Joe Baisden of Belton, Texas passed away after battling cancer. He was 79 years old. For 33 years, he served the Belton Church of Christ as their preacher. His funeral was in Belton on Saturday (August 20, 2016).
I am thankful to have known Joe and Janelle. For 20 years, I served the Crestview Church, maybe 45 minutes from the Belton Church. During those years, I had the privilege of being with Joe on numerous occasions. I listened and watched this fine man as he served the Belton Church.
There is much that ministers who serve churches can learn from Joe Baisden’s life and ministry.
- Joe loved the the congregation he served. Did he ever! He spoke about the people in the church with such love and affection. The Belton congregation was precious to him. He would speak of a sick child, someone who had just lost a spouse, or someone who experienced job loss with care and affection. It was obvious to those who knew him that he loved the church he served.
- Joe loved the community where he served. He deeply cared about the city of Belton. He spoke of the city with great pride and affection. He invested himself in the community and sought to make a positive difference. He didn’t just publicly speak of the city with affection but privately, when he was simply talking one on one.
- Joe had an infectious enthusiasm for life. He was a person of tremendous energy and stamina. He brought energy to most any room. Yet, his focus was not on himself but other people. He loved people. He communicated this love when he preached but he also communicated this love in his relationships.
- Joe felt deeply. When he spoke about a family who was grieving over the death of a family member, he felt that grief deeply. You could see the pain on his face as he described what a particular family was going through with a family member who had experienced a tragedy. When someone was hurt, he hurt deeply. Likewise, when someone was joyful in the Belton church, Joe felt a sense of deep joy for that person.
- Joe enjoyed the ordinary moments of life. Joe might speak of a favorite breakfast place with the same enthusiasm that he would talk about their annual family beach vacation. Some years ago, we were both in Austin for the annual Sermon Seminar (Austin Graduate School of Theology). Joe asked me if I had ever been to a particular place for breakfast. I told him I had not. “What! We have to go there! Tomorrow!” Early the next morning, we met at a little place for breakfast, not far from the University of Texas campus. After we ordered, Joe talked about the qualities of this restaurant that made it one of his favorites in Austin. This occasion was his treat and he wanted me to experience the best this restaurant had to offer.
- Joe was gracious. For years, I watched him interact with young ministers at this annual Sermon Seminar. He would look a young person in the eye, introduce himself, and then listen to the name of the young preacher. So often, during the conversation, he would make a connection. “I knew your preacher!” or “Did your dad go to ACU?” or “I once preached at the church where you grew.” He had a way of putting others at ease and listened with genuine interest.
- Joe looked for the best in people. One one occasion, I met him for lunch. As he talked, he referred to several people in the Belton church. With a genuine affection, he spoke about another minister on staff as well as well as other members of the Belton congregation. He spoke of their extraordinary gifts and personal qualities. I remember thinking at one point, “Wow, that Belton church really has such amazing people!” Yet, this was the way Joe saw these people. He saw the very best in others and highlighted this to others.
Many of us who serve as ministers can learn from Joe. He poured himself into the lives of the people in his congregation and city. He understood that ministry was a calling, not a career. I am glad to have known him.