This past Sunday, I preached the pastoral anniversary celebration for my longtime friend Reginald Payne. He has served the Full Gospel Baptist Church in Los Angeles for thirteen years now. (For the record, the name of the church does not reflect its theology. Reginald is as sound as they come. He has simply chosen to honor the previous pastor and the congregation’s history by not changing the name of the church.)

We were junior deacons together at Mt. Sinai. I was eleven when I preached my first sermon. It was during the youth choir’s musical. Reginald was the president of that choir. When I had someone to preach, my father would send Reggie to drive me most of the time. When my father had to travel, Reggie’s mom and dad would baby-sit me. His mom, Patricia, would make Reggie take me with him if he was going somewhere. We were together with my dad in Dallas, when Reggie acknowledged his called into the ministry. We shared responsibility for the youth department. We endured many Tuesday night preachers’ classes together, along with our other young preacher buddies at MSMBC. We helped each other with our messages, when we got an opportunity to preach. My dad named Reginald as his “special assistant” the year he died, without a complaint from the congregation. Months before, when he expressed the desire to do something similar with me one day, a senior member publicly voiced her objections – during Communion!

Reginald was the one who came to the airport to pick me up the day my father died. During that period, we became the closest of friends. We were together the night I was called to pastor Mt. Sinai. We lived together for several years after that. During that time, he was my right-hand man. We even called him “Ready Reggie,” because he always had a message prepared when I needed someone to preach. We were planning of bringing him on fulltime when he was called to pastor Full Gospel. In fact, he had already taken over preaching duties in our 8 AM service, and had begun a series through the book of 2 Corinthians. The congregation was small and struggling when Reginald arrived. But God has used him over these years to develop this congregation in every way. And Reginald is one of the best of the preachers of my generation in our city (even though, with his graying hair, he looks somewhat older than he is. But hey, what can I say, at least he has hair!). Reginald picked up a lot of my father’s pastoral skills. He paid attention and followed my father’s example, unlike some bloggers who will remain anonymous.

I am proud of Reginald. And I am praying that the Lord would continue to bless his wife and daughter. And I pray that the Lord would use him in an ever greater way to spread the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. I am often complaining about my generation of pastors and preachers. But I hope to spend more time turning on the lights, rather than shouting at the darkness. Why should the “bad guys” get all the attention? Reginald, praise God, is one of the “good guys.” He deserves to be commended for his love for God, his pastor’s heart, and his commitment to sound doctrine. Pray that his tribe increases.