Yesterday, January 6, 2013, was an emotional day at my home church--Erlanger Baptist in Erlanger, Ky.
I watched my brother, watch his pastor, ordain my nephew.
What has lingered deeply in me about that event is the power of obedience. And yes, I have a lot of pride in my oldest brother, but I am convinced that the principles here are completely transferable to every Christ-follower on the planet.
Let's start with my brother, Rusty. Not many years ago he began to have a new string of obediences. It wasn't that he was living a life filled with "sex, drugs and rock-n-roll" or any similar moniker of sin. Watching from the outside, it appeared more like he was increasingly concerned with saying "yes" to God than saying "no" to other stuff. Of course the results may look similar, because saying yes to God invariably means saying no to other things. But it looked to me more like being focused on what God was saying to do and doing it. It didn't appear as much like struggling to say no to less Godly choices.
To continue with Rusty, this spilled into his role as chair of the pastor search team in 2011-2012. It was his passion to lead that process with Godly wisdom, with great diligence, and with compassion and integrity. From everything I have seen, he did this well. So the pastor who ordained my nephew was doing so--in some part--because Rusty was obedient to God in his role as Christ-follower, church member, and team leader. I'm sure my big brother's desire to be obedient was not easy to maintain. But he was obedient, and Dwight became the pastor at EBC in 2012.
Now Dwight was also living a Godly life, serving on a large staff with a large staff at a great church in Tennessee. The role as pastor at Erlanger was one of "picking up the pieces" and working with God to rebuild something that may resemble the job Nehemiah had with the wall surrounding Jerusalem. Not everything, but many things were in shambles. And so Dwight was obedient to the call of God to move north, take a large salary cut, leave a healthy ministry, and walk into a ministry that needed (and needs) to become healthy.
One of Dwight's acts of obedience, it seems on this day after Epiphany, was to make my nephew--Jeremy--the full time and permanent youth pastor. Jeremy already had a path of obedience that led to this place, and we'll come back to that in a moment. But Dwight's risk was significant. In the world of church dynamics and politics, it might have appeared to be wrong for the pastor called by my brother's team to hire the son of my brother so "determinedly." Yet Dwight saw what so many of us have seen: the call of God on my nephew's life.
Hang with me. Almost there...
Jeremy has been on this path for years, though he is only in his mid-twenties. It began to blossom in large part during his college days at Northern Kentucky University. (Which involved the obedience of another Godly man, Brian Combs, but I'm trying to keep this brief!) And as Jeremy worked his warehouse job he would listen to podcast after podcast of sermons, wrestle with deep and deeply personal theological constructs. And then he would spend time pouring into the lives of people in ways described by young leaders like David Platt (in Radical) and Francis Chan (in Crazy Love). Jeremy has been so consumed with saying yes to God, that he's had little time to say yes to less Godly options.
And at the conclusion of the ordination service, the pastor called upon my brother to close the ordination service of his son in prayer. Rusty quoted God's words to His Son Jesus, paralleling his heart for his own son: "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."
And this morning it hit me. I imagine those were the words God spoke over his son Rusty, and his son Dwight, and his son Jeremy.
Few things bring pride and pleasure to a father like obedience.