When my father-in-law was facing major heart surgery, he was there to pray. When the surgery did not go well he was there to lead the memorial service. He was not afraid or ashamed to pray with us or shed a tear with us.
When I was first asked to speak at the chapel service of our church he was there to support and encourage me. When I had questions about where my gifts fit in at the church and how I could best be of use he got up early and met me for breakfast to hear my heart and give me counsel.
It is because of him that I am regularly invited to speak to the senior adult groups at church. After my first time speaking to one of the groups he gently took me aside and gave me encouragement. His advice, to speak more slowly and to avoid pop culture references to which they could not relate, made me more effective. As I have continued to teach in that group his support has become invaluable.
He believes in me, in my heart and in my desire to serve. He respects my passion, drive and commitment, and where others have tried to rein me in he has consistently worked to help me channel it. He listens, and then he listens more, hearing my heart and not just my words.
He loves me, he loves God, and he loves Gods people. He works too long and takes on too many responsibilities. He is at an age when most men have retired but he still sees work to do and ways in which he can do it. He is comfortable in front of a crowd but is not one to seek the spotlight. He has proven again and again that he is willing to share opportunity with others. How many pastors share the Easter pulpit with a layperson?
Over my years I have been to many churches and met many men who were on a church’s payroll. Too few truly had the heart of a pastor, whose true desire was to love and serve God’s people. When I think of a pastor, I think of John Coulombe.
He is not famous or well known, nor does he desire to be. He does desire to have an impact and he has impacted me greatly.