At 87½ years old, West Texas pastor Monroe Teeters retired, this year, from the pastorate—a calling he has pursued and a job he has held for more than 70 years. Though GuideStone considers “normal” retirement age for pastors to be about 65, Teeters says his passion for preaching the gospel and his desire to be faithful to the task until the time of the Lord’s choosing kept him from retiring until this spring.
Over and over he describes his life in the pastorate as a “real joy.”
Shortly after accepting Christ at age 14 in Champion, Teeters felt the Lord’s call to the ministry and began serving as a supply preacher. When he turned 17, Teeters enrolled at Howard Payne University to prepare for ministry. Since then, Teeters has pastored 16 churches, seen thousands come to faith in Christ and watched his son and two grandsons accept calls to ministry.
“It’s been a wonderful journey,” said Teeters, who most recently pastored Salem Baptist Church in Coahoma. “I’ve seen a lot of souls saved, and God’s blessed in a wonderful way.”
Teeters, who grew up on a farm in Roscoe, says he’s had a desire to preach his whole life.
“Even as a boy, I preached to the cotton stalks,” Teeters said. “Preaching was so important to me. I’ve never doubted, one moment, God’s call.”
Now, even though he’s officially retired from the pastorate, he continues to preach just like he began—as pulpit supply.
“I preached last Sunday and have several places lined up,” Teeters said. “I enjoy that supplying very much. It doesn’t have all the responsibility that you have as a pastor, but it’s still the opportunity to tell the story.”
The story is exactly what kept him going into his late 80s, the preacher said.
“It’s been a great joy to me to just tell people that when the storms of life are raging, that God will stand by you,” Teeters said. “That means so much to people. I want to tell them that God will not forget you. That has kept me going.
“I felt like the day would come when the Lord would say it’s enough, and when that day came, I was ready to retire. I want to preach with all my heart, but there comes a time when you just don’t have the strength to drive hundreds of miles to the hospitals and such. There is just as much a burning to preach in my heart today as there was that day years ago when God first said, ‘I want you to preach my gospel.’”
A ministry legacy
Teeter’s grandson, Caleb Teeters, has served on the Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention since 2011.
“There’s not a lot of pastors that go as long as he has, and it’s just a testament to his faithfulness to the calling that God gave him on his life.”
As he’s grown older, Caleb says he’s also begun to realize just how widely loved and respected his granddad is.
“Everywhere he’s gone, you can talk to people who have known him and love him,” Caleb said. “It’s rare that you go anywhere within the state that when they find out who I am, they don’t know who my granddad is, and they love him. You can tell the impact he’s had by talking to the people who have known him.”
It really set in for Caleb just how true this was, he said, when he attended the SBTC convention held in Lubbock a few years ago at which his granddad was slated to pray from the platform. He remembered then president Bob Pearle standing at the microphone before the prayer, talking about how much the convention appreciated Teeters and how admirable his longevity in the pulpit was.
“Granddaddy received a standing ovation from everyone, and it kind of dawned on me at that point the legacy that he had and that his impact was far more reaching than I ever realized,” said Caleb.
In all his years of ministry, Teeters says he’s seen the methods change, but never the message.
“People still want to hear the Word of God,” Teeters said. “The old, old story never changes. No matter how many times you tell it, it’s still precious to the people.”
Drawing from his more than seven decades of life and ministry experience, Teeters offered encouragement and advice to both pastors and churches.
Advice to pastors
“Be sure that God has called you, because it’s not easy,” Teeters said. “There’re joys and sorrows, but always keep your eyes on the Lord. Make preaching one of the main things, and God will bless you and lead you. Don’t let anything discourage you or stop you, but keep going ‘till God says it’s enough.”
Teeters said it’s a given that a pastor will face problems. He is, after all, dealing with people, he said.
“There’ll be opposition, and they’ll not understand you sometimes,” Teeters said. “But there’s plenty of them that do. Where you’ve got one problem, you’ve got a hundred that will love you. Keep your eyes on them. The main thing you need to realize is that God won’t forsake you. Don’t give up. Keep going until he tells you it’s time.”
The pastor also shared his recipe for maintaining vitality and vigor in ministry, urging pastors to take care of their health, keep reading God’s Word and have a time every day to talk with the Lord.
“Just keep your eyes on him,” Teeters said. “He will not forsake us. I can tell you now at 87½ years that he’s never been as sweet and as precious and as real to me as he is today, and I’m just looking forward to the time where I’ll see him face to face.”
Advice to churches
Having served as shepherd for nearly 20 different churches, Teeters offered insight for church members into how they can better support their pastors and be helpful, not hurtful, to the ministry going on within their congregation and community.
“God is on our side. He’ll never leave or forsake us,” Teeters said. “But people don’t realize how much their word of encouragement means. If I could talk to church members, I’d say, ‘Take a little time to tell your pastor you love him and that he’s been a blessing in your life. He needs you, and he needs the Lord.’”
Teeters, who was married to his wife Snowie for 53 years before her death from kidney problems, said there is nothing more important to a pastor than his wife. Together, the couple has a son, a daughter, seven grandchildren and nearly 20 great-grandchildren.