Photo on 5-9-13 at 9.33 PM #2by Robert Earl Houston

You ever looked at your calendar, pastor? Looked at all of the events, the Revivals, the Annual Days, the Conventions, the Conferences, the Continuing Education events . . . only to discover you don’t have any time to live?

I’m in the process of deleting some events from my calendar for a very good reason – I need some time to enjoy life. I’m 53 years old, a husband, a father, a pastor of a thriving congregation, a State President, Chairman of a Publishing Board for our state General Association, a board member of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, member of the Frankfort/Franklin County Ministerial Association, and on and on and on.

I discovered three things:

# 1 – Things Will Go On Without You

At 53, I’m not trying to make a name. I think that’s already been done by history. I’ve pastored 4 churches, held positions, preached, played, sang, read scripture, counted money, and done whatever has been asked of me denominationally. I’m at the point now where notoriety is no longer sought out.

When I was at Dr. Timothy James Winters’ funeral, several of the pastors there asked me for my business card and I reached into my pocket, and there weren’t any there. I brought them with me, but it wasn’t a high priority item – I came there to mourn my friend’s death and celebrate his entrance into eternal life.

Life will show you that it goes on without you. Every group I’ve ever been a part of has continued to thrive. Every convention that I have worked for is still doing the work of the Kingdom. Even a break, brother pastor, will show you that.

#2 – There is a Generational Shift

At 53, me and many others in our 50s are hurriedly moving into the category of “sages.” Many years ago, Dr. Asa W. Sampson, Sr. of Houston, TX brought me to Houston to preach and he showed me the area of Houston where, then, many of the successful pastors in Houston lived at – It was on a street called “Sage Trail.”

The progression goes from young preacher, to pastor, to senior (whether it’s seniority or job title) to sage. The purpose of a sage is to be a resource to young pastors who are coming behind you in ministry. Of a truth, many of the preachers that I hang out with now are younger, who seek out my fellowship, advice, and sometimes ask for very blunt assessments – like many of us did 20 years ago.

Frankly, some of us who’ve been around for years and years need to move out of the way in conventions and let the younger guys give leadership. One thing that the early PNBC fathers did were to allow some brash 30 and 40 year olds give leadership to the group – men like J. Alfred Smith, Sr., Ralph W. Canty, and others. Fresh minds are not a threat to me at this age.

#3 – There’s No Place Like Home

As many of us know, being on the road can be burdensome and tiring. In my 20s and 30s – no a problem, but as I mature, I don’t want to spend 30-40 weeks on the road. It’s not healthy for any pastor to be gone so much that when he preaches on Sunday, his congregation treats him like a guest preacher instead of their pastor.

At this point, relationships with my members is more important than ever. Ministering to my wife and family, as they become older and start making the procession to the grave, is now more important than ever. A few weeks ago I went home to see my Mother and her caregiver dressed her “church style” and my family members took pictures together, thanks to a family friend.  I stepped out of the living room and into the kitchen where my aunt was and shed some tears – because I didn’t know if this was going to be the last time I would see mom alive or not.

Relationships with my wife, our extended family are now more important than ever. My church knows (I pray) that their pastor loves them very, very much. It’s been a great 5 years with this congregation and looking forward to many more – but I’m doing some things now to make myself available to them, because again, relationship are now more important than ever.


1.  Travel. Not to places you’ve always gone to, but create a memory by going to new places.

2.  Try new food. I try to make a habit of checking out local restaurants. I don’t do breakfast at Denny’s in Los Angeles, because they’re everywhere – so I’ll try Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, because I can’t get that here.

3.  Try some new hobbies. In a few days, I’m going to take up two hobbies – one is playing a guitar. My father was a bass guitar player and one of the things I wanted to do in High School, but never followed through on, was playing a bass. I love acoustic jazz music and I can’t wait to learn how to play a guitar.

4.  Enjoy life. I’m on a second week of not eating processed sugar or adding it to my diet and so far it’s been great – face is “thinning out” (I’m almost back to one chin – LOL) and waist line is getting smaller. Food tastes differently, sleep is better (I try not to eat after sunset), and I have not more energy, but better energy.

Because, you only live (here) once.


3 responses

  1. Doc You don’t know how you have challenged me in this!

    This struck a deep cord!

    I got to do something different!

    Sent from my iPad


  2. By the way Doc!

    You are looking like the bomb!

    Send me the diet!

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Rev.Houston, Thanks so much for sharing your most inner thoughts and life’s adventures. I do agree with you at the age of 53 you should take the next step that God has prepared you for, because you have been trained, you’ve traveled and now you’ve obtained the wisdom to be able to do what he has already planned for you. Keep on keeping on in His Name, I rejoice in all the great things he has in store for you to do yet.

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by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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