|(Dakota Hancock giving tribute to Pastor Bobby & Lynn Thompson)|
I was privileged to have Pastor Bobby as my youth pastor from the time he came on staff here during my eighth-grade year until I graduated this past year. Sitting under his teaching and having him and Lynn as godly examples and friends has been such a blessing. Pastor Bobby always said his main goal as a youth pastor was that by the time a student graduated from high school, that if they’re consistently doing their devotions and have developed a love for God’s Word, he was successful and had done his job. Pastor Bobby is the person God has used to help me develop a love for God’s Word. He’s the one who taught me how to really study God’s Word effectively. I’m so glad for his love for God’s glory and his faithfulness in his teaching. I’m so thankful for the Thompsons’ influence on my life.
I had Pastor Bobby as youth leader the upper part of high school. It was very formative. At that time I had decided that I wanted to go into full-time ministry. Pastor Bobby really helped me figure out—“If you really want to do it, then do it. But if you feel like that’s not really what you want to do, don’t joke yourself into doing something you don’t really want to do.” So we talked about it. He was always my youth pastor and always my superior, yet he always was my friend. I knew I could always come to talk to him about anything.
(During the service to honor Pastor Bobby, Cody played the role of ‘Pastor Bobby.’ Jonita Barram recently interviewed Cody regarding the impact Pastor Bobby has had on his life.)
When you played him in the skit, which of his speech or behavior idiosyncrasies were you spoofing?
He does talk slow. Some of his idiosyncrasies were he always leans back in the chair. I’ve been to a couple of staff meetings, but the guys told me that he always has food. So I brought the backpack and I had Sprees, one of his favorite kinds of candies.
When I poured the candy in my mouth—Pastor Bobby will do that. He’ll get a handful of candy and then tuck it into one side of his cheek. He’ll talk to you, but he’ll be eating candy at the same time.
He’s also on his Mac a lot. One thing I talked to Pastor about is that he [Pastor Bobby] will be in staff meeting, and Pastor will ask a question. Pastor Bobby’s on his computer, he’ll Google it, and he’ll come up with the answer really quick. And Pastor’s like, “How do you know that.” “Uh, it’s on the computer.” So when I was on the laptop, that’s like Pastor Bobby.
What do you admire most about him?
The focus of his life. His focus is on the glory of God. It says in Corinthians whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God, and that’s Pastor Bobby’s motto, his creed, for anything and everything that he does. That’s what I admire most about him.
Summarize the ongoing influence he had on your life after you graduated high school.
Once I graduated high school and went to college, I really got to transition to more of a friendship role with him. We do have a really good friendship, and I’m going to be e-mailing him and stuff when he’s gone.
Pastor Bobby was my youth pastor for two years. His greatest influence on me was teaching me how to preach and teach. He did this by both example and instruction.
I learned a lot about presenting God’s Word just by watching Pastor Bobby. I loved how he picked out key phrases in a passage and highlighted their significance. One example was his teaching on 1 Thessalonians 4:3–5. The passage reads: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.”
I had read this passage many times before, but I had never noticed the significance of that last phrase, “who do not know God.” Pastor Bobby made the point that sexual immorality is the result of not knowing God; on the other hand, sexual purity is the result of knowing God. Or to say it another way: Holiness of life is directly related to my knowledge of God. The more I know God personally, the holier I will be.
This was huge for me—not just as a teenager but also as an aspiring preacher. A preacher could talk a congregation’s ear off about sexual immorality, abstinence, holiness, the will of God, and the like, but if he never gives them a basis for how to apply the truth, he leaves them without hope. Pastor Bobby’s many examples of seeing what is significant in the text helped me grow as a preacher.
Pastor Bobby also helped me by direct instruction. He allowed me to teach Sunday School for a week during my junior year. In the weeks leading up to my lesson, Pastor Bobby gave me materials to read, and he also sat with me and reviewed my manuscript, providing helpful feedback. Pastor Bobby also reviewed a lesson I taught for teen VBS in 2009 and my first sermon for a college evening service in 2010. To this day, I value the instruction he gave me.
Therefore, I learned much about preaching and teaching from Pastor Bobby. I can honestly say that this was his greatest influence on me. My desire to preach and teach God’s Word is largely due to Pastor Bobby.
One of my favorite hymns begins with these words: “How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord / Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! / What more can He say than to you He hath said / To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?” The point of that verse is to remind us that the Word of the living God is totally sufficient for our faith and obedience!
One of the greatest blessings a teenager can have is a youth pastor who not only believes this with his head but also practices this in his ministry. I thank the Lord with all my heart: Pastor Bobby believes in the Word of God and centered his entire ministry on the Word of God. It was the foundation for everything he did. And when I say “foundation,” I don’t mean like the foundation of a house that everyone assumes is there but no one can see; that’s not how Pastor Bobby did ministry. When I say “foundation,” I mean that the Word of God permeated every aspect of Pastor Bobby’s ministry: it was in the kitchen, it was in the living room—it was everywhere!
And here’s why I know this was true about Pastor Bobby’s ministry: Pastor Bobby knows the main point of the Bible. The Bible is about Jesus. It’s about the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s about God’s glory and value, not our glory and value.
So I know Pastor Bobby centered His ministry on the Word of God because every sermon or lesson I heard from him was ultimately about the glory of God and the gospel of God.
Pastor Bobby kept what is central to God central to his ministry. All the planets of ministry—preaching, discipleship, missions trips, service projects—revolved around the sun of God’s glory in the gospel. God’s greatest passion was Pastor Bobby’s greatest passion—and still is. And for that, I admire him.
The impact that Pastor Bobby has had on my life is immense. His personal friendship to me has helped me grow closer to Christ and love people more. Pastor Bobby invested in me, taught me, counseled me, and prayed for me. He gave me opportunities to teach Sunday School, preach sermons on missions trips, give devotionals, play the piano for youth group, plan games, and so much more. Pastor Bobby is most responsible for allowing me to develop the gifts God has given me and teaching me to use those gifts for God’s glory and the good of others. Through his life he has always pointed me away from himself, away from myself, away from any other created thing, and pointed me to Christ and Christ alone—and for that I am eternally grateful. I love Pastor Bobby and always thank God for him. I am glad he was my youth pastor and is also my friend.
What Impact has Pastor Bobby had on your life? What will you remember from his years as Youth Pastor at FBC? Share your thoughts with us below.