Bro. Bobby Roberson was my only pastor growing up. His humble spirit and love for Christ ignited something in this preacher boy that I just cannot explain to you. I grew up at Gospel Light Baptist Church all my life. I was saved in our Christian school when I was seven and called to preach at Gospel Light Christian Camp when I was thirteen.
The time came when I began to consider Bible college. I visited several great colleges and just did not have any peace about any of them. One in particular I visited with Bro Bobby as he was to be the guest speaker that week. Oh how I remember that week so vividly!
I remember how antsy I was, asking my pastor every question I could think of. In his humble and compassionate way he instilled more in me on that trip than I could ever thank him for. He helped me pray about the decision of Bible college and said (as he often did), “Just wait on God. He’ll show you.”
When we came home from that trip, I was still discouraged. I still had not seen the writing in the sky as to where to go to Bible college, and by this point I was a little frustrated. I remember that it was dark and rainy outside when we pulled into Gospel Light. For some reason I looked up at the giant steeple above, and God spoke to me right then. He said, “Tyler, this is my place for you.”
At the time I was not content with that answer. I was going to go away to college and do big things for God, not stay where I have been all my life! But now, looking back, I know that God had me there to learn a pastor’s heart from one of the greatest pastors of our day. I commuted to Bible college close to home and was able to continue serving at Gospel Light. With a magnifying glass in hand I watched my pastor closely and soaked up everything I could. Here are a few things I learned from Bro Bobby.
Longevity speaks volumes. I can honestly say that I was spoiled rotten with the privilege of having such a faithful pastor. Bro Bobby served as the pastor of Gospel Light for almost sixty-two years. Those years were filled with a heart attack, nervous breakdown, church splits, cancers, and the loss of his sweetheart. Yet, through the darkest days God led him to be an anchor that many could find encouragement and help.
As a young preacher, I saw this as Bro Bobby’s super power. I never met a man more compassionate towards people. He had a genuine love for young people and would not hesitate to make them feel special. If you were to knock on doors in Walkertown and the surrounding areas, you would meet scores of people that have ridden the old yellow buses to Gospel Light. Why? Because a man saw a need and moved with compassion to fulfill it.
I feel as though compassion has faded among God’s people today. The “building your own empire” mentality has crippled the effectiveness of the local church and has hidden the the light of the Gospel to a dark and desperate world. Bro. Bobby taught me that if I wished to pastor a people, I must be willing to pastor a person. I can’t tell you how many times people would say that he spent countless hours with them as if he had nowhere else to go. He didn’t see people as an inconvenience, but as individuals who needed a push toward Christ.
There is no doubt that Bro Bobby was a simple country boy with a genuine spirit. He was just going to be who God wanted him to be, and that was final. I remember his joking about how he tried to preach like Dr. Lee Roberson and Dr. Harold B. Sightler and just couldn’t do it. He was content with simple, and he certainly wasn’t going to put on a show for anyone.
He wasn’t impressed by the accolades people often gave him. He would always jokingly say later, “That has about as much meat on it as the curl of a pig’s tail.” Bro. Bobby was just real because he wanted to show the world a real Christ!
But before you think that my pastor was an “untouchable,” he would be the first to remind you of just how those blessings of ministry came. Although his life was a fulfilled and joyous journey with Jesus, he experienced a breaking of body and will. God doesn’t just seek to use clean vessels, but wants broken ones. Bro. Bobby lived through many “breakings” before God took him home on February 12, 2018.
I pray often that God would give me the heart of the pastor I loved for so many years. But I know that heart will come with a price that I cannot choose. But if it means that I will stand before a high and holy God and hear, “Well done thy good and faithful servant,” then I will most gladly therefore glory in mine infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.