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"Except Mullins, of Course!"

Lessons on finishing well.

"One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off" (1 Kings 20:11).

In preparation for my church's 70th anniversary, I sat with a charter member who was past 100. She had vivid memories of my 11 predecessors. She told me their accomplishments, summing up each man's history by saying, "We had wonderful pastors — except, Mullins, of course." She punctuated every soliloquy with that line: "except Mullins, of course."

Oddly, it was Mullins (not his real name) who led the greatest growth in the church's history. The church more than doubled in size. He led the construction of the finest sanctuary in the city (air-cooled!), and during his tenure, the church was transformed into a dynamic regional ministry.

Forty years later, our matriarch seemed to have forgotten all that. She recalled how, just before the dedication of the grand Gothic-revival edifice, "his ministry became mired in controversy" and he left. Later, others offered some details involving nightspots and law ...

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