The greatest of God’s preachers and prophets do not ride white steeds through the ivory gates of glory. Rather, like Dr. Roger Spradlin, the Oklahoma farm boy called by God to become one of the greatest men of God in this generation, they walk up the golden avenue in star-struck humility and abundant gratitude to God to bow at last before the Lord who redeemed and called them into His service.
Roger checked out of Hotel Earth for the quickest journey of his life on Sunday, November 5, at the age of 68 years. Almost every moment of his exemplary life was spent in the vineyard of his King. (Please see the wonderful story written by Art Toalston with SBC News Service, November 6, 2023). I have reason to believe that Roger’s first thoughts upon recalling his sermons on heaven centered on the magnitude of the realities he experienced in stark contrast to his most profound efforts to introduce heaven to his parishioners. Then it all paled into insignificance when he encountered his Ombudsman and heard Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And Charity! No longer the little girl he had loved so much but adorned in the beauty of glory--the heavenly reunion was extraordinary!
For a moment, could we who yet await that transformation contemplate that which made Roger Spradlin such a remarkable servant of God? I will do this in keeping with the farm boy I first knew when he came to school at the Criswell College. Like so many of our Criswell graduates, Roger remained the enthusiastic and anointed shepherd of the Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California, for almost forty years. He grew the church from a small beginning to a lighthouse of more than 3,000 souls. You see, Roger knew that a church is like a cattle guard. A church is relatively simple but staggering in its complexity. A cattle guard has eight to twelve pipes laid in the ground. Crossing them, after opening the gate, is a simple matter accentuated with dangerous complexity! The principle is simple. Watch carefully; step only directly on one of the pipes, and cross to the other side. Whatever you do, do not miss a pipe or slip from one, plunging a foot into an abyss and sometimes breaking an ankle.
To be a pastor one must be certain of only a few steps. First, keep your walk with the Savior one that becomes the most amazing adventure of your life. Second, make your wife the queen of your kingdom, and your children the objects of your greatest affection. Third, treasure the cattle and sheep of the congregation as your most valuable investment and faithfully nourish them on the sustenance of the explicated Word of God. Fourth, be certain that you preside over the constant birth of new lambs and calves so that the herd grows. Fifth, keep your moral life and even your conversation and actions as nothing except what you would say and do if Jesus sat with you.
These protocols are precisely the way Roger Spradlin lived, behaved, and spoke. The result may not be perfection, but beyond all negation, the result was a fabulous life, exemplary leadership, a Christlike family, and the intense admiration of just about all who knew him. Thank you, precious Lord, for sending us a man on whom we could depend. Thank you, Roger, for being a great friend and fellow laborer in this great kingdom work. Have a grand time with the saints and tell them we are on the way!
Paige Patterson, President
Sandy Creek Foundation