If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ve enjoyed more than a few tales from Seymour Wattenbarger, a beloved preacher from the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. I’ve shared a good bit of his humor with you over the years, and, in honor of his retirement, I thought we might take a look back at some of his funniest moments.
You might remember a year or two ago that I told you about having lunch with Seymour, and, on that particular day, he was on a tear about lazy Christians who never share the gospel with anyone.
“If breathing didn’t come natural, they’d smother to death,” Seymour said.
“I’ll never forget the time,” he continued, “that I saw this one fellow sitting under a shade tree, his hair blowing in the breeze, and him too lazy to run and get it.”
Seymour, now 80 years old, will work his last day as missions strategist at the Knox Association of Baptists on Dec. 31. That will mark a half century of ministry, primarily as a pastor. The Bible tells us that we should give “honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:7), so I thought it would be a good idea for us to honor Seymour today.
He’s enjoyed a very successful ministry, having introduced countless numbers of new believers to the Lord and having discipled lots of preachers.
Ministry is a serious business, and that’s why Seymour cherishes moments of levity. He loves to laugh, and he loves to make others laugh, and he did just that when he told us in this column not so long ago about a kindergarten teacher who asked her kids to bring in “show and tell” items that represent their religions.
The first child, Seymour said, took his turn, saying, “My name in Benjamin. I am Jewish, and this is a Star of David.”
The second child said, “My name is Mary. I am Catholic, and this is a crucifix.”
The third child said, “My name is Bubba. I am a Baptist, and this is a casserole dish.”
But my favorite Seymour tale actually happened many years ago when he was preaching a revival. A man widely known for his drinking and cavorting showed up, and Seymour’s first thought was that he had come to cause trouble. Seymour said the best way he knew to describe the fellow was as a reprobate. He would get home in the evenings, stumble out of his car and stagger up the sidewalk, cussing loudly and kicking at his dog.
That fellow got saved in Seymour’s revival service and immediately gave up his drinking and his wicked ways. The change was so drastic in that man that when he got home his dog didn’t recognize him and nearly ate him up.
Don’t assume Seymour will be taking up the rocking chair upon retirement. He plans to keep on preaching revivals and such. He may even serve as pastor if the Lord wills. What’s certain is that he’ll enjoy whatever he’s doing, because Seymour knows the joy of serving the Lord.
Roger Alford is pastor of South Fork Baptist Church. Reach him at 502-514-6857 or by writing to P.O. Box 673, Owenton, Ky. 40359.