The Life and Work of a Minister

INTRODUCTION

            As I was looking at the option of writing about a great preacher of the church in the United States or about some preacher from my own personal past that had influenced me to be an effective minister I kept coming back to the same answer.  I believe my dad was a great gospel preacher and I will attempt to show in this paper what makes a great gospel preacher.   

            As I was thinking about this paper, I kept thinking back to the deep set principles my dad instilled in me and what effect they have had on my life.  It is not my intention to make him sound perfect.  He was not perfect by any means.  I realize that when asked, most people would give their parents the credit for the decisions they make as adults.  I am extremely grateful for the guidance he provided me.  I will attempt to share what he did for me.  I do believe the foundation provided by my dad made a lasting impression upon me and what eventually led me to become a minister of the gospel. I owe what I am today to my dad.

 

             

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ELDON W. ROGERS: MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL

            Eldon Rogers was born July 3, 1926 to Noah L. and Mary Rogers.  They lived on a farm in western Kentucky.  He was the fifth of seven children.  He had three brothers and three sisters.  The family always had a deep devotion to the Lord.  That devotion was taught to them at an early age and followed throughout their lives.  The Lord came first in all things and as a result, the whole family became students of the scripture.  The result of this was all four boys becoming ministers of the gospel when they left home.

            Eldon left home sometime around 1943 and went to Nashville, Tennessee.  He enrolled in David Lipscomb High School.  After high school he attended college at both David Lipscomb and Freed- Hardeman College.  He was able to sit at the feet of some of the great minds of his day during that time.  I can remember him talking about some of great preachers like N.B. Hardeman, A.C.Pulious, E.R.Harper, H.Leo Boles, Gus Nichols and L.O.Sanderson.  These men had a profound impact on my dad and the way he would later preach the gospel. 

            He met my mother, Margaret Jones, in July of 1951 in Mayfield, Kentucky.  They married later that year in December.  They went to a gospel meeting in a near-by town after the wedding ceremony.  Just a small example of the dedication my dad had to the Lord and what he taught to his new wife and eventually would teach to his three boys. 

            My dad would begin a preaching career of nearly fifty years in western Kentucky.  Over his career he would also preach in Missouri, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Indiana, and Michigan.  He also was involved in campaigns in Belgium, Trinidad, South Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona.  He was a gospel preacher up until two weeks before he passed from this life to his eternal reward.

            I am indebted to my dad for the example he placed before me with his life.  I would like to share what he did for me and what it has meant to me.  I can remember as a child I would always talk to my dad about what I wanted to be when I grew up.  He always had the same answer for me.  He would say, ďSon, it matters not what profession you choose for your life, what matters the most is that you are first a Christian.Ē  He truly believed this and emphasized it over and over to me as I grew up.  He had a deep and abiding love for the Lord and he taught me the same.  Sometimes it was a hard lesson for me to learn, but I learned.  He taught me what it meant to be a Christian.  He lived the example before me.  As my parentís health began to fail them early in their lives by todayís standard, they made a promise to one another.  They promised not to let the other ones sickness be an excuse to miss the worship services of the church.  I have said that my dad put the Lord first in his life.  My mother died October 31, 1993, on a Sunday morning.  My dad was at worship just as they had promised one another.  It is one thing to say you are committed to something, it is another thing to follow through with it.  My dad was a faithful Christian.

            My dad was a man of his word.  This is another trait of a great preacher.  When a Christian tells something it should be understood to be true.  Gospel preachers have a huge responsibility to the people they come in contact with.  They should have the reputation for being truth-tellers.  If we canít be trusted to tell the truth in our daily lives, how then will people trust you with the gospel?  My dad taught me from my earliest years to tell the truth.  It was very important to him and it is important to me.

            The next lesson my dad taught me was that nothing comes to us in life without hard work.  This even applies to preachers.  He was taught how to work when he was a boy and he taught me as well.  I can remember how when shaking hands, people would comment on my dadís firm grip.  He would tell them that it was a result of holding on to the plow following the team of mules as a boy.  I never had to plow with mules or anything remotely associated with that, but I was expected to work for what I got.  He never gave any of his sons a car.  We had to work to be able to buy it for ourselves.  I am proud of this lesson.  We have to work for what we get.  This as I said applies to preachers.  We must labor to expect results.  Nothing comes easy either in the world or in the church.  The preacher must be committed to working till the task is complete.  This lesson was taught to me early in life and it carried me into my adult life. 

