It recently happened to me again in the local grocery store. Someone walked up to me, extended a hand and said, “Hey, Pastor Butler. How are you today?” I smiled and said I was doing well. We talked briefly about the weather and such, never getting into any specifics about anything.
And then the person walked away, and I wondered to myself, “Brad, who was that?”
I recognized the face. I am confident it was not a member of my own church — at least, I think I’m confident. But I could not put a name to that face.
Now the most obvious reason I did not remember the name is that I’m older than I used to be. In the almost eight years I have served as pastor of First Baptist in Pembroke, my girth has grown, my hair has turned grayer and my memory is not as adept as it once was.
But there are other reasons as well, and no, I’m not just making excuses. I write for this newspaper every week, so my picture is in the paper. Some of you know who I am, but we have never been introduced. The same thing happens when I preach at a funeral or a special event in town. You may see me and know who I am, but I can’t quite place you even if we have been introduced.
You see, that’s the nature of life in a small town. Everyone seems to know me. That can be a source of pressure. After all, if I do something foolish, someone is watching.
I need to be careful, or I could destroy my own testimony. It’s not as if I am famous worldwide, but certainly in this part of the county I am known by a lot of people. That’s just how it is.
But can I remind you of something? Even if you are known only by a handful of people, there is someone who is watching you, too. It may be a child. It may be a non-believer or skeptic, just waiting to see if you live up to what you claim to believe. You need to be careful not to blow your testimony as well.
And more importantly than all that, God is watching everything you do. In fact, God knows our thoughts! If that doesn’t take your breath away, I don’t know what will.
We need to live in such a way that reflects our knowledge that God is always watching. He knows our hearts and thoughts. He still loves us. But he wants us to grow in holiness.
May I encourage you to keep that in mind? It just may change the way you approach life. And that could be a good thing.