June 15th, 2010

Pastors really shouldn’t have favorites among the church employees, but I do have to admit I have one.

In our continuing series of honoring staff members who have been working at the church ten years or more, we come this week to the employee I’ve known the longest.

In 1997, Rob Fisher had resigned after four years of ministry here to move to a senior pastorate in Pennsylvania.  Rob had been the only full-time pastoral/program staff member during my first four years here, with responsibilities in worship, visitation, education, youth, children, and more.  When he left, we decided we needed to split up those responsibilities.

Rather than moving too quickly, we decided to hire some interim staff members while we continued in our discernment process.  The logical choice for Christian education was my wife, Linda, who had a bachelor’s degree in biblical education and fifteen years of experience working in churches.

It was soon fairly obvious, however, that this should not be an “interim” position for Linda.  She managed all aspects of the program well, and our CE ministries began to grow.  So a year later, “interim” was dropped from her title, and she’s been working for you ever since. 

The program grew, in fact, to the point that “part-time” no longer described Linda’s role.  She’s always worked more hours than what we pay her for, extremely conscientious about giving herself fully to her calling.  A couple of years ago, we finally restructured the staff responsibilities to free Linda for focus on adult ministries.  (I like to call her the Director of Adult Ministries, but she doesn’t like the acronym, so we go with Adult Ministries Director.)

I worried a bit early on about combining the roles of husband and boss, but it’s worked really well because of Linda.  She gives more than her all, takes initiative, needs little supervision or direction, gets along great with colleagues and lay leaders, and so much more on a professional level.  The growth and quality of the ministries she supervises are the greatest testimony to her professional effectiveness.  

There are also the intangibles you can’t put into a job description. Her family and church members have written about these in some comments you can read on the church’s web site – http://www.corinthtoday.org/10years.html.  She is a mentor, a friend, a patient listener.  Her love for Christ, focus on prayer, humility, and selfless service are among the qualities others see in her.

Pastor Bill said it best:  “Pastor Bob Thompson married way out of his league.”

Comments from others –


Sharon Rowe: 


Linda and I became friends by phone before she moved to Hickory. I knew after talking to her that we would become great buddies!!! She is a mentor to me and a blessing in many ways. I admire her honesty and her walk with Christ is a wonderful example for everyone. She is always willing to help with anything that needs to be done at church. I know she will go the extra mile to help me in any circumstance!!! She is a good listener, patient , kind and sweet. I consider it a true honor to call her my dear friend. God blessed me and many others when He sent Linda to Hickory!!!


Laura Parker:


 I have never met a more genuine, kind, caring lady in my life. If the eyes are the window to the soul, Linda’s reveal a heart that reflects a Father’s love, whether it was modeled for her in this life or not. She has the ability to “speak volumes” with her eyes. I have seen her eyes send gentle “hugs” across a classroom and fire off “godly reproach” across a sanctuary…now THAT’s talent!!! 


She does not try to pretend that everything is well when it isn’t; she can be vulnerable, self-revealing, and painfully honest. Even when she is struggling, she is willing to put someone else’s needs before her own when they need a sympathetic ear.


Few women can carry the role of “pastor’s wife” and all that entails and remain upbeat, yet Linda appears to relish the opportunity to continue to serve when the average female would complain and say, “Enough!” She is a role model and a mentor and I am thankful and blessed to call her my friend.


Brad Olson: 


I have always enjoyed working with Linda as a board member and Co partner teaching Sunday School . As I reflect on the last 3 to 4 years several  thoughts come to mind:


1. Prayer is front and center with everything she does. This has had a tremendous impact on my approach with my leadership roles at Corinth and my relationship with Jesus Christ!  

2. Her positive “can do” attitude. When you count on volunteers to organize & pull through most activities you’re going to be disappointed every so often. Linda manages that well.

3. Leadership – Specifically, flexibility and understanding. Again, when you count on volunteers to make things happen you’re going to be frustrated every once in a while. Linda manages that well.


Jan Ketcham:


It is such a joy working with Linda!  She is a beautiful “Ray of Sunshine” with only kind words for everyone.  Linda is always willing to help! I feel blessed to be able to work in the same office with Linda!!!!


Philip Thompson:


My mom is a model of selflessness.  When you speak to her, it is clear she is focused on you alone, and her joy or empathy – whatever the conversation merits – is entirely genuine.  Time and money are wonderful things to give to a church, but my mom gives more.  She gives her self – her full attention, her compassion, and her energy.  Corinth’s family and my family are so fortunate to have her.  I love you mom!


Melissa Shuford:


She is a very gracious lady and is so very consistent in her demeanor…Always uplifting others!


Joe Lippard:

One of the most kind, and gentle spirited people I have ever known.  I have never seen her angry with anyone or heard her speak a harsh word.

I know that she works far more many hours that she is compensated for and is completely devoted to serving the Lord, and supporting your ministry.

She prays the most beautiful prayers of anyone I have heard.  She really is the “Mother” of this church.

Bill Howell:


Where to begin? Linda brings to the staff a passion and love for Christ and our ministry that lifts my spirits any time I am around her. Her laugh is sincere and infectious. Certainly Bob Thompson married way out of his league. We all love Linda.


Lauren Everley:

What can I say–I adore your wife!!   As for working with Linda, I love being around her. She has such positive calming energy about her even when I know she is beyond busy! She also happens to be one of the best listeners I have ever met-she makes you feel like you are the only person in the room. It is a skill that I continually work on and I’m thankful to work with someone with such tremendous qualities. Love her!!


