelf, but I suspect they were likely either gifts from my Grandma Smith or from a very close family friend, Louis Chenault, who was a deacon in the Northside Church of Christ in my hometown … where Stanley preached during a portion of my growing up years).

Now when I first enrolled in the Westside School of Preaching (1978), Stanley was one of the instructors there and was also one of the first instructors that I met. I’d never met anyone who had written a book before nor anyone I had knowledge of having had authored articles for magazines. That was true though it was one of my distant kin who founded and edited ‘The Voice of Freedom.’ I mentioned such to him when we were introduced and, much to my delight, we talked books and writing in practically every conversation we ever shared in the years following. Time and again, standing together in his study, he’d think of something in a book that he’d want to show me, walk over to one of the shelves, find the volume, and almost immediately turn to the selection he wanted me to read, usually just a few sentences or paragraph. Simply amazing. Further, his tremendous memory was exceeded by his great kindness and thoughtfulness, ever abundant and free.

Thank you, Stanley, for nurturing within me the joy of learning, the love of religious reflection and writing, the value and importance of printed words, the need to understand the views of others and to learn from them, and the deep conviction that can come from all of those matters combined. You spoke to me most, ministered to me best, and in a sense you still do, through the printed word, and I will ever be grateful for that.