God called me to preach when I was 13 years old. I’m thankful He did. In those early years, God allowed me to be the pastor of three small churches, and work as a pastor’s assistant in a fourth. In all of those cases, I was either in school or had to work at a secular job to pay the bills.
In October 1964, I became the pastor of the 11th Street Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas. It was a full-time pastorate, but barely; Mrs. Hutson and I lived on $125 per week, and paid all of our bills including rent and taxes. About that time, God brought me into the presence of several spiritual giants in the ministry: H. Frank Fort, Kermit Johnson, Nick Michalinos, Don Warren, Eddie Atkinson and others. It didn’t take me very long to realize that they were in a league far beyond me. I will never forget the day Kermit Johnson asked me to preach at a Preachers’ Fellowship in Beaumont where most of those men were. Talk about scared to death and intimidated! I had heard them preach, and listened-in on their Bible discussions. They were kind to me, but I have to tell you that it was a very discouraging time. I felt neither fit nor qualified to be a preacher.
Soul-searching! Yes, lots of deep soul-searching! I knew God had called me to preach, but I was also humbled by how inadequate I was for the task. Back then after lots of thought, meditation and prayer, I made a decision that has forged the direction of my ministry. I knew that I could not measure up to what other preachers could do, but I also knew that I could do all that I could do. I didn’t have their charisma, their gifted memories, their oratory skills or their great Bible knowledge. But, I could work hard every day; just as hard as they could. And, I could love people and really care. I could study hard and pray diligently. I could give God my best efforts. Routinely! I could make routine excellence the aim of my life. I would give myself to detail, and doing things right. My motives would be right, and I would not give myself to self-exultation. Back then I decided I would seek to be God’s man, as much as humanly possible give Him the best I have and let Him do with me as He might see fit.
I am content to be who I am. I am grateful to God that He does not expect me to be someone else. I am convinced that He only expects me to be the best that I can be on a routine basis. I am glad to be in His hand, and know that He is my final judge.