Monday, February 16, 2015

Living Letters of Appreciation!

Pastor David Chauncy, Dr. John Sullivan, Pastor Gary Crawford

2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone. 3It is clear that you are Christ’s letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God — not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

The man on the right in the picture is Dr. Gary Crawford who has been my pastor at Westside Baptist for almost 21 years during two phases of our lives here in Gainesville. The man in the center is Dr. John Sullivan who has been my boss as the Executive Director – Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention for the last 20 years. Gary was also my boss for the 8 years that I served on Staff at Westside Baptist from 1987-1995. The man on the left is Dr. David Chauncey who is my new pastor at Westside.

Over the last few weeks I have been at several events to mark the re-deployment of these two men. Dr. John doesn’t mind the word “retirement” but for some reason Gary doesn’t want to use it! Probably because he is looking forward to the next season of ministry and he is a bit younger than Dr. John! There was a chance for people to submit letters of appreciation to mark their end of their current ministry assignments for each of these men. I chose not to send it letters to each of them because I didn’t want mine to be one of many. Instead I wanted to let them know that just like Paul who didn’t need a letter from the Corinthians or to them to show his significance, they didn’t need a letter from me to show the significant impact their lives had on my own.

These two men have had the most influence on the kind of minister I have become over the years and thus they have influenced every student that I have worked with as well. Their influence has produced students who are currently serving in many positions around the world, some inside the church, some on the mission fields, and some in the world of “secular” employment. Although there is no such thing as a secular job when a believer is using that job as a platform for sharing the love of Jesus every chance they can!

Both of these men have demonstrated the highest integrity and character for me during trying times as leaders. They have remained steadfastly committed to the truth of the Bible. They have loved their families well and loved mine equally well. They have set the bar very high for me in my desire to serve the Lord with skillful hands and a gentle heart in the place where the Lord has me until He calls me somewhere else. They are both men who have a passion for loving Pastors of our local churches. They are both heroes of the faith to me and to many others! They have laughed with me, cried with me, comforted me, counseled me, and corrected me when needed. They have provided me a safe and secure place from which to utilize my gifts in service to the Lord for almost 30 years!

No they need no letter of recommendation from me, for their letter of recommendation continues to be read daily by those who see me and those who see the students that I have been fortunate enough to influence for the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are their letters!

Thank you Dr. John and GC for allowing the Lord to use you to mold and shape me into the man I am today! I hope that you are proud of the letter you have written to the world through my life. The process hasn’t been easy. The parchment and the writers not perfect. But I can’t imagine that my life without your influence would have been any better than it is today with it. Thank you for modeling how to finish well or in Gary’s case to transition well!

May the Lord bless and keep you!

Eddie Gilley

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