A GAME-CHANGING QUESTION
Years ago, a friend asked me a question that has helped me focus on an aspect of my purpose in life. He said, “John Ed, who are you influencing to do what you’ve been doing when you are no longer here to do it?”
Great question! A game-changer! It involves intentional prioritizing, mentoring, and training.
I had a good African-American friend who died in July 2020 who did the best job in answering that question. His name was Dr. G.W.C. Richardson, Pastor of the Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church. I once asked him what G.W.C. stood for, and he proudly said, “That stands for George Washington Carver.” He invited me to preach there on several different occasions. He trained 169 pastors who went out from his church!
His first invitation to me was to come preach on a weeknight and to bring some of those good singers we had at Frazer. I questioned if people would come out on a weeknight. He said, “They will if you bring your singers along with you!” They had watched on television and knew about the great music program at Frazer.
I told our music minister, Joe Pat Cox, about the request. He suggested taking the Good News Singers, an ensemble of 16 good voices. He gave me the titles of their songs, and one of them was “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” I was surprised and said, “Joe Pat, you know, that Swing Low is a great African-American song. This is an African-American church. We don’t know how to sing it like they sing it.”
I’ll never forget hearing them sing that number. The church house was full, and they applauded vigorously. Dr. Richardson looked over at me, smiled, and said in a whisper that could be heard by most people in the church, “They tried, John Ed, they tried!”
Every year, Hutchinson had a race relations Sunday. I preached that service for five consecutive years. They always recognized an organization in the city that had done the best to improve race relations. A great moment was when the recipient was the Montgomery Police Department! I have thought about that recognition a lot of times in the last few months.
I remember the first time I went into Dr. Richardson’s office. It looked more like a parlor in a home. I asked him how he could keep it so neat. He smiled and said, “Follow me.” We went over to the back corner of the office where there was a door. When he opened it, I looked into another room that was his “study office.” It looked a lot like mine!
I commented about how nicely Dr. Richardson always dressed. He said, “My church sends me to The Hub to get several new suits every year. Does your church do the same thing for you?” I told him that was not a custom my church knew about (but they would soon!). He called his old suits “revival suits” that he wore when he preached in churches without air conditioning!
Dr. G.W.C. Richardson died, but he has left 169 trained pastors to continue his work – along with thousands of laypeople he trained to do ministry. He is enjoying his heavenly reward today, and his work on earth is expanding exponentially!
Who are you preparing to do your work when you are no longer here?