            My dad was a student of the scriptures as I mentioned in the introduction.  This did not come by accident.  He read the Bible diligently.  I can hardly remember him sitting down to watch television. He would encourage us as young children to read the Bible.  I remember when I was about six years old, I asked my dad about baptism.  He told me I needed to study for myself and when I thought I understood what it was for he would help me with the decision.  He didnít want me to do it just because other kids were doing it.  He didnít just turn his back to my questions though, he helped me through them.  We began by reading the four gospels together.  By the time I was nine years old, I was able to read and understand for myself.  It was at this point he enrolled me in a correspondence course that was available from the church he was preaching for.  I finished it fairly quickly and within six months obeyed the gospel.  He didnít stop there.  He continued to teach me after that to help me reach maturity as a Christian.  This is something that was not peculiar to me; he did this with all converts.   I hope someday to be the student of the scriptures that my dad was.  I know that I will only achieve that through hard work.  The foundation of learning that my dad received at home from his parents and the institutes of higher learning that he attended early in life laid the groundwork for a lifetime of study.  It is only through diligent study that the gospel preacher can become the student of the scriptures that he needs to be.  They must also realize, as my dad knew and would tell you, you never reach a point where study is no longer necessary.

            Eldon Rogers was a good preacher.  What made him good one might ask?  What made him good is the same thing that makes all good preachers good.  They must preach the truth.  This means we must not fear for our job just because we might say something that might offend an influential member.  We must always stand for the truth and preach the whole counsel of God.  We cannot avoid certain topics to avoid stepping on toes.  I remember at the age of five, my dad was called into a meeting after church one evening.  I was confused because this had never happened before.  I remember asking my mom what was he doing and she didnít know.   This turned out to be the first time I saw my dad cry.  The elders had fired my dad because he had preached on marriage and divorce that morning.  What had caused them to fire him was that one of the eldersí children was living in adultery and the lesson had made them mad.  Even though my dad was deeply hurt by this, it did not discourage him from preaching the truth.  This is a lesson that was taught me at a very young age.  That lesson is that the truth must be told and without regard for negative feedback.  When I think of my dad and the lessons he taught me with regard to preaching the truth, 2 Timothy 4:1-5 comes to mind.  The apostle Paul was giving advice to the young preacher, Timothy.  Preachers should reflect on these words often.  My dad only heard me preach one time before his death.  After the service was over, the above mentioned passage was his comment to me.  That was a great complement to me. 

            My dad taught me to pray.  He believed in the power of prayer and that God answers prayer just as all Christians should and do.  The best example I can think of is a prayer my dad prayed in November, 1979.  I had just announced to the family that I planned to join the Army the next week.  My dad prayed that day for me to be kept safe and out of harms way while I was in the service.  I stayed in the Army for twenty years.  I had a combat arms specialty in Field Artillery.  I served in several outstanding units like the 101st Airborne, the 1st Infantry Division, the 3rd Infantry Division, and the 1st Cavalry Division, but never did I fire a shot at anyone nor have a shot fired at me.  I was in the service at the time of several conflicts.  Panama, Grenada, Bosnia, Haiti, and Desert Storm all took place while I wore the uniform.  Every unit I was assigned to saw action in these various conflicts yet I was never involved in any of them.  I believe this was an answer to my dadís prayer.

            The last thing I would like to share that my dad taught me with regard to preaching the gospel is the pay of the preacher.  I remember laughing at my dad when he would tell me stories of his early days of preaching.  He once told me that he could never use his front pockets in his pants.  He told me that some of his first congregations paid him in change.  He never made much money while preaching.  It is a good thing because it was not important to him.  It did not discourage him at all.  He continued to preach the gospel even when we barely made it financially.  I can say we never went without the necessities of life.  He always would say that his reward would come either in this life or the life to come. 

            Eldon Rogers was a faithful Christian, a faithful husband, and a good father.  I believe these qualities along with being an avid student of the Bible made him a great preacher.  He never had a goal of being that great preacher.  He just felt the need to preach.  He never sought after the honor of men.  He sought to please God.  He was a humble man.  I can not think of anyone that I owe more to in my life than him.  He taught me what it takes to be successful in this life.  He taught me to be a faithful Christian, a loyal husband and a loving father.  He would be the first to tell you that success is not measured in human terms.  It is measured by how you use what God gives you. The bottom line is always a true and complete devotion to God.  We must always put him first.  If that devotion is present, the rest of it comes naturally and never by accident.

           

           

           

 

           




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