Rachel Gee:


She is my special friend that I am so, so blessed to have in my life. She listens and cares about me. I love the way I can share things with her, knowing those conversations are “just us” conversations! Having her in my life has made a difference! Love her so much!


Betty McGee:


Linda is a rare treasure.  She is genuine, caring, true to herself and others, has charm and a wonderful softness in her behavior.  She is a great organizer and leader.  Truly a woman of God and strong in her faith. She walks the talk.   All who know her, has no doubt that she is a friend you can depend on and we all feel very blessed to have her in our lives.


Jennifer Collins:


When I have doubts about myself or question actions I have taken, Linda is the person I call.  I have no sisters, and my mother passed away nearly 11 years ago.  So when I need an honest reflection of myself, a truthful (whether good or bad) assessment of my actions or words, Linda is the person I call on.   I believe God has planted her here to be an example, a mentor, and an encourager for the women of Corinth and of Hickory.


Danielle Cummings:


Linda and I share a unique common bond in being pastor’s wives.  We often laugh at the stories told on us… Bob usually “runs” it by Linda first, whereas I never really know what Paul is going to share..ha!  I am so thankful for Linda for so many reasons…   she is my mentor, my confidant, and my very good friend.  Linda has been such a source of support and encouragement to me over the years.  She has a sincere desire to see people come to know the Lord and grow in their relationship with Him and I believe it is that desire that drives her ministry.  Linda is a true prayer warrior… I always know that when she says that she will be praying for me or for the church that I can count on that.  It is hard to capture what Linda means to me in a few short sentences, I feel incredibly blessed to have her in my life and to count her as my treasured friend.  Congratulations on 10 years at Corinth Linda…  what would we do without you???

Love you, Danielle.


Rachel Hammer:


Linda is one of the people who first welcomed me to Corinth and kind of took me under her wing as I was very insecure and felt very out of place attending a church by myself where I didn’t know anyone – and coming from a very sinful lifestyle. She never made me feel unworthy. She completely accepted me, enlightened me, listened to me, comforted me, introduced me to others, encouraged me to meet Cara who is very dear to me and though I only see her on occasion I feel very close to.  Linda has always shown concern towards me and always seems excited to see me. She is an incredible woman and you are blessed to have her! 🙂 Actually you are both blessed to have each other.


Mary Barnhart:


She’s my friend, my mentor, my inspiration to what a true Christian should be.  She’s the Best!!


Cara Thompson:


Seeing my Mom in ministry is a clear picture of someone committed to submitting to the Lord’s call on their life.  I have had the joy and privilege of living under her model of a servant’s heart; one that truly delights in loving others as an extension of our Lord’s love.


Jeannie  Gee:


Linda is such a wonderful Christian, leader and friend.  The most important  thing I can say about Linda is she meets everyone ” where they are”.  And by that I mean she isn’t judgmental and doesn’t make anyone feel inferior.  She ALWAYS has a welcoming hug for everyone.  She has a tremendous love for the Lord and  demonstrates that in everything she does and the way she lives her life.  I have been a Bible study leader under her for several years and consistently hear from the groups how comfortable they feel with her.  She has shared and is still sharing my problems with me as well and I know she prays daily for all of us (don’t know when she finds time to sleep!!!).  I truly consider her a friend, counselor and most of all my sister in Christ.   


Bess Fuller:


Of course Linda brings a heart for Christ to everything she does.  She also brings a quiet dignity as well as a sense of humor and it’s a pretty amazing combination.  Her genuine concern for the human condition is always evident.  Being the wife of a high profile, successful pastor cannot always  be easy (no offense!), but it is clearly a role for which she is well suited. You guys have a good thing going and it is obvious that she is devoted to you (and you to her!).  Your  partnership makes us a better church. Thank you Linda, for being willing to be a part of the success of Corinth!


Peter Corneliussen:


Linda – You are such a spirit filled, spirit driven servant of the Lord.  You have a seemingly  inexhaustible thirst for seeking to reveal, teach and learn from the Bible;  helping to provide others with the  opportunity to learn and grow in the understanding of God’s grace and goodness.  Your passion for Christian education is evident in everything you do.  Congratulations on your 10+ years in your position at Corinth. You and Bob make a marvelous team serving on the path you both walk by the grace, love and light of Jesus Christ. 


Lorrie Eaton:


Linda has such a sweet and humble spirit, and I know she would probably feel humbled  to hear that she serves as a role model for me as well as many women here at Corinth.   Her grace and relationship with Christ in all the areas of her life is such an inspiration.  Meanwhile, she so quietly and effectively serves her role as an employee of the church, supervising the education of so many, that often people are unaware of all the hard work that goes into that aspect of her service.  Thanks for being you, Linda!


Jenica Thompson:


My mom is such a loving, Christ-like woman who is dedicated to serving Christ and the people around her. I have never met a more thoughtful or humble person. She does so much for the church and doesn’t ever want credit. She is such an example to me of how to spread God’s love to those around  me.


Board of Adult Ministries – 2010 evaluation summary:


The unanimous feedback from the BAM Team is that Linda does a wonderful job supporting each individual ministry area. She is a tremendous encourager who creates and maintains a high level of energy and enthusiasm for each ministry area. In addition, she provides great direction, shares suggestions and has good problem solving skills. 


Linda is a “model” Servant Leader. Someone that sets a great example for all of us.  She is Christ centered and incorporates prayer into every aspect of her church leadership.

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