Saturday, September 08, 2012

Who's Your Daddy? A Tribute to Pastors

I suppose all of us who have sat in Psychology classes have heard about Abraham Maslow. He believed, though he had no scientific proof for it, that restraint was unhealthy and that "self - actualization" and high self - esteem were crucial to human development.

Many of us have come to believe that nothing builds high self esteem in a child or any person so much as coming to the realization that God loves us and we are so important Jesus died to save us.

Jan Karon's Mitford series books remained for a long time on the New York Times Bestseller list for many reasons. Karon's leading character, Father Tim, is a reminder of what every good pastor should be. It is refreshing because in much of the media pastors are presented as either ignorant or evil. As I read Karon's work, I thought of my favorite pastor. He was also my husband from our youth until his death in 1986.

My pastor, like Father Tim and so many other pastors, worked tirelessly and unselfishly, visiting the sick and homebound, Feeding the hungry, ministering to those in prisons, going with fathers to search for runaway children in the "hippie" era and continuing to tell the awesome good news of Jesus. All this is just a tiny part of the job description of a pastor.

I heard Dr. Fred Craddock tell "A Great Tennessee Story" at Candler School of Theology at Emory. I read the story again recently. One of my readers tells me it is not a true story? I understood it as factual. It is certainly a story typical of many true stories that could be told about Christian pastors. The heart of the Gospel that brought about the best in America and Western Civilization is that regardless of whether or not our biological parents accepts us, God loves and accepts each of us as His own.
A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One morning they were eating breakfast in a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope he doesn't come over here." But sure enough, the man came over to their table.

"Where are you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice.

"Oklahoma," they answered.

"Great to have you here in Tennessee," the stranger said. "What do you do for a living?"

"I teach at a seminary," he replied.

"Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I've got a really good story for you." And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down.

The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great. Just what I need -- another preacher story!"

The man started, "See that mountain over there?" He pointed out the restaurant window. "Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up because every place he went, he was always asked the same question: 'Hey, boy, who's your daddy?' Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question: 'Who's your daddy?' He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students. He would avoid going into stores because that question hurt him so bad. When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's your daddy?' But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast, he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.

Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, 'Son, who's your daddy?' The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, 'Who's your daddy?'

The new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to the scared little boy: 'Wait a minute! I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.' With that, he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, 'Boy, you've got a great inheritance -- go and claim it.'

With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, 'Who's your daddy?' he'd just tell them, 'I'm a child of God.'

The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn't that a great story?"

The professor responded that it really was a great story.

As the man turned to leave, he said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn't told me that I was one of God's children, I probably would never have amounted to anything!" And he walked away.

The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked, "Do you know that man who was just sitting at our table?" The waitress grinned and said, "Of course. Everybody here knows him. That's Ben Hooper. He's the former governor of Tennessee!"


Knight of Pan said...

Great story!"Where honour is the only possible good to be gained by the exercise of power, the man in power will strive only for honour." -J.B. Mason,Blue Equinox, pg. 233

Debi Lewis said...

Mother, I love the story! I had not heard that one. I missed seeing you today.
Love you, Debi

Carol said...

I love this story. I'm glad you put it on Ruthlace.

Anonymous said...

Inspiring story!

Norma said...

That's a great story. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

great story only problem is that it is not true. Check it out on

Ruth said...

Dear Anonymous...You may be right. It does sound too good to be true, doesn't it? I heard it told for the truth and have seem examples of that kind of radical change in underpriviledged children and adults. Thank God.

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