This is the blog that almost never was. This morning, I opened my laptop while on an airplane to email the district office with my apologies for not delivering on my promised post. But instead, I ended up writing the following. I hope it encourages you…
Less than 24 hours ago, I received the phone call that everyone with aging parents fears the most. My 71-year-old father suffered a massive heart attack while undergoing a routine examination by his cardiologist and is currently on life support at a hospital in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. I am in transit from New York, not yet clear on whether I am traveling south to say goodbye to my hero or witness a miraculous recovery. By the time this is published, God will most likely have made clear his will for my dad’s life. My family and I are at peace, trusting God’s goodness in whatever the next few days may bring.
Raised in rural North Carolina, Allen Welborn met Jesus as a 20-year-old Navy mechanic while stationed in Southern California. Soon thereafter, he surrendered his life to the ministry and enrolled in Bible college. In the five decades since, he has faithfully served the Lord Jesus Christ as a God-called and self-identified Evangelistic Pastor. He is a soul-winner in the purest sense of the word, leading untold hundreds of people to faith in Jesus Christ through his pulpit preaching and personal witness. He has maintained an unquenchable joy and tenacious faithfulness that baffles the mind when you consider his journey.
His own father died young and Dad was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes in his early 20’s which has resulted in a myriad of health issues including a heart-attack and stroke in recent years. He married his high-school sweetheart, but she passed away not long after giving birth to their fourth child (yours truly), leaving him with a house full of kids 9 years to 9 months in age. He always answered God’s call, although most of the churches he served were struggling and unhealthy. While never being accused of immorality or impropriety, he suffered the uniquely pastoral pain of being publicly or privately pushed out the door by the very same people he had loved and served for years prior. Each time, he would grieve the loss and pain, but within a few days he was joyfully trusting the Lord to provide for the needs of his family and faithfully waiting for his next assignment. He did not always know how he would pay the bills, or where we would be living in the days ahead, but he never quit trusting that God would provide and he always did.
In the months following my birth mom’s passing, God graciously provided my dad another sweetheart to marry and a fifth child to raise. My mom, four siblings and I have enjoyed a front-row seat to the relentlessness of Allen Welborn to trust God through difficult times while maintaining his unquenchable joy and tenacious faithfulness to his Lord. He’s never pastored a megachurch, he hasn’t published a book, he’s not been asked back to his college or seminary to speak in chapel, he doesn’t have a large social media following and he has never been on the cutting edge of the latest church trends (his current church still sings out of the old Baptist hymnal). But, those things have never been that important to him. There has always been a different lifelong desire of his that has always been a very high priority. In fact, in the hundreds of times I have heard him pray or speak of it, he always gets emotional. It has nothing to do with the size of his church or the trajectory of his career. This dream is that each of his five children would grow to love Jesus for themselves. And God has graciously brought this to pass. Ashley, Paul, Erin, Sheri, and I all deeply love Jesus. It’s something we all saw first and learned from our dad!
Pastoral ministry is hard on pastors, but in some ways, it is even harder on pastors’ wives and kids who experience the heartaches, but oftentimes without experiencing a personal calling from God. I’ve talked with dozens of PK’s over the years who tell stories of absent fathers due to ministry demands, or fathers who fell morally, or fathers who left the ministry because of the toll it was taking and even some fathers who died by suicide under the pressure. There are so many stories of deep pain and unresolved hurt related to being a pastor’s kid. And, while not at all perfect, my siblings and I can testify to a pastor dad who deeply loved Jesus, loved our mom, loved us, and taught us to never quit trusting God in every circumstance.
My dad doesn’t quit. He never has and he never will. The doctors informed us that, even when he was unconscious, he was physically fighting their attempts at intubation. If the Lord allows, he will recover and continue serving Jesus with unquenchable joy and relentless faithfulness. If not, he will enjoy the kind of homecoming in heaven that he always promises to others whose souls he is endeavoring to win.
Based on my own perspective on my father’s journey, which I pray is not coming to a close anytime soon, I challenge you fellow pastors to resist the temptation to quit and to stay in the fight of faith. Fight to maintain an unquenchable joy and relentless faithfulness in the work to which God has called you. Let your family and closest friends see you trusting God despite your circumstances. Believe that God is good and that true ministry success is not measured in the size of your church or the books that you publish or the stages you preach on or even the career path you walk. Ministry success is simply being obedient to the One who called you and resisting the moments of temptation to quit on the Lord.
Press on, my friends, and don’t ever quit!
Latest posts by John Welborn (see all)
- Dear Pastor…Please Don’t Quit! - September 19, 2021
- Desánimo Por La Deconstrucción - June 22, 2021
- Deconstruction Discouragement: Please Lord, Not Another One… - June 14, 2021