One of the great features of a blog is its versatility. I can write about whatever I please. This means that sometimes I write about topics that may be of particular interest to a wider audience; there will also be times when my post has less appeal to a general audience but has great significance for a more concentrated group of people. This post is primarily for the latter; though I certainly hope that this post is widely received.
In 1 Thessalonians 5, the Apostle Paul concludes his first letter to the church at Thessalonica. From 5:12 to the end of the epistle he shares a number of exhortations with the Thessalonians. These commands range from doing good to “one another” (referring Christians relating to other Christians) and to everyone (referring to Christians relating to non-Christians), pray without ceasing, do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesies, and live holy lives, to name a few. The very first one in this list is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,  and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” The NLT (New Living Translation) paraphrases this verse as follows: “Think highly of them and give them your wholehearted love because of their work.” The “them” is a reference to those who serve in the area of spiritual leadership in the church, men commonly referred to as “Pastors” or “Elders.” Now, it may seem to you that this is an interesting coincidence: a pastor writing about how others ought to honor and love pastors—just a touch on the self-serving side, right? Before you impugn me, this post is not about me, it’s about a Pastor who is worthy of such “wholehearted love because of their work”—Pastor Doug McLachlan.
Pastor McLachlan has faithfully served as the pastor of Fourth Baptist Church for a total of nearly two decades. This has come in two phases. The first phase was from 1982-1987 and then again from 1994 to the present. His tenure as Pastor of Fourth Baptist ends on May 20, 2007. While he will cease to hold the office of Pastor, his impact will not soon be forgotten. Let me say before I continue that I don’t desire to eulogize him, for he is not dead! I do, however, wish to honor him, in obedience to Paul’s command and out my “wholehearted love” for him. His influence is widespread because of his travel in the recent past as the president of Central Seminary (in addition to shepherding Fourth Baptist). This often entailed a fairly rigorous preaching and teaching schedule throughout the country. I have sat under his preaching as a member of Fourth Baptist Church since 1998 and his teaching during my seminary days. What has been most influential has been his genuine concern to shepherd those in his congregation. Julie and I have personally been the recipients of his pastoral care during some dark chapters in our married life. In 2003 our second daughter, Katherine Julia, was found to have polycystic kidney disease while still in the womb. She was born and died on April 12, 2003. A short while after her birth, Julie had been taken out of the room to receive post-natal care. I was alone in the hospital room mourning over Katherine as she lay lifeless in the hospital basinet which so often contains a healthy, newborn baby. As I cried over her, he entered. He hugged me and I buried my face on his shoulder and the emotions flowed freely and openly. At that moment, he was not only a pastor but in one sense he was also a much needed father as Paul was to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
I can share many other instances of his care, numerous reminders that he was praying for me and Julie, sharing his much needed wisdom and insight as we endeavored to plant Bible Baptist Church, and even his “tough love” when necessary. In short, he has done so much more for me than shepherd me (which is no easy task. Certainly I have been the cause of at least one or two of his gray hairs!). By his example, he has taught me how a good under-shepherd relates to God’s people. There is no doubt that he would want nothing less than all who read this post to love, above all, Jesus Christ, the great “Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25); Pastor McLachlan’s life and message have consistently pointed to our Savior.
So Pastor McLachlan, as you and Marie enter into a new phase of service according to the Father’s will, I want you and others to know that I esteem you highly and wholeheartedly love you because of your faithful service, godly example, excellent expository preaching, your pastoral care for me and my family, and loyalty to the great Shepherd of our souls.