Behind the Song: Pilgrim

My first boss in full-time ministry when I was only 18 years old was a man named Russ Bryant. Russ was in many ways a simple man and at the same time one of the most amazing men I have ever known.

I stumbled into ministry right out of high school because the camp & conference that Russ founded and directed, Monadnock Bible Conference in southern NH, was in a season of transition. Some staff had stepped out and they asked me to be a stopgap in a season of change. And that turned into 8 amazing years of my life.

I remember numerous occasions where Russ would pull me aside and he would just tell me I was doing a good job. While I never made very much money working at camp nearly every year Russ would tell me I was doing well and give me even a $5 raise. His trust fueled my passion for ministry.

A couple of years ago cancer overtook the systems of Russ’s body and he went home to be with Jesus. His funeral was like none I have ever experienced. Russ was not an “on stage” person. He had been a civil engineer before he sold everything he owned to help buy what would be come the camp in the mid-60s. But His legacy of faithfulness was more profound than any I have ever experienced. The number of people who shared that they came to know Jesus because of Russ was a mile long. The testimony of people from Haiti who had their lives saved because of Russ’s heart for the hurting was overwhelming. It went on for hours, and it could have gone on for more.

It was in the time around Russ’s passing that the song “Pilgrim” was penned. The words are a simple reflection on the brevity of life and the importance of living for eternal treasures.

I am but a weary pilgrim
come and light the path I walk.
I am just a passing traveler,
pressing on to know You more.
Lead me on to greener pastures;
be my strength, Lord, when I fall.
Here between my past and heaven,
Spirit, lead me on.

The legacy of faithfulness in Russ’s life is something I will never forget and carry with me to this day. By the world’s standard Russ wasn’t a 5-talent kind of guy, but his investment for the Kingdom was priceless. And when he stood before the Master there is no doubt he heard ,”well done my good and faithful servant.”

It is not the scale of your ministry. It is not the size of your platform. It is not how many Twitter followers you have. It is the labor of faithfulness that the master rewards. And no success will ever be greater than faithfulness.