May 222021 8 Responses

Another Headline About a Pastor

Did you read the headline the other day about the pastor? You didn’t, because there wasn’t a headline. There was no headline because there was no story. No sex scandal. No misused money. No abuse of power. Had there been a headline with a story it would have simply read “Pastor Completes Forty Years of Faithful Service.” Of course, if written, no one would read the story. There is no intrigue in faithfulness.

Yet these are the stories we need.

While evil needs to be exposed and people need to be warned about manipulative leaders, we also need to highlight the good. For a man to place the well-being of others over himself for over four decades is noble.

This Is Ed’s Story

For the last 19 years, I’ve worked alongside one of my childhood heroes. I first met Ed Saucier when I was in junior high. He was the first pastor I had ever met who seemed human. He was serious about faith but had no desire to put on a spiritual act for others. Rather than making spirituality seem attainable only for a few, he made it feel accessible even to someone like me. (See: The Hardest Thing for a Pastor to See)

Throughout high school he welcomed me into his life. Without him, I doubt I would be a pastor. I know I wouldn’t be where I’ve been for the past 19 years because after graduate school he hired me. Then six years later he put me in charge. For the past 13 years, he’s willfully chosen to work for me rather than to have me work for him.

It’s unique to work for one of your heroes. Even rarer to have your hero submit to your leadership. When first offered the job, an advisor told me not to accept the position. Knowing how important the relationship was to me, the advisor warned, “It will never work out. The relationship won’t withstand the pressure of working together.”

I ignored the advice for one reason–more than anything I trusted Ed’s heart. I knew no matter what disagreements we might have, Ed and I would choose one another over power, position, or prestige. Nineteen years later and we have done just that.

Lessons Learned

Working alongside someone is similar to marriage, all the shine quickly fades away as you see every strength and weakness of a person. Thirty years after meeting Ed, I no doubt view him differently than I did as a kid. But he hasn’t diminished in my eyes. Instead, having lived his life for the past two decades, I have a greater appreciation for many aspects of who he is, particularly his compassion toward people.

No one loves broken people better than Ed Saucier. No matter the scenario, Ed meets each person with overwhelming grace and compassion. I’ve seen it more times than I can tell. Whether life has dealt someone a bad hand or a person has made horrific decisions that Ed warned them not to make, he still gently welcomes them into his life and attempts to help them navigate whatever circumstances they are facing.

By itself, this is a tremendous gift. But to still do that after forty years of ministry is a remarkable trait. Without bitterness or burnout, his compassion continues to flow. The heart I’ve long trusted remains trustworthy.

This is the one thing I want to mimic from Ed. It’s not the only thing he has taught me, but it’s the most important trait he has modeled.

Six Different Decades

On Sunday, Ed will preach his last sermon as a full-time pastor at Community Bible Church. He will transition into a part-time role. No pastor ever fully retires. Having first preached in the late 70s, Sunday’s sermon will be the sixth different decade in which Ed has spoken.

In a day in which there seems to be a headline every week about another pastor who has lied, stolen, cheated, or abused, Ed’s story will catch little attention from outside of our church. But his is a story that needs to be told. Ed is as smart as any person I know. His career path could have gone a thousand different directions. Any of them would have been more profitable and far less stressful.

Yet he chose a profession that willfully opened his heart up to the greatest pain, disappointment, sorrow, and heartbreak that could be experienced. While the pastorate has many joys, its pains are unmatched by any other career. He nobly made his life about the well-being of others and countless others have benefited from his choice. And I have benefited as much as anyone.

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