A week ago today I went to a funeral for my pastor and friend: Steve Baxter.
Like many others who knew Steve, I’m still feeling a sense of grief and disbelief. It’s hard to believe he’s gone. On Labour Day Sunday, Steve was at church, greeting each person going out the door. Warm handshake. Wide smile. Personal touch. Vintage pastor Steve. On Labour Day Monday he went to the hospital with a crushing headache. He slipped into a coma and never recovered.
Linda and I so appreciated Steve as our pastor. When I taught a course at Heritage on the Pastoral Epistles, I had him come speak to the class. I wanted students to hear from a man who exemplified what it means to be a godly and good pastor. I was hoping he would rub off on them.
In that Pastoral Epistles class, I sketched a “portrait of an effective pastor”. The drawing is certainly no masterpiece, but it highlights pieces pastors should seek to master. The portrait I drew gives a picture of the kind of person and pastor Steve Baxter was.
Spiritual Vitality: Steve ministered out of the overflow of his own relationship with Christ Jesus.
Godly Character: The tributes at his memorial service repeatedly spoke of his consistent, Christ-like character.
Shepherd: Steve had an amazing shepherd’s heart for the people he served. I’ve rarely met a pastor who connected with so many people in a personal way.
Preacher/Teacher: Each Sunday we could count on hearing a solid message from God’s Word—true to the text and applied to our lives.
Leader: Steve was a wise leader who gently but relentlessly helped the congregation align with God’s agenda. He also took the lead in mentoring younger ministers.
Vision for the Mission: Steve never forgot that Christ wants His church to be on mission, bringing the gospel to those who are outside the church walls.
Tomorrow I head back to Heritage with a mixture of feelings. Sadness—we have lost a stellar pastoral leader. Joy—Steve will receive a “well done” commendation from the Lord. Urgency—there is a pressing need to train spiritual leaders to carry on the work.
Please join me in praying for Steve’s family (wife Pam, daughters Erin and Heather) and Steve’s congregation (Grandview Baptist in Kitchener). Also pray for me and the team at Heritage as we seek to prepare more godly and good pastoral leaders. We could use more pastors like Steve Baxter.