“She told me she cried all night when she was told that I had been called to be their minister. I was 25. She was 60. I figured I’d outlive her.” ~ Dr. Phillips
I don’t think I’ve ever heard an 80 year-old preach. When I saw that Dr. Phillips was scheduled to preach in chapel two weeks ago, I had a strong desire to continue that trend. There was another part of me that figured I probably wouldn’t have too many more opportunities to hear someone like Dr. Phillips preach. He is struggling with Parkinson’s disease, after all.
I’m glad I chose to go. I don’t remember very much from last year’s Chapel services – especially the sermons. There are bits and pieces – I especially remember David Fulks wiping his nose during the middle of his sermon saying, “I’m allergic to good preaching.” That’s about it, though.
Dr. Phillips was memorable – for all the good reasons.
He spoke about his experience leading the same church for 32 years. He spoke about how he was cocky and arrogant when he arrived and more compassionate and loving when he left. The woman in the quote above was still alive when he left that church to become president of Emmanuel. During their final meeting, she told him that she loved him, even when they didn’t agree on things – which was a lot of the time.
He said that moment was special to him. He challenged us to worry more about loving the people in our churches, not on outliving them.
That’s something we all need to remember.