My father, Jerry Dean, turns 60 today. I’ve never imagined my dad being in his 60s, but when I look around and see his five grandchildren running and crawling around during the rare, happy moments that we’re all together, I guess it does make sense.
He has been the lead pastor of The Pentecostals of Bossier City for 24 years. He serves on the Global Missions Board of the UPCI. He is the Director of Louisiana Apostolic Man Ministries, and the Vice President of the UPCI’s Apostolic Man Ministries. He has preached on four continents, including the General Conferences of North America and the UK.
In short, my father has smashed the incorrect (and absolutely infuriating) notion that many carry in regards to ministers: that they play golf, sip coffee, and only have to work on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I have watched my dad exhaust himself seven days a week for as long as I’ve lived.
There is a reason he has impacted so many people: his passion is overwhelming.
I have said dozens of times that the highest compliment that I can pay my father is that he is the exact same man in the comforts of his home that he is when standing behind the pulpit. There is no pretension within him. There is no ambiguity in his actions — when he preaches against secularism, materialism, and spiritual complacency, it is because he consistently avoids sin, greed, and lethargy in his private life.
Though he has given the benediction at the installation of a governor, he has never valued the company of those in positions of power or prominence over that of the humble workers of his community. There is no prejudice, no haughtiness, and no cynicism in his dealings with others.
He calls himself “the redneck pastor,” and he genuinely seems most at peace when walking on the land some relatives own in Oklahoma and East Texas, leading his grandsons down trails or snapping pictures of them catching their first fish. His eyes still light up as he recounts the many stories of his childhood in De Leon, Texas, some of which I’ve heard several times, but hope he never stops telling.
I have always respected my dad for his character and commitment, but I must confess there was not always a time that I properly valued it. As a teenager, I thought and said countless hurtful things about our church and religious beliefs. I came to hate the work of God and the demands that the job my father accepted placed upon not only him, but our family. I bristled every time someone said, “You’re the pastor’s son — you should know better!” I’ll skip over the rest of the story, but I found healing at an altar at 18-years-old, and with it regained my admiration for the selflessness that my parents have always displayed.
Today, Jerry Dean is not just my pastor — he’s also my boss. I am privileged to be able to work beside him in our offices, to walk beside him as he minister’s to this community, and pray beside him at the altars of POBC.
I didn’t always understand why my dad sought a higher level of self-sacrifice which seemed above that of so many in his profession, but when I see him praying at the altar for a visitor who is receiving the Holy Ghost for the first time, the alcoholic who has stumbled into our church and is seeking deliverance, or the prodigal who cannot walk another step without pursing redemption, and I see the tears streaming down both their faces as God’s beautiful work is done, then it makes sense.
When I see our church acting on their faith, serving their community, and loving those who desperately need it, then it makes sense.
When I hear the young ministers from all around the country tell me, “You have no idea what your dad reaching out to me meant,” then it makes sense.
When I stand in the midst of a crowded auditorium, and I feel the faith arising in the people around me due to the passionately-delivered words from the “redneck pastor” preaching to them, and I know that the reason it resonates is because the of the genuine nature of his anointing, then it makes sense.
I once made the incredibly painful accusation to my father that he was “pastor first, father second.” Please allow me a few final paragraphs to address my father directly:
Dad, please forgive me for ever uttering those words. I was speaking from a perspective that was limited, and my heart was not in the right place.
Over the years I have come to understand something: your being a good father doesn’t come from the fact that you’re a good pastor. You’re being a good pastor comes from the fact that you’re an incredible father.
Thank you for all the love you pour out — to your wife, your children, your grandchildren, and your son-and-daughter-in-laws. We all love and respect you more than you’re even aware.
Happy 60th Birthday, Dad,
I love you.