Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - OUR TOWN - bil­ly­gra­ham.org BILLY GRA­HAM Write to Billy Gra­ham in care of Billy Gra­ham Evan­ge­lis­tic As­so­ci­a­tion, 1 Billy Gra­ham Park­way, Charlotte, N.C. 28201 or visit the web­site at

DEAR REV. GRA­HAM: Our pas­tor just an­nounced that he’s re­tir­ing in a few months, af­ter al­most 40 years in our church. It has re­ally shaken us, be­cause he’s the only pas­tor most of us have ever known. I don’t think we’ll ever find any­one to re­place him. What ad­vice would you have for us?

— V.G. DEAR V.G: The most im­por­tant ad­vice I can give you is to ask God to guide you to the per­son He has cho­sen as your next min­is­ter. Make it a mat­ter of con­stant prayer — not just per­son­ally, but as a con­gre­ga­tion. Moses was the only leader the peo­ple of his gen­er­a­tion had ever known, but God had al­ready pre­pared Joshua to take his place (see Deuteron­omy 31:23).

It would be nat­u­ral for you to look for some­one who is just like your present pas­tor — but this shouldn’t be your main cri­te­ria. God in­stead may have some­one for you who has dif­fer­ent gifts and a dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity, and you should be open to this. Your church may need some­one with dif­fer­ent gifts to carry it into the fu­ture. When your present pas­tor came al­most 40 years ago, I sus­pect some peo­ple prob­a­bly grum­bled be­cause he wasn’t just like their old pas­tor!

What qual­i­ties should you look for? First, any min­is­ter should be deeply com­mit­ted to Je­sus Christ, with a def­i­nite sense of divine call­ing. Pas­tors also should have a deep love for peo­ple (in­clud­ing those who don’t know Christ), and a life that is marked by prayer, Bi­ble study and Christ-like char­ac­ter.

As a foot­note, I hope your con­gre­ga­tion will go out of its way to wel­come and en­cour­age its new pas­tor. The Bi­ble says, “Re­mem­ber your lead­ers, who spoke the word of God to you … so that their work will be a joy, not a bur­den” (He­brews 13:7, 17).

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