I learned this afternoon of the death of one of the best pastors I’ve had a joy to know, Pastor Herbert Stemler. This is a photo of him and me from the night of my ordination in 2012.
Pastor Stemler was the Congregational Care Pastor at the church I grew up at, where he served faithfully for many years. He taught me a so much through our conversations. He gave me my first introduction to Reformed theology by lending me a treasured book of his, a little book of excerpts from John Calvin. He shared about the experience of doing ministry, the joys and the sorrows — ideally shared over a good meal.
He had a bitting wit, but even more compassion. His joy when he was given the opportunity to share God’s Word was unmistakable. He delighted in the beauty of God’s world — his eyes always twinkled especially when he spoke of going to his little Christmas Tree farm that occupied a lot of his time off duty.
The best lessons he gave me had to come from watching as he cared selflessly for his flock and always made time for anyone who needed it. As I witnessed the sacrifices he made for others, I learned what it meant to truly be committed to shepherding the people God calls you to care for. There were times he sacrificed for me that will remain etched in my mind for the rest of my life.
That example has profoundly influenced the ministry work God has allowed me to do. There have been times I’ve tried to figure out what I should do as a pastor and God nudged me on by reminding me of Pastor Stemler’s example.
I’m so thankful God allowed me to know this godly servant of his. I look forward to someday seeing him again in Jesus’s presence.