Every Pastor Needs a Carl


In all my years of ministry, several names come to mind when I think of those who have clearly demonstrated what it means to live wholly sanctified lives for Jesus. These are people who, although they would humbly brush it aside, wear the heavenly badge of saint. This badge is not a pin or patch one wears on an earthly garment, yet it’s clearly evident in their countenance, speech and life; and will most certainly show up in their crown of life as they cross the threshold of heaven.

Last Saturday we remembered such a man, Dr. Carl Birchard.  

There are certainly other names I could fit into this work, but in honor of my friend today, I wrote about why I believe “Every Pastor Needs a Carl.” As I think about my dear friend, every pastor and every church needs more people like him. 

Carl has been a blessing in my life over these past six years. Every time I saw him, I was always greeted with a warm smile, and a handshake that was much more than polite gesture.

We’ve laughed together. 

Cried together. 

Fished together.

Dined together.

Made apple-cider together.

Prayed together.

Camped together.

Shared tall tales with each other… and most of them are true.

We’ve affirmed each other.

And challenged each other.

Every pastor needs a Carl who continually lifts them up to the Heavenly Father in prayer, for the earnest prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

When one doesn’t feel worthy or qualified or even competent to pastor a people, every pastor needs a Carl to come alongside with just the right loving words of encouragement and grace.

When it feels like the frantic pace of the world is rocking the ship, every pastor needs a Carl to offer steady reassurance that God will be faithful.

When important decisions need to be made, every pastor needs a Carl as a trusted advisor to speak the wise Counsel of the Holy out of the richness of experience; one who can speak his mind without being divisive, for he puts the needs of the church ahead of his own.

Every pastor needs a Carl as a mentor, a man of unmatched intelligence and stunning humility whose quest for knowledge and understanding never waned. A wise elder who was quick to walk across the sanctuary and say thank you for offering new learning and insight on Scripture.

When the seriousness and pace of ministry begin to dampen one’s spirit, every pastor needs a Carl to inject some humorous anecdote at just the right moment, as a reminder to see and appreciate the lighter side of life.

Pastors need Carls to tell the tales of days gone by. Carls who are mission-minded and pause to care for other’s needs. Carls who offer multitudes of blessings and cause few headaches.

In the life of a church, every pastor needs a Carl whose honesty, Integrity, and stewardship are never questioned. This servant was a generous giver of time, energy and money for God’s kingdom here and around the world.

One who unfailingly errs on the side of grace and generosity. 

Every pastor needs a Carl who always:

Rounds Up,

Shows up,

Looks up,

And Lifts up.

Every pastor needs a Carl to display what healthy marriage looks like, to show what it means to cherish his wife with an unquestioned love, and model what it means to lead his children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

Every pastor needs a Carl to adopt and love his family as his own.

Each of us take a little something from every person we meet. I’ll cherish the time I had the privilege of sharing with Carl, knowing I’m a better man, husband, father, friend and pastor because of his godly influence in my life.

Every pastor needs a Carl to model what it means to leave a legacy of blessing wherever God gives opportunity.

May he enter into peaceful rest in Christ’s presence, and may his good works be honored in the very presence of God the Father; If I listen closely enough, I hear the words echoing forth from halls of heaven:

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”