Published June 12, 2014
Darrell Quinn has always sought advice from older pastors in the ministry and has tried to graft those bits of wisdom into his own life. Perhaps no bit of insight has taken root more than the words from legendary Baptist statesman R.G. Lee.
The longtime Memphis pastor, who served at Bellevue Baptist Church and preached the famous “Pay Day Someday” sermon, told the young Quinn, “The most important thing you can do as a pastor is to put down roots and build up a ministry.”
The 63-year-old pastor at Mount Vernon Baptist Church celebrated his 30th anniversary at the Baxley church in March. It is only the second congregation he has served in 40 years of ministry, having led his first church, Gresston Baptist Church in Dodge County, for seven years.
His secret to pastoral longevity?
“Don’t let both sides of a controversy get mad at you at the same time,” he says with a laugh. Then he attributes it to another legend, Memphis pastor Fred Woods.
Quinn grew up in Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins under the tutelage of his mentor, Rastus Salter. Not only did the church provide him with the spiritual roots for his eventual call to ministry, but introduced him to the young woman who would also share that ministry.
Source of support
Susan Quinn has adapted well to that role, serving as the primary source of support both emotionally and spiritually.
“I run the house because there are so many demands on his time. Being a pastor is a fulltime job and when he finally comes home his brain needs a rest. I believe that home should be a refuge and I work to provide that quiet place for him to reflect and recharge,” she says.
Susan has her own nuggets of wisdom to young pastors wives: “Be sure you love God and your husband with all your heart because if you can do that, you will have a trinity to serve years together.”
Susan adds that the pastor’s wife will not please everyone in the church; she may not sing or play the piano. But her primary role is to give constructive criticism and be a helpmate to her husband when needed … “which will be pretty much all the time.”
And then she jokingly adds, “Don’t speak to him on Sundays or Mondays.”
It’s a difficult role, she asserts. Seeing Quinn make hospital visits and being on the road for hours to Atlanta, Savannah, Jacksonville … “a lot of time away from our three girls.”
When Darrell thinks back over his longevity at Mount Vernon he says quietly, “I’ve been fortunate.”
Mount Vernon averaged 100 in average Sunday attendance when he accepted the call in 1984. Now, with a new sanctuary dedicated in 2005, that number has grown to 200. But it’s not all about growth, especially when the mission field is in a sparsely populated section of the state.
“Growth is hard to come by. All the growth we’ve experienced is due to the blessing of the Lord.”
He then reflected on how hard it is to reach the unchurched in today’s world.
“Thirty years ago you would put up a revival sign and they would come because they didn’t have many other options. Today they have many good things that compete with their schedule … such as school ball games on Wednesday night and Sunday… good folks just wanting to spend quality time with their children and don’t know how to find time for both.”
Passing it on
Now that he is a senior pastor in his 60s he has advice he shares with younger men as they begin their ministries.
His most important advice is to “keep your mind focused on Jesus because folks will let you down. Whenever they do, disagreeing on long-range church plans or whatever, Jesus is still the same. Keep your focus on Him.”
He harkens back to a day when, as the oldest member in a class at Luther Rice Seminary, students were sharing why they entered the ministry. The most common response was because the individuals “loved working with people.”
When it came his time to speak he commented that if that was an individual’s overwhelming reason they would most likely eventually leave the ministry.
He then offered his own perspective of how to deal with differences of opinion when they emerge in a congregation: “Back down, slow down, run back to Jesus.”
And that’s what keeps him balanced as he enters his next decade of ministry.
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