Two of My Saints
This Sunday is All Saints Sunday. It is a time to remember, honor and reflect upon those who have gone before us in the faith and upon whose shoulders we stand today. Today I am giving thanks for two professors of the New Testament who helped encourage and shape my ministry. The first is Dr. James Efird. He was my favorite professor at Duke and wrote me recommendations that helped me get into doctorate programs. I knew that I liked him from the beginning when I discovered that he never missed a home basketball game at Duke even during the lean years of the early and mid seventies. He loved the Bible and spent much of his life helping to make a seminary level understanding of it available to lay people in churches all across the Southeast. He also cared deeply about pastors; not just the ones studying at Duke full time but also about those who came to do part time study for four weeks every summer (for four years) at Duke in lieu of a traditional seminary degree. He gave those students as much care and effort as he did the full time students. Once when we asked him how he could believe in total depravity (he was Presbyterian), he answered, “Because I have to deal with you every Tuesday and Thursday!”
Another of my Saints is Dr. Fred Craddock who taught at Emory. I had the privilege of being in a week long course on preaching with him in Atlanta about 30 years ago. He revolutionized the practice of preaching with his focus on inductive methods of preaching using story and plot. He also had a great love for pastors. In retirement he went and taught preaching in the Appalachian area to people he knew would not normally be able to attend seminary. I will never forget having to preach with him present. Afterwards he was so gracious. He wanted to make sure that I was talking fast because I was excited and not because I thought what I was saying wasn’t worthwhile so I was rushing through it. He encouraged me. He had humility and humor. When asked by CNN about having Parkinson’s, he said, “I’m eighty years old I ought to have something!”
When I open the Bible or talk with younger pastors, I’m simply getting to pass on the great gift these two gave me. Who are your Saints? How are you carrying them forward in your life? Do you realize how you are touching lives as well?
For all the Saints,