My longtime friend, Steve Wade, who passed away recently, was certainly a unique individual that never minced words. He was the Pastor I served with for four years and a friend of over forty-five years. I never knew him to hesitate giving his opinion, no matter the issue. One of the deacons remarked one day, “You know what I like about Steve? You always know where he stands.” That was certainly true.
Sports was always open season for him. He loved baseball and football and always relished the opportunity after a game to express his critique of the previous game and how the games have changed so much since he played as a kid. He always had a keen grasp of the game that he was watching and an uncanny ability to tell you, especially during a football game, what the next play would be.
He would say, “Well, if even I knew that play was coming, why didn’t the defense know it?” The ultimate armchair quarterback. He even called the on-side opening kickoff once by the Green Bay Packers against the Cowboys before it happened.
Steve would have an opinion on everything and prided himself in his redneck wit and directness. Of course, he loved to watch Duck Dynasty. Uncle Si was his hero – to the point, tell it like it is.
One of my favorite stories about him was when he was in seminary at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Steve loved to study the Bible and he loved the seminary classes. He was older than most of the other students, who came to respect him, and he would find these young preachers following him around and asking him questions and hanging on every word.
The discussion in class this day was around church discipline: should a church practice it, whether or not churches practice it and, if so, how does your church do this. These young seminarians began responding carefully. This is a sensitive subject and they desired to respond Biblically and honestly. One would say, “Our church does not practice this.” Another would say, “We are very careful to counsel anyone who we believe should need church discipline.” They all began tiptoeing through the subject and generally avoiding the question.
Steve had about enough of this meandering and got everyone’s attention. (Now Steve was raised in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas, and if you know “The Grove,” you know that this area is known to be fairly rough.) So, now his “Grove-ite” characteristics rose to the occasion and he said, “At our church, when we find someone that needs church discipline, we just take ‘em out on the parking lot, beat the Hell out of ‘em and beat Jesus into ‘em.”
Yes, he was never one to mince words and never known for his tact. He would say many times, after a retort such as that, “Well, they needed to know and somebody needed to tell ‘em.”
Sometimes being direct and straight to the point is needed. And I look around and see undisciplined youth that never have been told who they are and what is expected of them. I see milk-toast attitudes and wishy washy, nonsensical conversation and I wonder what has happened to the strong determination and confidence in our ideals we once had.