I never had an opportunity to meet Pastor Bob Hopper. Bob came to my church this past February expecting to serve for two years as our church’s transitional pastor. God had different plans for our church and for Pastor Bob. He went home to be with the Lord following a cardiac arrest late Monday evening.
During my time serving with Key Ministry, I’ve come to appreciate the extent to which people serving in ministry invest their hearts, minds and souls into their calling. That’s especially true of the pastors and staff who serve our church.
When a church or ministry organization assembles a team of gifted and talented people that begins to impact their community for Jesus, a couple of things usually happen. First, they’re guaranteed to encounter significant adversity. I’ve become a big believer in spiritual warfare as a result of our team’s experiences over the past fifteen years and through observing the experiences of many of our faithful ministry colleagues. The other thing that happens is that day-to-day disagreements with very bright, opinionated teammates exert a great emotional toll when they arise in the context of serving Jesus.
I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to have a church that’s been a continual source of support throughout the time I’ve been serving with Key Ministry. I don’t get to spend as much time with my friends from church as I would like, but the camaraderie and encouragement I sense when we do reconnect helps keep me going. I’m pretty tired by the time Sunday rolls around. The opportunity to experience great worship music and excellent teaching free of the dysfunctional relationships and toxic politics I hear of from too many of my ministry colleagues has been a great blessing. The church is a great support to me in my ministry work.
While I’ve been reaping the benefits of an excellent church, the people responsible for leading our church have been paying quite an emotional price for sustaining excellence. We lost our longtime senior pastor this past summer. Another outstanding teaching pastor preached his final sermon on the day prior to Bob’s passing. Other staff members are hurting. And for the most part, I doubt any of us who aren’t directly involved with the day to day operation of the church would have ever noticed.
I’m grateful for Pastor Bob because of the care and concern he showed to the other pastors and ministry directors who serve so that my family and I can be blessed through our involvement with church. From the words that were shared at Bob’s memorial service this past Thursday night, he provided them with great comfort and support. My sense is that he was a true servant leader. In his short time at the church, leaders felt valued. If his last couple of sermons were indicative of his communication with our church’s leadership, I can understand why many seemed more encouraged and empowered.
In my line of work, we consider it a great honor when other physicians ask us to care for their children and family members. We’re a pretty demanding lot! Pastor Bob clearly demonstrated the experience, wisdom and integrity sufficient to earn the trust of the very gifted pastors and ministry leaders who serve our church. He was a pastor to hurting pastors…and for that, I’m grateful.
At Bob’s memorial service this past Thursday night, the people of our church were asked to come up to a microphone and share how they’d been blessed by his ministry. I thought I’d share my thoughts here with a larger audience.
I have a request to make of our readers… Most of us never fully appreciate the sacrifices our pastors and ministry leaders make in order to serve us. I think a neat way for each of us to honor Pastor Bob’s memory would be through sending a text, e-mail, social media message or best yet, a handwritten note of encouragement to a pastor or ministry leader who has provided us with encouragement and comfort. He’d appreciate that.