As I was recently browsing old photos, I was blessed to realize that God has allowed me to know some truly great men who are now with the Lord. Throughout this summer, I’m sharing pictures and memories to introduce readers of this blog to some of these men. 

Lee Roberson

Unique Trait: Vision

Framed in the hallway outside my office are several handwritten pages from Dr. Lee Roberson with advice for building a Sunday school. Not only do these six pieces of paper have great advice. (On his list with “Essentials for a Growing Sunday School,” his first two points were 1. Faith in the Word of God and 2. A Burden for Souls.) But they remind me of a man whose influence I treasure. 

I had the privilege of first getting to know Dr. Roberson at a tent revival in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1980s. Each night I would sit in the car on the way to church from his hotel with a yellow pad and ask him questions. Often his answers were short. His replies to what I thought were complex questions would be advice such as, “Have faith in God” or “Die to self” or “Be filled with the Spirit.” It seems those short pieces of counsel have stuck with me through the decades. 

Dr. Roberson was the first fundamentalist to encourage me to write. He saw my first book on engaging a church in outreach. (It was titled TEAM Soulwinning, with TEAM standing for Train Every Available Member.) He told me it was wonderful and encouraged me to continue developing this gift. Since that time, I’ve written over thirty-five books which have sold over one million copies. I’m thankful for his encouragement to a young pastor at a time when many would have said I was too young to write—or even to have opinions.  

Dr. Roberson and his wife Caroline came to Lancaster on several occasions. I can recall sitting with them at the coffee shop in the Antelope Valley Inn discussing Scripture, doctrine, and ministry…and even his opinion on why a choir should wear robes! I can honestly say I took his counsel on dozens of issues, including naming our adult Sunday school classes and honoring elected officials, but I never felt right to have our choir wear robes. 

The great characteristic I remember about Dr. Roberson was his vision. God used him in a tremendous way as the pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga—a church that baptized forty thousand people during Dr. Roberson’s forty years as the pastor there. Four years after assuming that pastorate, Dr. Roberson also started Tennessee Temple University, which trained thousands of godly servants for Christian ministry. 

But Dr. Roberson’s vision was not something just for his ministry. He helped my vision for the impact our church could make in our community. He told me to “Pastor your whole city” and encouraged me in our building programs. He provided invaluable counsel and encouragement as we started West Coast Baptist College. 

I thank the Lord for the opportunity to have known and received the mentoring of Dr. Lee Roberson. And I thank the Lord for the ways in which his faith and vision inspired me to also develop a biblical vision of faith. His earliest advice to me was consistent through his entire life: “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). His example encourages me to similarly encourage the faith-filled vision of young pastors. 

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