This blog is dedicated to my best friend my father on his 32-year anniversary as Senior Pastor of Phoenix First Assembly. My dad Tommy Barnett has been in ministry for almost 60 years. He is my best friend! I remember, as a little boy, waiting over two hours after services while he shook hands with every person in church. A megachurch pastor who always had time for the one. It was well worth the two-hour wait to drive home with my best buddy.
The thing I love the most about my dad is that he is the most optimistic man I’ve ever met. He’s been through everything in the ministry. Amazing victories, incredible miracles, and the ugly side of slander and betrayal. When you are in the ministry at the level he’s been for sixty years, there is a lot of heartbreak. I’ve seen my father close the door, go into his bedroom, and cry all night over tough times in the church. I’ve also been in family meetings where he asked us if we could give every penny of our savings to the church TWICE. As a preacher’s son you learn a lot about the emotional life of a pastor.
However, I’ve never seen him stay down longer than twenty-four hours.
WHEN YOU ARE SO POSITIVE IN LIFE, YOU GET BORED STAYING DOWN TOO LONG.
He has always chosen to see the miracle side of life. That’s where I want to live…on the miracle side of life. He’s appreciated every step of the journey. He’s wept over the little children who put a little picture made with crayons with a penny taped to it under his door. He’s been a friend to the convict coming out of jail who needed a job. He’s taken huge risks with people who others had written off. More than all of that, he’s enjoyed every step of the journey.
I will never forget about five years ago when we were going to a professional golf tournament on a Saturday. We were in a rush to get through the gate and see Tiger Woods play. We passed a house with beautiful flowers and my dad said, “Boy, stop right now!” He said, “Look at these beautiful flowers!” We were like, “Yeah, yeah, dad great.” We kind of ignored him and then he literally screamed at us, “You boys come back here and look at these gorgeous California flowers.” We knew he was serious and we went back and admired the flowers with my dad for about five minutes. It was a well-deserved rebuke and one of the most important rebukes I’ve ever received. This declaration he made to stop and smell the flowers was exactly the way he has lived his life. It was a defining moment.
He was basically saying, DON’T EVER WALK ON BY THE LITTLE MOMENTS JUST TO GET TO THE BIG ONES. It was more than a rebuke, it was a life lesson. I realized on that day why he is one of the few in ministry to stay in the battle for sixty years and not get disillusioned or defeated. He realizes that life is a journey and not a sprint and the way to win it all in the Cause of Christ is to STOP AND SMELL the roses. My father has taught me that endurance is the key and that, little by little, the journey adds up to a glorious life that continues to evolve into something special when you enjoy the journey.
Never have I appreciated a rebuke so much. Love you dad!