…nor would he want to be thought of that way. I believe that greatness in a man is measured in the greatness of his humility.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
That was David Landrith.
I knew David for a long time…since 8th and 9th grades. We weren’t in school together then, but we were in a great youth group together. We went to rival high schools in our community of Cleveland, TN. He was in school at that time with a girl who would become my wife. Later, David and I along with Jennifer and my girlfriend Kim, would be at the same college, Belmont University in Nashville where he was on the basketball team and I was in the stands yelling like a crazy man and embarrassing everyone I knew. Eventually, after graduating we would go to seminary together at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth Texas. Our first semester there in January of 1987, we roomed together. Both of us were to be married at the end of the semester to our fiancés who were finishing up college at Belmont.
On the wall of our apartment was a big calendar. There were two dates circled on it: May 23 (his wedding date) and June 6 (my wedding date). Each day we would mark off the date with a red marker. It was sometimes a race to see who could be the first one to mark it off. We were living that entire semester in great anticipation of those dates. Everything revolved around getting to those days. I wish today that I still had that calendar. Many days, especially as we got closer to the wedding days, I thought these two single, marriage anticipating, young bucks living in a small apartment might just kill one another! (Well, he likely would have killed me, since he was bigger) We made many a long 12 hour road trip from Ft. Worth TX to Nashville, TN to see our ladies, leaving at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon and rolling in to Nashville at 3am! Then turning around after the weekend and driving back. Love will make you do crazy stuff! The anticipation for that date marked on the calendar was…to say the least…HUGE!
There was a date on God’s calendar this past Tuesday; an appointed time for David Landrith to come Home. David’s life was one that lived in anticipation of that date. He lived in a state of readiness to meet his Savior. I know that David, Jen, their family and all of us who knew him, never thought that date would come this soon…and we would wish that it had been another date on God’s calendar, sometime off in the future. But God…in His sovereignty, had this date circled. And David, I’m sure would say to us (in a very loud voice and with a big smile) “C’mon! You gotta get fired up! If you could see what I see now…Glory!”
The thing about David during all these years since those early days I knew him…as God has used him to do some remarkable things over the years as a pastor and leader…he never changed. He was always goofy, crazy, LOUD, laughing, joyous, caring, serving…but mostly, humble. He didn’t see himself as great. I’m sure those closest to him would say David had his weaknesses…as all of us do…but from the time I first knew David, he never seemed to pursue being great. That wasn’t what he was after. Even as an athlete, he was about the team.
What made David a great husband and a great father and a great pastor, leader, evangelist was not that he was great at anything himself. It was that he recognized with all humility Who it was that was doing it all.
In an interview with Pete Wilson last year, David said, “I don’t really want the imprint I leave to be about me, but Christ in me.”
David Landrith’s view was that if he was used in any way it was because of what Jesus did in and through him, not because of anything great about himself. It was only by God’s grace, through David’s faith in Christ, that God did great things in and through him.
Jesus said in Matthew 23:11-12, The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
I don’t think I ever heard David Landrith exalt himself. He just humbly submitted himself to God and faithfully led his family and the church God entrusted to him and proclaimed the Gospel. He never stopped ministering even in the hospital in the last few days there as he impacted the medical personnel that were treating him.
No, David Landrith wasn’t great. His God is great. He was a great husband, father, leader, pastor…because of a great God who lived in him and was using him for His own glory. David never lost sight of that. He understood his place. David’s pursuit was always God’s glory, never his own. And God honored that and exalted him, blessing his family, as well as the ministries and churches he led. That is the mark of a great man…one who has great humility. David’s greatness was only because he walked humbly before a great God…and he wouldn’t have it any other way. I pray that I might be half as good a pastor as David was…never losing sight of that legacy of humble leadership.
“If I could leave this world and people say, ‘What a knucklehead! What a country bumpkin! He made a difference, but it wasn’t him. It was Christ in him and I’d like to know that Jesus better,’ then that would make me happy.” – David Landrith, December 2013
David, you can be happy, then. Because that’s what we are saying now. And God has said to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Well done!”