The Power of One Word

Ditto - A Pastor's Story

There are compelling stories all over the world about pastors and their churches, but this one is special because it’s mine.

It is with the deepest affection that I tell you about my pastor of 16 years, John McClintock. Our church, Living Word Ministries, is located in a sleepy, mid-western town in Illinois.

Pastor (that’s his first name to me) is one of eight children in a multi-talented, multi-gifted family. All are musically gifted, and two of the eight are senior pastors. Living Word is one of seven churches established in the early 1970’s by Pastor’s father, Dr. Donald McClintock. In 1997, two years before I arrived on the scene, Pastor John took over as senior pastor and praise and worship leader.

Pastor John is everything I’m not. He’s barely approaching middle age. I’m definitely not. I am “Chatty Kathy.” He is not. If I’m fond of you, you’re going to know it. I will express myself with every applicable adjective available within the scope of my vocabulary, along with periodic reminders throughout the relationship. When I’m done, there will be no doubt in your mind concerning my affection for you.

Pastor John is not like that. Out of the pulpit, he is a man of few words, especially in matters of the heart. Please indulge me for a moment with a bit of commentary. I would never presume to speak for Pastor John, so generally speaking, over the years I think pastors hear so many lovely words of promise and affection that ultimately end up being nothing more than empty, pretty words completely void of their intended purpose. I think, out of sheer self-preservation, pastors learn how to hold their thoughts and affections closely.

I want to be perfectly clear. Pastor is genuinely warm, loving, and appreciative of anything done for him, his family, or the church, but he’s not one to go on and on about it like me. Instead, his way of expressing affection might be considered antiquated by today’s standards. He does it through actions, a discipline not known by many in this current generation. Let me give you a few examples.

On any given Sunday, if you visit Living Word, you will leave feeling as if you’ve just attended the coolest concert ever. I like to say we have a concert to our Lord and Savior every Sunday morning. Along with our praise and worship team, Pastor literally pours himself out on our platform. Every drop of sweat says, "I love you."

His sermons are delivered in a way that say, "You matter, and I’m willing to spend time with God and His Word so I can deliver exactly what He has for you every Sunday." If you read between the lines, you’ll hear him say, "I care so much that I will do this every Sunday, year after year, regardless of my personal needs."

Every time he mows the lawn or cleans the church because someone’s yes, at the last minute, became no, he says, "I will remain faithful in spite of what you do."

For all the times he stood before us, bruised in his soul by disappointments, or words someone said about him, or those he loves, yet in between the cries, you could hear, "I forgive you and I love you, even if it’s from afar."

And finally, after gallons of sweat, years of enduring everything and anything that tried to take him out, both personally, or the ministry, he stood strong and has led us to the point of breakthrough, and we are ready to finish the race - strong!

This brings me to my subtitle and that seemingly misplaced word, Ditto. Today was Friends and Family Day at Living Word. We all brought food and it was a lovely day. Just as I was leaving, Pastor walked by. I said goodbye and, typically, I end by saying, “I love you.” Well, today I must have been feeling chatty and said, “I love you more than you know.” And, with a still small voice, I heard Pastor say, “Ditto.”

Right now, I’m digging around in my mind trying to find the words that will describe the contents of that word. I’m not doing so well. Its origin was not from mere intelligentsia. It came from a well-protected fortress, the contents of which are more precious than gold.

How is it possible for one five-letter word to contain so much love? How is it possible for one five-letter word to affect a paradigm shift in one’s life? How is it possible for one five-letter word to reduce the chatter of this world and sum it all up in just one Word?

By now, you may realize this exposé, although true, is much more than a pastor’s story. And, by now, I’m sure you realize the five-letter word is not Ditto.

It is Jesus.

When we receive Him as our personal Lord and Savior, He really does take up residency in us. There’s only one Person Who can live a victorious Christian life. His name is Jesus Christ, and if we let Him, He will live His life through us.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

To God be all the glory!

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