On Dying Well – A PCA Pastor’s Example

cemetary2On April 7, 2015, PCA Teaching Elder Rick Lindsay went to be with the Lord at age 60 after an extended duel against advanced stage melanoma. In honor of his life and years of service his session wrote a moving article, stating towards the end that:

Rick served his Lord and Savior faithfully to the very end, being a witness to God’s faithfulness and love to all around him.  Rick was a teacher through and through, and even continued to teach throughout his illness, both in Sunday school and from the pulpit, even when he knew that if he preached, he would be too weak to do anything else the rest of the day. More importantly, Rick taught us by example in his everyday life, demonstrating that no matter your circumstances here on earth, God’s people are to be faithful to Him, and are to proclaim His goodness and love until He calls His people home.  Rick did that, and did it well.

 As stated so well by his session, Pastor Lindsay not only lived well, but also faced the end of his life well. While the session’s words are well-put, Rick’s final letter to his presbytery detailing the return of his cancer displays his attitude even better. It is worth the read:

To Churches and Brothers of Fellowship Presbytery,

By the time you receive this I will have had opportunity to inform my congregation, so now I can inform you.

My cancer has returned and it seems that God’s plan may be that I will not be serving with you for a long time. I do want to first say to those who in the past few weeks have ask directly how I am doing that my response “I an feeling fine” was indeed the truth. I do not feel ill even as I write this. I could not go into the whole truth until I was able to inform my mother and children and then my congregation. That has now been done so I can freely talk about it.

Here is the quick story. I had a biopsy on a suspicious site done right before Christmas and got the results of melanoma’s return on December 29. A PET scan was done this past Monday and last Tuesday we met with the oncologist. The news was not good in that the cancer was present and growing. The good news is that it is not yet in any organ. Surgery at this time will not help. I will meet with a team of oncologist this Tuesday to discuss what possible treatments that might help to slow the progression. Medically there is nothing to stop it. Even what is out there is questionable as to how it will work. Each individual they treat may react differently. Without any treatment the doctors say that my time will be measured in a few months.

I ask for your prayers. God is going to heal me one way or the other and I am comforted by that great truth. My greater concern is for my wife and children and my congregation. Please pray God’s grace and comfort for them. I have the easy task, they have the hard one.

It has been and continues to be a privilege and blessing to serve with you in God’s kingdom. Only He know how long He will allow me service here. May His will be done. Thank you for your support.

In our blessed Savior,

Rick Lindsay

“I have the easy task, they have the hard one.” Few words uttered have been more noble than those.

Rick continued to serve faithfully as pastor until his death, all through that time exhorting his congregation in how to proceed after his passing and counselling them on how to continue in their service to Christ.

In was in this light that he delivered what he considered his closing sermon, titled ‘In Conclusion’. His message centered on whether the church would continue the mission of Christ in spite of the changing times (from John 21):

“Love to God is an action response, it’s not an emotional response. Our actions will speak more about our love for God than anything else… If I’m no longer your pastor here and it’s not what you want, then at that particular time your love for God was not real; if you’re here because of me it’s not because of the love for God. That’s a problem, that’s a major issue within your own soul.

If I’m not here next Sunday, God is. Don’t forget that. You come here not because of a preacher, you come here because of God and what Christ has done in your life. That’s what we’re here to do, that’s our call… So next Sunday we outta be just as full as we are today. With that let’s pray.”

This is a shining example of how a pastor departs from a church well, and of how any Christian faces their death with dignity. He realized that as a leader it was not about him, but about Christ and his glory.


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