What The Mayor Of Brantley Taught Me About Being A Pastor

My dad served as mayor of Brantley, Alabama, for sixteen years. He was first elected when I was twelve and finally retired from the job sixteen years later.

He taught me tremendous lessons, most by what he did rather than what he taught. During his last election campaign (he declined to run for a fifth time) I was home and riding with him down Main Street. I asked him if he thought he would win the campaign. He assured me he would. His answer intrigued me. How do you know you’re going to win something as volatile as a small town political campaign?

When I asked him how he knew, he answered in this way. He said, “I have won every election with a 56-58% majority. The same 56% are going to vote for me and the same 44% are going to vote against me.”

Over the years I have thought about that conversation and how serving as pastor of a church is so much like serving as mayor of a small town.

First, I learned that not everyone is going to think you are great. In fact, anytime I have gotten more than 56% of a vote, I have thought I did pretty good!

In case you don’t know, almost all pastors want people to think well of them. To be a pastor is to like people and to want people to appreciate what you do.

Unfortunately, people are not always going to appreciate what you do. People in the church have opinions and ideas just as the pastor does. My dad helped me to understand this truth.

Second, he showed me that you lead the best you know how in spite of what people think. That’s what my dad did. He respected the people who didn’t vote for him and did the best for the community. It’s normal to want people to agree with you; it’s good leadership to do what is right and good even when people don’t agree.

There’s a famous saying that has to do with success. It goes something like this: “I don’t know the secret of success, but I do know what causes failure–it’s trying to please everybody.”

Third, my dad taught me the importance of not giving up.  My dad was characterized by drive and tenacity. He had a tremendous desire to accomplish and to get things done. He worked hard for his family and for his community.

Finally, my father showed me the importance of doing the right thing because it is the right thing. 

Life is difficult. We get pulled and pushed in many different ways. Life works best when we seek to follow God’s direction.

I thank God for my father. He blessed my life.

I write a post like this daily. If you would like to receive an email notification each day, you can sign up at the top of the page. It’s simple to do and completely free.



Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

13 Responses

  1. You were blessed to have an earthly father who guided you and taught you well. We , in turn, are blessed at FBC, Covington to have you to guide us to be more like our Savior. I thank God every day for sending yu and Martha to our church.

  2. Seems our Dad’s had much in common regarding both their work ethic and their desire to do what is best for their community. It is my prayer and action to emulate the life lessons of Honoring God in all that I do. Certainly, it is true, everyone will not agree with either ones actions or motive regardless of the best intentions.
    In the news for the Air Force and before committee this week are sexual harassment issues. A statement was made that reminded me of a statement Jesus made. It is a statement that defines the perspective of the one who makes it. I am going to quote the General here, “Either you are going to be part of the problem or a part of the solution. There is no middle ground.” It is a call as to why we are to be “Like Minded” in Christ Jesus.

    I am reminded how we accept partisanship, bigotry, unjust acts as just matters of fact to be addressed by just getting past and moving on. I am reminded of a story a Veteran USAF officer shared about unjustly being fined by someone from a different branch of service. He considered the source and just worked through it to get on with his life. This is the common approach and after a while, we who have taken this approach, will have the gaul to wonder aloud how it is that we came to be in the situation we find ourselves, either individually or corporately. Then, we have the audacity to consider the one who points out injustice as a grumbler or trouble maker, upsetting the “harmony.”

    Maintaining status quo (not loosing ground) is hard work. Moving toward God’s Best is Divine Work. Its road is paved by the blood of the Saints. Romans 12:5 describes the paradigm of success in the Lord’s prayer as well as John Chapter 17’s recorded prayer of our Christ being answered. We see glimpses, it is an ideal worth pursuing, isn’t it?



  3. And I thank God for you Waylon Bailey. Valuable lessons are learned in life and shared. Thank you, you are appreciated.

  4. Waylon: Our Heavenly Father has given you a wonderful gift of insight. You messages, your preachings and teachings are a blessing! Just AWESOME

    1. Thanks Doug. I appreciate your reading and commenting. We all need what God can give and what God can do. We too often–myself at the forefront–do what seems right to a man. We know how that ends.

  5. Having just recently lost my father to his home in heaven your words mean a lot to me. The best e-mail I recieved after Dad’s death was “he lived to serve God and people around the world..he did it his way which was as close to God’s way as he could.” thanks Waylon for your friendship and encouragement daily.

  6. A verse I strive to life by and for about 2 years I had it posted on a sign as we went outside the door to our home. I’ve taught my boys because I want them to become men who live this verse: “Do what is right and good in the Lord’s eyes and it will go well with you..,,.” Deut 6:18

    1. What a great thing to do for your boys. Your vision for them will help develop them for life. The background for Deut 6:4-9 is what you are doing for your children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *