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Doug Dezotell

Musings and Memories

Doug Dezotell is pastor of Cannon United Methodist Church and a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette.

Unsung heroes

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Some of the finest folks I’ve ever met have been pastors, ministers, preachers, and priests.

I’m not just saying that because I am one.

Yes, I am a pastor, a minister, a preacher, and a priest; and I have been one for more than 46 years now.

I’ve tried real hard over the years to do my best at what I know is a divine calling.

My vocation is as a pastor, minister, preacher, and priest; and my avocation is pretty much the same.

According to the website Grammarist.com, “a vocation is a calling, an occupation, or a large undertaking for which one is especially suited.

“It can be roughly synonymous with career or profession, though vocation connotes a seriousness or a commitment that these words don’t always bear.

“An avocation is something done in addition to one’s vocation—usually a hobby.

“Both are rooted in the Latin vocāre, meaning to call. In its early English use, vocation usually had religious implications.

“One who had a vocation was called by God toward a certain line of work, often the priesthood.

“The word was in use without the religious overtones as early as the 16th century, and today it is commonly used for both religious callings and secular ones.

“In avocation, the prefix a- is shortened from ab-, which means away, so, considered etymologically, an avocation is a calling away.”

I’ve met lots of these vocational pastor types over the years, most of them I admired and respected, but a few not so much.

The pastors, ministers, preachers, and priests I admired, respected, and even wanted to be like, all had one thing in common: they were godly examples.

They didn’t just preach and teach from the Bible. No! They lived what they were preaching and teaching.

My favorite poet is a man named Edgar A. Guest, and one of my favorite poems he wrote is entitled “Sermons We See.” It goes like this:

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way. The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear, Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear;

And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds, For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.

I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done; I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run. And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true, But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do; For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give, But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind. When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be. And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.

One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold; One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told. Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear, For right living speaks a language which to everyone is clear. Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say, I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.

I am always trying to live what Mr. Guest wrote.

I am always trying to live like and follow the example of Jesus Christ.

That’s what the pastors, ministers, preachers, and priests I admire and respect do.

But, so much of what an admirable pastor does is not seen by the church members or the community.

The admirable pastor, minister, preacher, and priest is hard at work all throughout the week behind closed doors.

They are praying for God’s guidance, praying for their families, praying for their flock, praying for their community; all week long.

The admirable pastor, minister, preacher, and priest spends hours reading and rereading the Bible; studying long hours, and writing and re-writing sermon notes, and teaching notes.

And then all those hours spent in prayer and Bible study are presented to their flocks in a 15 to 60 minute sermon or teaching on a Sunday morning or a mid-week evening.

The admirable pastor, minister, preacher, or priest does all that, and so much more. Some of those things we see in their public persona; their public example. But, the behind-the-scenes pastor is busy powering-up, gearing-up, and praying-up.

You know, some people may call their pastor their hero. We don’t usually look at ourselves in that way.

We try hard to be a public example of Jesus Christ, and we try hard to be a private, at-home example of Jesus Christ as well.

I think we’d all like to see a sermon lived-out before us. I think we’d all like to see one walk with us and not merely tell the way.

I think we all know that the eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear. And we know that sometimes fine counsel can be confusing, but example’s always clear.

And I think we all believe the best of all the preachers are the men and women who live their creeds, for to see good put in action is what everybody needs.

I don’t necessarily want to be called a hero. I’d rather be called a man of God. I’d rather be called a godly example.

And I like to be called Pastor, Minister, Preacher, Priest, or even Doug. But even more than those titles I like to be called Friend.

When I’m at home I love to be called Husband, Dad, Daddy, and Papa.

Maybe I’m a hero to them. But I don’t wear a cape.