On Thursday evening, January 10, Pastor Dave Richards went home to be with his Lord. He battled cancer valiantly, but ultimately he found victory by running into the arms of his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
To me Dave was a best friend, a counselor, a brother, a fellow theologian, a co-laborer in the Gospel, and also a golfing buddy. He was my Barnabas. Everyone who is growing in spiritual health needs three people in their life:
1) A Timothy—someone you are discipling
2) A Paul—someone who is discipling and mentoring you
3) A Barnabas—a peer, a brother or sister in Christ, who can encourage you and challenge you.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AS TO WHY DAVE’S LIFE HAD SUCH HUGE IMPACT?
1. Dave’s love for his wife.
Ephesians 5:25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her
Dave lit up every time he talked about Debra. He was thoroughly amazed that he was able to convince her to marry him those many years ago. He loved her more with each passing year, and this example drew people to listen to and emulate Dave.
2. Dave’s love for his children.
3 John 4 (NLT) I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.
Dave and Debra had two children, Dave, Jr. and Patricia. They were reared to love and serve the Lord. They married amazing spouses as Dave’s family grew with the addition of another daughter, Amber, and another son, Brent. Dave was so proud of the men and women of God his children had become. People who knew Dave’s children, were influenced to follow his example which led to significant impact.
3. Dave’s love for his grandchildren.
Proverbs 17:6 (NLT) Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.
Dave beamed anytime he talked about his grandchildren. O I understand that every grandparent delights in talking about their grandkids, but Dave’s joy was from how his grandchildren were learning to walk with Jesus. There was never a day in their lives when his grandchildren were not taught the word of the Lord. As people watched Dave’s grandchildren, his impact grew.
4. Dave’s love for his friends.
Proverbs 17:17 & 18:24b (NLT) A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need…a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
Dave was an incredible friend—faithful, loyal, honest, Christ-centered—he provided me with encouragement, unconditional love, counsel, and companionship. Knowing he was always there for me was a tremendous source of strength. But Dave also loved me enough to get in my face when I was going down the wrong path. I remember one time when I was getting cynical and discouraged. He really dressed me down and told me to stop taking myself so seriously. A friend who will do this is someone to be treasured. This kind of person has impact.
5. Dave’s love for Christ’s bride—the Church.
1 Peter 5:2–4 (NLT) Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
Dave spent 20 years in the U.S. Army retiring as a Major. He had been trained as a pastor before his military service, and desired to return to the pastorate upon his retirement. He pastored two churches in Indiana: Beacon Baptist Church in Shelbyville, and Pleasant Heights Baptist Church in southeast Indianapolis. His faithfulness to his congregation, the sacrificial love he had for his people, his commitment to the glory of God and teaching God’s word, caused many to bring themselves under his ministry. His influence grew exponentially as he faithfully and accurately exposited God’s truth.
Why did Dave so love the church? This brings me to the ultimate reason for Dave’s impact:
6. Dave’s love for his Lord.
1 Peter 1:8–9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
Dave loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. God was not a part of Dave’s life. He was Dave’s life! He followed and served Jesus, because of his great love for his Lord.
I’ve heard it said that people don’t care what you believe until they determine whether or not they want to be like you. I want to be like Dave and that is because of how he lived his life in surrender to his Lord and Savior.
If you think your impact will come from building a successful business, or accumulating wealth, or having power over a large number of subordinates, you are sadly mistaken. It is these foundational things I’ve outlined from Dave’s life that will be the measure of your impact.
What is encouraging is that each of us can have impact by following Dave’s example. He made the main things the main things…leading to tremendous influence. Only eternity will fully reveal his lasting impact.
What will you take away from the lessons of Dave’s life?
I miss him; I grieve his passing; but I will never get over his impact!