Good preachers, bless ‘em, are made of sturdy stuff. They are sitting ducks for criticism, and, as moving targets, usually can’t move fast enough.

In life’s shooting gallery, their battered canvases would be pock-marked by arrows and broadsides.

Such persons are called upon to be “all things to all people.” Perhaps there are no tougher assignments…

Oh, this goes for “fair” preachers, too. And even a few are in the “half of the group that makes the top half possible.”

I applaud the men and women called of God to ministry.

Most folks agree that clergies face difficult tasks. And a cynic or two—maybe the same ones who buy newspapers not for edification, but just to “see if they get it right”—think they could do better jobs if given half a chance…

I maintain that many ministers are “corner posts” in the fence row of life.

The best ones I know have several noble traits in common, one of them involving “sense.” One has “common” in front of it, and the other “of humor” behind it.

Further, they drink regularly from the dipper at deepest wells…

Just as there is a “model prayer,” there are ministers whose lives merit modeling, and two of my favorites embody the noblest traits.

They were successive pastors during the first 42 years of Colonial Hill Baptist Church in Snyder. Their twinkling eyes and quick smiles welcomed many into their church, their homes and their hearts.

Dr. Jimmie Nelson, longtime seminary professor, was the first CHBC pastor, serving 10 years, and following him was the Rev. Miller Robinson, who settled in for the next 32. They are long-time friends—the kind that so many in their pastoral care have called on to officiate at funerals and weddings…

A while back, they conducted the funeral service for Kenneth Wilson, a founding deacon of the church. The three men shared much in common, including a total of nine sons—Wilson had five, and the preachers, two each.

Wilson, 85, was also a community leader. Growing up during the Great Depression, he had a work ethic with starch in it, and discipline to boot. He was on the school board, director of the tax appraisal district and a World War II Marine veteran who served four years in the South Pacific, where horrific battles raged.

Tested and true, he and his wife, Bernie, taught their children well….

Preachers of funerals often refer to “celebrating lives.” What they don’t say is that some celebrations are bigger than others.

Wilson’s was huge.

Paul, the fourth Wilson son, spoke for his siblings from a heart brimming with remembrances…

His thoughts, if somehow bottled, would be great elixirs for parents today. He loved and revered his dad for Godly traits and for “bringing him, David, Rusty, Johnny and Chuck up in the ways they should go.”

A good provider who held jobs simultaneously and did all of them well, Wilson was an even better husband and father.

There were recollections of his discipline…

One experience is vivid to Chuck. He was “sentenced” to running laps around the house until told to stop.

His dad, who worked for Chevron Oil Company and farmed at the same time, was a “can ‘til can’t” kind of guy, and during Chuck’s laps, he decided to rest his eyes.

He drifted off; Chuck kept running. Finally, Paul decided to wake his dad up, and the decision was timely. Chuck was just about “lapped out.”

John remembers long hours in the cotton field, tending his portion that would “get him through college.” That’s what each son was told, and that’s what happened; all five have college degrees.

At age 16, the brothers were permitted to drive the farm pick-up. One day, John skipped out on cotton field duties, opting to sneak off to Snyder in the pick-up.

Trouble was, it was mid-afternoon on a Friday, and he didn’t get back to the farm until around midnight. Uh-oh—the light was on, and his dad was still up…

The youngster relaxed a bit, thankful that Dad seemed totally calm, and there was no belt to be seen. His dad ordered him to climb to the peak of the roof.

“I’m there,” John said, glancing toward Snyder, five or so miles away. He offered a quick “yes” when asked if he could see the lights of town.

“Well take a good, long look,” his dad said, “Because you aren’t going to see ‘em again for three months.” And he didn’t…

All the Wilson boys want their kids and grandkids to “go to school” on their dad’s life.

For memorial services honoring such lives as this, one man’s home-going marks a rich homecoming time for others whose life he touched. It was indeed a celebration—as good as they get on this side of the river.

This trio, a deacon and his pastors, will “do to ride the river with.”…

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Send e-mailto or call 817-447-3872. Visit his Web site at