Pastors That Inspired My Ministry by Dr. Gary Dull

 The month of October is dedicated as Pastors Appreciation month.  I was recently asked if there were any pastors that influenced my ministry over the years and certainly I could name more than a few.  Pastors have the unique opportunity to live a rather public life and speak thousands of sermons which profoundly affect those around them.

As we look back over the history of America, we see that there were many pastors who stood in the pulpit and proclaimed the truth of God no matter the cost. In fact, some of those pastors were willing to take off their robe, walk away from their pulpit, put on a uniform and literally go to war to fight for freedom because they believed in truth and wanted to see a nation founded on the principles of the Word of God. Many of those pastors had an influence upon our founding fathers and early leaders in our nation, which led them to establish America on biblical principles.

But personally there are several pastors who come to my mind who had a great influence upon me.  One, particularly, did not even live in the United States of America. He ministered over in England, and his name was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, often referred to as the “Prince of Preachers.”  I find it very interesting that when you pull his sermons off of the library shelf and begin to read them, he addressed issues back in the 1850s and 60s that are very similar to what we face today in 2014.  Early on in my ministry, after reading some of his particular sermons, I was challenged to determine that no matter what the circumstances, it would be important for me to ‘stand in the gap’ and preach truth and righteousness into the church and the culture from the pulpit. One particular sermon he preached still rings in my mind that was entitled, “THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT,” in which he emphasized that Christians are to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Personally, I took from his words that preachers are to be the generals leading the church in the battle of spiritual warfare. He was a tremendous example to follow for those of us who are pastors.

Another pastor who also impressed me was Peter Marshall.  At one time, he served as the pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and eventually became the Chaplain of the United States Senate.  He was another pastor who was willing to speak to the issues, and bring the matter of truth and righteousness to the forefront. He often had people who served in government visit his congregation, but he never backed down from the strong message of the Word of God. He consistently ‘stood in the gap’, as it were, to proclaim truth to his hearers, many of whom had the opportunity to go to work the next day in the Capitol of the United States of America and make decisions based upon the sermon  he gave to them the day before from the pulpit. I’ve always been impressed by the way he used his pulpit to preach to those in government, particularly those in the federal government in Washington, D.C., on the important issues of truth and righteousness.

But in my lifetime, the pastor who made the greatest impact upon me regarding preaching the truth into the culture was Dr. Jerry Falwell.  I remember when he started out with his Moral Majority. Although he received a lot of criticism from Christians and non-Christians alike, he was not afraid to ‘stand in the gap’ for truth and righteousness. Because of his strong and fearless stand upon the Word of God, He led a core of pastors and Christians in this nation to commit to truth and righteousness, which I personally believe contributed to the establishment of a better nation in the 1980s and 90s.  Then of course, there was Dr. D. James Kennedy, who, along with Dr. Falwell, led Christians and morally minded Americans to ‘stand in the gap’ for truth and to make an impact for biblical principles in the nation.  And so there have been numerous pastors through the years whom I have looked up to and still do with great honor and respect, even though they are at home with the Lord.  Those I mentioned above were national speakers, with a national voice, and there is no doubt in my mind that they made an impact for truth and righteousness upon our entire country.

Along with those I have mentioned, I must also speak about my own Grandfather, Pastor Michael Theodore Hulihan, who was a pastor for nearly 60 years.  “Poppa”, as I called him, served five small churches in the years of his ministry but always preached the Word of God without compromise.  As I recall, in four of those five churches he had community leaders in his congregation Sunday after Sunday to hear his sermons (many of which I have in my files today). In addition, he would often be invited to city or township meetings to give his advice on various issues the community was facing at that time.  Believe me, he never backed down from the truth of the Word of God, and that made a very great impact upon my life as a youngster growing up in western Pennsylvania.  Even to this day as I face the issues of the ministry, I often wonder how Poppa would have responded to contemporary society.

We need more pastors like those I have mentioned in America today.  I’m very thankful for individual pastors who are in their local churches, standing for truth and righteousness on the local level like my grandfather. But more and more I pray that God will give us national voices like a Jerry Falwell, like a Peter Marshall, or like a D. James Kennedy, to lead this nation according to the truth of the Word of God that will bring honor and glory to the Lord.

During Pastor Appreciation Month, let’s pray for those who are preaching the truth of the Word of God into society without compromise.  In addition, let’s be sure to thank them for their service unto the Lord, the church and their community. But let’s also pray that God will raise up pastors into the pulpits of America who will ‘stand in the gap’ for truth and righteousness in order to lead the way back to the biblical principles upon which this nation was founded.

If you are a pastor, perhaps this would be a good time for you to examine what kind of an influence you are having for truth and righteousness in your community, your state or even the nation. Years ago, an older pastor asked me, “Gary, if you were to leave this town today, would anyone notice?”  His point was to get me to think about what kind of an impact I was having in the community outside the four walls of my church. And he was successful.  He made me think, and so I acted.

So, what about you, Pastor?  What impact are you making upon the society outside the four walls of your church?  Do people take notice?  That is something to think about today.

2 replies
  1. Dr alan pateman
    Dr alan pateman says:

    This pastor has inspired my life very much through the word ‘trouth for the journey’ he has gone to the extend of inviting me to attend conferences of connecting for excellence in italy but in vain on my side.

  2. Ra Jeanna Carson
    Ra Jeanna Carson says:

    The pastor that began my inspiration was Lester Sumrall. I was just 4 and 5 years old. Then my parents moved. My parents divorced and later I got away from the Lord. But after telling the Lord at age 15 I am going to go figure out Christianity–I was 51 when he came back into my life with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. A bubbling up in my abdomen manifested. Now 12 years later I am more like the lady at the well. Dependent on a relationship in my retirement years.


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