Gary Derbyshire

A Sunday in the Life of a Pastor

Gary Derbyshire

Please don't get sick.

At 4:45 am, on Palm Sunday, my alarm went off from my phone by the bedside. It usually takes me about 15 minutes to get out of bed and be functional, and I don’t want anything taking away from my hour with the Lord to begin the day. I sniffed, a bit congested and grumbled at the thought of getting the same fever plaguing my six-year-old son, Karim. He slept in the room closest to us last night so I could hear him if the fever woke him. I seriously think that our family is sick year-round.

I grabbed my headphones, Bible, journal, and copy of Francis Chan’s Forgotten God, sat on the couch for  a quiet hour with the Lord. I prayed for my three small children, as well as the fourth in the oven. Right on cue, my four-year-old strolled in wanting her morning hug. She cuddled by my side for a bit before I dismissed her to find a dress she liked for church. I continued praying for my wife and the toll the latest pregnancy had taken on her body. I prayed for my neighbor down the road who had just committed His life to Christ not a month before on the same couch on which I was sitting. I read a couple of chapters from the book of Amos and began committing chapter three, verses seven through eight to memory. I read a few pages out of Frances Chan’s book before it was 6 o’clock and time to get ready for the day. By then my daughter had paraded herself before me in her carefully selected dress and was watching Veggietales on a tablet. My wife was giving our son, still quite feverish, some medicine and love. I went to our bedroom to shower, dress, shave, and get psyched up with some Dustin Smith, Young & Free, Shai Linne, and Lecrae.

Working alongside the church mouse.

 I came out of the bedroom to see two-year-old Imani wanting her morning "uppy" and that my wife had breakfast on the table. We ate together, practiced our family memory verse for the week (John 3:16) and sang “God, You are My God,” together. My poor wife had to stay home with the baby and the sick boy, while Naima and I headed to church at 7:15. We pulled in to the familiar parking lot of Apollo Baptist Church and walked to my office. While Naima played patiently in my office, I printed my sermon notes, the sermon handout, and an information packet on our church fast later that week and told Naima it was time to walk to the Worship Center. She followed close behind with a box of markers and paper to color. I was greeted as always by Brother Jeff as he went to go make copies of the sermon handout I had printed for him. I prayed with our music team and listened to the music minister run through the service order. I then walked over to the tech team and began to run through the sermon notes with the presentation Mary had prepared, correcting errors and submitting last minute changes. At about 8:30, it was time for Naima and I to walk over to the nursery to check her in for the morning. She gave her teacher a big hug and waved me on.

By this time the parking lot was beginning to swell with church members greeting one another and walking to their Bible Study classes. I waved and greeted people on my way to teach the Discover Apollo Class with Jim, our Care Pastor, and had a blessed time.  Five people of vastly different ages and spiritual backgrounds were talking about how to use doctrine and  theology to defend and express the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I handed the class over to Jim and walked to the Worship Center to greet people.

Praise God for changed lives. Also, don't get sick.

The Worship Center was abuzz with people catching up with old friends, meeting new people, and finding seats. I was flagged down by an elderly lady I had visited a couple months ago to pray for her back surgery. We had prayed God would restore her relationship with her daughter who lived out of state. She was excited to tell me she and her daughter had reconciled after years of complete separation and she was moving in with her tomorrow! I told her we would miss her but rejoiced with her for answered prayer. I saw my neighbor walk in with big smile on his face. Praise God for changed lives. I had just met a few visitors and caught up with the youth pastor before the music minister began to lead us in our first song. It was an awesome service with tremendous energy. As I preached from Matthew 21:1-17 on the Triumphal Entry I began to feel my son’s cold creep into my sinuses and joints.  However, the Holy Spirit got me through with energy to spare.

Grateful to be a part of what God is doing in people.

After the service, I took my normal position by the door and shook hands with people as they went out. I was approached by a young mom who was being discipled by a church member and wanting to attend the Discover Apollo class to find out more about being a Christian. I grateful God made us a part of what He is doing in her life. When everyone had left, Naima and I headed home for lunch. Two-year-old Imani squealed and screamed when her daddy walked through the door. We sat down and had a cozy family lunch before putting the kids down for a nap. I took some medication and went down for a quick nap before heading back, feeling much better, to the church for my meeting with the pastoral staff. We prayed together, discussed our finishing the book of Acts together and the next preaching series.

It is a privilege to be spent for God's people.

I dismissed them as the Personnel Committee was arriving for our monthly meeting. We had a great time discussing the staffing needs of the church and recounting what God had done the previous year. I dismissed them in time to put finishing touches on the lesson for our Evening Workshop. My wife dropped off the girls just before the service started and I got to hug the slumped over, still-feverish boy before he and mommy returned home for a hot bath and early bed. I took the girls to their class and went to lead the Evening Workshop. Sixty-some people sat in our Fellowship Center eating refreshments as the music team led them in singing worship songs at the top of their lungs. I led a large group discussion on church membership from 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. The conversation started with those in attendance was dynamic with a lot of people offering good insight. My girls and I left a great scene of kids, parents, and elderly church members lingering in the parking lot to just hang out and talk.

Crud, I'm sick.

I pulled into the garage at 8:00 p.m. tired and definitely sick, but grateful to God. We put our kids down for bed and waited for company. Our newly saved neighbor and his wife were bringing pizza over. We were tired, so we prayed that God would use our time with our neighbors for His glory. They came over and we had a great time talking about what God had recently done in the husband’s life. I shared the Gospel with his wife, who listened intently while she offered a lot of great insights into our discussion. I encouraged them to continue to pray and discuss the Gospel at home, thanked them for the pizza, and they walked the 30 feet back to their place.

Praising God and being quite spent, my wife and I crashed in bed and rewatched a few minutes of Transformers 1. What ever happened to that franchise? It started so strong. Anyway, 2 Corinthians 12:15b says, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” It was a great day to be spent for God’s people. I have a great job. Every day is a day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Gary Derbyshire

Gary is the Senior Pastor of Apollo Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. Gary's biggest life influence is his loving parents, who originally taught him the Gospel and biblical exposition, and still live as missionaries in Asia. The next biggest influence is his loving wife, a gifted worship leader and evangelist to their children.

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Gary Derbyshire