‘More than anything, I wanted to make a difference’
By George Warren
As a Boy Scout, I learned to value personal integrity, service to others, and stewardship of nature. Whenever we went camping, our Scoutmaster, Mr. Kiley, reminded us to always leave the campsite better than we found it.
As the oldest of four children in a Methodist parsonage family in Florida, I was surrounded by God’s love and the community of faith. When I was 13 or 14, I made the decision at Youth Camp to go into full-time Christian service—probably as a missionary.
I resisted becoming a pastor because everyone told me I was going to be one, just like my father. Also, I liked science, and I had questions of faith that seemed to conflict with science.
I had to quit putting off a decision on "What am I going to do with my life?" when I was about to get out of the Air Force. More than anything, I wanted to make a difference, so that, at the end of my life, I would leave my campsite better than I found it.
God’s call came to me as a gentle, persistent tug: Why don’t you try seminary?
My new bride, a lifelong member of OKC-St. Luke’s, supported my decision, and off we went to seminary. There I asked every question with which I had struggled, and I learned to develop my own answers.
By the time I graduated, I could not imagine doing anything else but serving God’s people in Oklahoma and inviting others to Christ.
Along my way, I have been blessed by superb teachers. My mother was the first. After my father died in a car-train collision when I was 15 years old, she told me, "God didn’t take your father. A train going 80 miles an hour in the fog took your father. But God did receive your father."
John Reskovac, my supervisor on internship, taught me, "People don’t care what you know until they know that you care."
My wife, Rosilyn, who is a teacher, helped me with my sermons: I don’t have to tell every possible meaning of Scripture in a 20-point theological "treatise." I should focus the message.
I learned the value of painting word pictures with memorable stories that touch the heart with God’s good news. Kenneth Mason, a farmer in the Panhandle, demonstrated faith and hope when he planted again after losing his entire crop of irrigated wheat to a hailstorm. William I. "Bill" Smith modeled the pastor who is fully graceful to all and, at the same time, a rigorous scholar, constantly pursuing truth.
Many of my best teachers have been the laity in the seven churches I have served over 32 years. Patient and forgiving of my mistakes, they were faithful servants of our Lord long before I showed up. Indeed, I know that I stand on the shoulders of these and a multitude of saints, most of whom I will never know. Whatever I have been able to accomplish in my ministry is due to God’s Holy Spirit working through me and these saints supporting and guiding me.
Now I have been given the privilege of serving pastors and churches in the Bartlesville District. I will seek again to learn lessons in ministry from some new teachers. As in all my previous appointments, I hope to build on the efforts of saints who are my predecessors and, through the grace of God, to leave this new campsite better than I found it.