When a famous person dies, they are eulogized in the media. But what about when an ordinary pastor goes to his reward?
What if he finished strong, stayed married to the same woman, served his denomination well, and pastored people so well they called him their "lifetime pastor?"
Such a man was Pastor Garold Boatwright (1930-2015) from Zellwood, Florida, who was resurrected into his glorified body on October 1. You never saw him on the cover of a magazine or featured on a national television ministry. But, he was a giant of a man spiritually. And, I know he was given a royal welcome into heaven by his Savior who said "well done, good and faithful servant."
You'll forgive me if I'm not objective about him. He was my father and he was my hero. I believe his life gives examples from which all pastors can learn.
A Faithful Jesus Follower For 65 Years
Garold Boatwright was a pastor with his co-pastor Joyce Boatwright (my mother) as Senior Pastor for 45 years and then as an Assistant Senior's pastor for the remaining 20 years in the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). My father took the words of our Savior in Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17 at face value when he said to "follow me". You see my father wanted to be a sports writer more than anything and then the Lord called him to be a pastor. Unlike myself and so many others in the body, he didn't attempt to get Jesus to follow him in his endeavors but instead followed the Lord.
An Encourager of Saints
He was always an encourager of saints. He always had a positive word for them in their walk with Jesus. He lived, worked, and played in their midst. In Ephesians 4:11, pastors are next to last on the list, but Scripture also tells us that "the first shall be last, and the last first." Our Savior was and is a Shepherd, which is a precursor to the word pastor. It is such a blessed calling to be where the sheep are located. We don't know the number of eventual pastors that were encouraged under the shepherding of my father but it is a mighty legacy. He pastored many churches and always spoke in an edifying manner concerning all the bride of Jesus and all the individual members of the body.
An Intimate Relationship With Jesus
My father's first love was Jesus. He learned to rest in his grace and walked daily in the garden with the Lord. It showed to the world around him. The joy of the Lord, which was my dad's strength, sustained him for the trying years physically he had before the Lord took him home. The Lord's grace sustained him and the Lord's grace that took him home at the perfect time. The Lord's ways are not our ways. We can't see around the next bend, but God can. The Lord is perfect in all his ways and that includes the taking home of my father.
Faith For His Son
I wasn't always the best son. In fact, as a preacher's kid, I went my own way for a long time. But my dad kept praying for me. Jesus transformed me from the inside out April 13, 2014. He transformed my heart, my mind, my body, my soul, and my spirit. I finally realized what real joy consisted of. In his last months, I grew closer to my father than I ever had. We were able to have scriptural revelations together and visions for the kingdom. We prayed for each other and claimed victory in Jesus together. My situation was a reward to my father for his "raising me up in the way I should go" and an answer to my parents' years of prayer for their children.
It was my joy over the last 18 months, since I began following Jesus, to have my dad say "I am proud of you my son; keep doing what you're doing."
The day after Dad's resurrection, the Lord brought to me one of the verses from "Amazing Grace": "Tis grace that brought me safe thus far ... and grace will lead us home."
This is borne out in the outpouring of condolences to my mother and the family from all over the globe. Dad and Mom's parishioners speak of them as their lifelong pastors. My friends and acquaintances would always remark, "Your dad doesn't talk down to me like most preachers." My father reflected the light of the one who lived in him to the world around him. People are never the same when they come in contact with Jesus.
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead landed as tongues of fire on my Dad's shoulders when he was called to be a pastor and He transformed my sin-sick soul to real life. He continues to call the lost to Him.
It allows all of us, including my dad, to sing, "it is well, it is well with my soul." It is now my honor to serve Christ in several ministries, and it brings a smile to my face when I say "I'm about my Father's work."
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