Do You Have
A Father's Dream
by John Gibbs
One of the most
in a father’s life comes when
his child chooses to follow in dad’s footsteps.
When our son Darin was a senior at Woodbine Christian Academy in Nashville, while addressing the school homecoming crowd, he shared his dreams and aspirations for his future. He mentioned several goals he wanted to accomplish, finishing the list with the statement, “I just want to follow in my dad’s footsteps.” Needless to say, his surprising words brought tears to my eyes.
As I traveled for the Home Missions team, spending many days away from home and from my family’s daily activities, I dreamed of what my children would become. My wife Doris and I prayed that God would use both of our children in ministry.
When Darin finished his education at Welch College, he began ministry as a youth pastor. That was his dream. Periodically, I would ask, “Would you like to pastor a church someday, Son?” His reply was always the same: “I don’t think so, Dad; that’s not for me.” He was involved in ministry, and that was good enough for me. His heart for teens, parents of teens, and children was exciting. Still, I dreamed on.
Neither Darin nor I recognized that God was preparing him for a larger ministry, just as Jabez when he asked God to enlarge his territory. I never doubted his capability, but he assured us time and again that he was content to remain in youth ministry or in a supportive role. All of that changed when God began to deal with him about becoming a pastor. My heart swelled with anticipation as his burden grew stronger. My dream was becoming a possibility!
After serving as associate pastor for five years, in 2011 I became senior pastor at First Free Will Baptist Church in Gastonia, North Carolina. The church understood I would continue until my 75th birthday in September 2013 before retiring from full-time ministry.
When the church began looking for my successor, Darin humbly admitted to the search committee that he would like to be considered. After much prayer and many father-son discussions, he submitted his name, resume, and vision to the deacon board. After weeks of prayer, fasting, and discussions, the church voted overwhelmingly to extend a pastoral call to Darin. His mother and I were ecstatic. My dream had come true, and our prayers had been answered!
The transition was smooth and culminated in a wonderful service where I “passed the mantle” to Darin. I had a beautiful mantle made especially for the day. During the service, I lovingly removed the mantle, representing the calling and responsibility of a pastor, from around my neck and placed it on Darin. I presented a Bible given to me when I began preaching in 1958, in St. Louis, Missouri. Then I turned to the 20-man deacon board assembled in the choir loft and “presented” the board to him. I challenged them to support and pray for him and to call him into account when needed.
I presented to him the senior saints represented by a precious 80-year-old lady. I challenged him to lead the various ages of the church represented by a family of four—husband, wife, teen, and child. Then I turned to the weeping and rejoicing congregation and said, “Son, this is your flock. You are now their shepherd.”
The service concluded with prayer for Darin, his wife Kim, daughters Makenna, Olivia, Julianna, and Lyla. Doris and I joined our daughter Julie and added our prayers of blessing on our new pastor.
What a day! A father’s dream had come true.
About the Writer: John Gibbs has spent more than 50 years in the ministry. He became a part of the Gastonia family in the summer of 2006.
A Note From Darin Gibbs:
I never dreamed my dad and I would work at the same church. It has been a tremendous blessing to watch him do what he has done for so many years—love people. Both of my parents have been an encouragement to many people, and to watch them in action is a real joy.
I honestly think my dad was surprised when I told him I felt God moving me into the pastorate. We prayed together, and spent many days talking through the pros and cons of being a senior pastor. Dad helped me understand that God was orchestrating this move and was strengthening my desire to move into this area of ministry. My wife Kim and I spent many days and nights praying that God would give us courage to do whatever He called us to do.
Many years ago, I heard Dad preach on Psalm 37. Verse 4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I’ve shared that verse with countless people. As I write this, my mind goes back to the marriage conference Kim and I attended several years ago when I shared the dream of pastoring with her. Looking back, I see God’s hand at every turn. What a comfort to know and serve a loving God!
It was truly an honor to have my dad pass the mantle to me. He placed it on me then prayed for God’s anointing. He gave me one of his first ministry Bibles. It is old and worn from many years of use. One of my daughters asked why Granddaddy gave me such an old, worn out Bible. I told her it was Granddaddy’s Bible, the one he used for many years, and it was a very special Bible. I don’t think she understands the significance, but I do. You see, one day, I want to give her one of my Bibles, one that is old and worn, one that I also used to share God’s love with people…just like my dad.
Dad has given me many things over the years, more than I can count. On that day, he gave me something that will last forever. He gave me a legacy of pastoral faithfulness, and a challenge to press on. For that I am truly grateful.