Faith & Inspiration
Dr. Tod Tanner - Faith and Politics
A Pastor’s Heart
My name is Tod Tanner and I have the unique pleasure of pastoring Fair Haven Baptist Church here in Shelbyville. Part of my life story is that I was born and adopted in February 1972.
Shortly after I married in 1998, I needed to search for family background information regarding medical history. Upon obtaining information from the adoption agency in Texas, I noticed a question that was asked on multiple occasions. The question was, would you like to have an abortion? While abortion was not legal at the time, it was still prevalent. The answer was handwritten in what seemed to be a lady’s handwriting. Her answer was “no”. While I am not 100% certain that the handwriting was my biological mother, I am thankful for her answer.
I have never met my biological mother and want to fulfill her desire of remaining unknown. If, however, I did meet her, I would simply tell her thank you. The records I received indicated that she was 19 and I was not planned. I am guessing that she was more than a little scared. I am guessing that she was a little embarrassed. But, I am still grateful for her decision to carry me and offer me up for adoption.
Because of my story, I am confident you can determine where I stand regarding the sanctity of life. Many churches across this nation recognized January 20, 2019 as the sanctity of life Sunday. My hope and prayer is that we would not wait until next January to show loving concern and compassion to those who might be in a similar position as my birth mother was.
One of the things that I personally enjoy doing is asking questions. The questions are not simply “yes” or “no” questions. Instead, the questions seek to challenge us and make us think. So, might I present us with a question? If we want to show loving concern and compassion for those who might be confused and scared, how might we as a community actively and consistently do so? I think it is a good question and I hope we can explore practical answers together.
I don’t remember the exact date, but I remember the gym. I was in Chapel Hill, TN at Forrest High school. I had just called a foul on the home team when I heard from the crowd, “And you call yourself a preacher.”
I have been a pastor for 23+ years. I have been a basketball referee for 10. One you have to be called by God to do, the other you have to be a little crazy to do. Both, you have to have thick skin. People ask me all time how do you referee? My answer is always the same, “I make up my mind before I go into the gym that half the gym will hate me every time I blow the whistle.” If you are okay with that, you too can be a high school basketball referee.
Most people never understand the preparation that goes into a sermon. Fans don’t understand the preparation that goes into my basketball season either. I want to be prepared. I want to be in shape to be able to keep up with kids less than half my age. I want to know the rules. I want to know positions and angles. I try to figure out what offense/defense the teams are running so I can know where I should be to get the best views.
1 Timothy 3:2(a) tells me that a pastor should be above reproach (blameless). I am a pastor every day, not just on Sunday, so I must be blameless every day as well. How I conduct myself on and off the court is important because I am a reflection of Christ.
Early in my referee career, I would look at my schedule when it came out and begin to dread certain games and certain coaches based on how they treated me in the past. It would affect my love and joy of refereeing. That changed one day when I was praying on the way to a game I was not excited about going to. I can’t control how people react to me. I can control how I react to others.
I can use the opportunities God has given me. I have built lasting relationships with people I referee with. There is a bond that forms with people you work with. I have been able to pray for and with other referee’s.
When people walk out of church on Sunday afternoon I don’t want people to be saying, “oh what preaching.” I want people to say, “Oh what a Savior.” When people walk out of a gym, I don’t want them saying, “Did you see that referee?” I want the crowd to walk out saying “What a game!” The less I am mentioned, the better I did my job in both situations.
What happened at Chapel Hill you might be asking? The next trip down the floor, I made another call that went in the home teams favor. I heard a familiar voice yell, “Good call!”
Pastor of MHBC