In the Land of Giants
During college I had the privilege to serve as an intern and associate youth minister for the senior high ministry at FBC Jackson, MS. During the four years I was there my pastor was Dr. Frank Pollard. I just learned that Dr. Pollard passed away this past weekend. He had been battling a number of illnesses, and knowing him, I know he's much, much happier where he is now. You can read a brief story from the Jackson newspaper here. To honor the passing of this great man of God, I'd like to share two particular memories of Dr. Pollard.
He was one of the most humble, gracious, godliest and friendliest human beings you could ever meet. Nowhere was this more evident than in his preaching. However, if I'm honest, I can't tell you anything specific about any sermon he ever preached except that he often liked using Dr. Seuss to close. One of the things I do remember, though, is where he parked. FBCJ is located in the heart of downtown Jackson. It looks a bit different now than when I was there, mainly because across the street from the main building is a large multipurpose/education/youth building and parking garage. For years, especially while I was there, this building did not exist. Instead, there was just a parking lot with a tower connected to a skyway that you could take to the main building to avoid having to cross the main street, since it was often busy. Because I was in school at the time, I rarely worked in the mornings. I usually showed up after lunch. For the entire time I was there I would often be in the tower waiting on the elevator or something and looking back at the parking lot. Whenever Dr. Pollard arrived, he would park at the far end of the lot and walk the whole way across. It was a little thing, but a lot of the churches I've been to have assigned spots close to the church for the pastor. Dr. Pollard always considered it more important for other people to be able to get close. For some reason that's always stuck with me.
A second thing I remember about Dr. Pollard is something I heard second hand that he had said, but eventually got him to confirm it. You see, Dr. Pollard could have been a really big deal in the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) but all of the politics of it seemed to never really be for him. Well, there's this story that Dr. Pollard was at the convention one year and was cornered by a group of the SBC leaders including some people that were presidents of seminaries some of you attended. They were confronting him about taking some stronger political stances within the convention, as this was still during the time that the fundamentalists had come to power and were fighting to get rid of all of the moderates and liberals, or at least to shut them up. Anyway, one of them finally got frustrated enought that he said, "Frank, when are you going to get in the ballgame?" Dr. Pollard simply replied, "I've been in the ballgame, but you guys have been too busy fighting under the bleachers."
We stand on the shoulders of giants. There is a generation of them that we are beginning to lose. This is the nature of things. I pray that the rest of us will have the strength, wisdom, humility and passion to follow their examples.