I am thankful for the many godly men who have influenced my life as pastors and mentors. My favorite preacher, however, is a man the Lord used to shape my own personal life and ministry. His name is Dr. Virgil Lovett. He is not well known outside of his local sphere of influence, but he is greatly loved and respected in Central Florida and South Georgia.
Dr. Lovett served as the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Apopka, Florida for over 35 years. I had the rich privilege of serving on his ministry staff for 12 years during my college and seminary days. He gave me multiple opportunities to learn the craft of preaching and allowed me to preach on most Sunday evenings for many years. He gave me responsibilities to speak at weddings and funerals – always encouraging me to sharpen the skills of public speaking integrated with clear Bible teaching.
His love for God’s Word was contagious. We often spent hours discussing passages of Scripture and shaping outlines for sermons. He challenged me to always be true to the text and to have a firm grasp of the issues related to the context of a passage. He was my greatest fan and my most severe critic. Dr. Lovett was a man who preached with passion and expected that from others. He was an encourager and a teacher.
Ultimately, what made Dr. Lovett my favorite preacher was simply that he was real. He preached God’s Word with a fearless conviction and he lived what he preached.
There was always a spirit of awe and anticipation when he approached a biblical passage. He knew how to connect the truth with where people live in a relevant and practical way. Most of all, he understood that the hero of the Bible is Jesus and he made much of Him.