I suppose few of us say “thank you” as often as we should, and I know I don’t. And although it is true that I have from time to time said “thank you” to you, all of you, the entire congregation, for all you have meant to my family and me over the years, and all you have done for us, I still haven’t expressed my gratitude often enough.
So let me once again say how much I appreciate you and all you’ve done for my family and me. You’ve not only supported us financially, but you have also been dear friends who have always been there for us, encouraged us, and prayed for us. I never cease to be moved by public prayers that are offered during worship, as Christian brothers have prayed for me as the preacher for our congregation. I doubt I’ll ever forget what one of our elders said just a couple of weeks ago as he led us in prayer to God: “We thank You for our preacher.” Here was someone I love, respect, and admire who actually thanked God that I am the preacher here.
I also want you to know that I take my responsibilities here very seriously. I try to do the best job I can. I want my sermons and Bible class lessons to be the very best I can present—scriptural, informative, interesting, and motivating. And I know, despite my best efforts, that I’m not the best preacher in the world, and I often fail to reach those goals I’ve set for myself as a preacher. So your patience with me is something else I’m grateful for.
What I’m trying to get around to saying is that I know that in the past not all of you have approved of my teaching at Brown Trail. It was five years ago that I asked the congregation if I could teach full-time at the school, and at that time a bare majority of you agreed. Now, years later, that still weighs heavily on my mind. I don’t guess I think about it every day, but I doubt a week goes by that I’m not bothered by the fact that many of you then, and perhaps even now, feel I spend too much time at the school.
It doesn’t make me feel much better, but I try to remind myself that (1) training preachers is a good and necessary work, something I enjoy, (2) I only spend about ten hours each week in the classroom, (3) I’m only at Brown Trail four days a week, (4) I’m a better preacher because I teach at Brown Trail, (5) we as a congregation have benefited from our association with the school, (6) I’m still fulfilling my resonsibilites here at Plano East, and (7) most of the members here do not strongly object to me teaching at the school. I try to console myself with these thoughts, but . . . what you think means more to me.
You should know also that whatever decisions are made about my responsibilities here at the congregation and about my compensation are made by three men: Charles Raper, Ernest Houston, and Ralph Hutson. I recuse myself from those discussions and decisions. When it comes to these matters I may help out with bookkeeping and reporting, and I may make some suggestions regarding the yearly budget, but that’s the extent of it.