Stephen Hatfield has been the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lewisville 28 years. From deep in the heart of one Texan, he shares his background and thoughts on the church and ministry. To suggest a BGCT-affiliated minister to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.
Where else have you served in ministry, and what were your positions there?
- Pastor, Baring Cross Baptist Church, North Little Rock, Ark.
- Pastor, First Baptist Church, Grandview.
- Pastor, First Baptist Church, Venus.
- Summer youth associate, First Baptist Church, Arlington.
Where did you grow up?
Little Rock, Ark.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
When I was 9, I crossed the line of faith at a revival service where my dad was the visiting evangelist.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
- Ouachita Baptist University, Bachelor of Arts.
- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity and Ph.D.
About ministry life
Why do you feel called into ministry?
I made my commitment to Christ and made my commitment to ministry when I was 9—as best as a 9-year old could do.
What is your favorite aspect of ministry? Why?
Teaching and preaching, though I do not spend enough time preparing. I enjoy bringing passages and applications together.
What did you learn on the job you wish you learned in seminary?
How to handle and balance the expectations of people.
What is the impact of ministry on your family?
My wife Marcie and I have five children—all married—and 15 grandchildren. They all live near us, and three of our kids are active members of our church. The other two are involved in the churches near where they live.
My oldest daughter has served on our ministry staff for years. She began as our student minister and now serves as our young adult minister.
If you could get one “do over” in ministry, what would it be, and why?
I would speak less and listen more.
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Why are you Baptist?
I was born a Baptist; I had no choice. When I was able to understand my heritage, I chose to stay because of several Baptist distinctives, which include my freedom to interpret Scripture as God’s Spirit guides me and the idea I can approach God on my own.
What are the key issues facing Baptists—denominationally and/or congregationally?
The COVID pandemic has changed everything. Baptists must rethink and relaunch ministries and programs to meet the needs of people.
What would you change about the Baptist denomination—state, nation or local?
I would not change anything. We have done our best to be that “rope of sand with strength of steel.” People who call themselves Baptist do so because Baptists champion freedom.
Name something about you that would surprise people who know you.
I am extremely claustrophobic.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
My dad, Lawson Hatfield, was and still is the major influencer in my life. Though he has been in heaven for many years, his memory still guides me. Daddo was a pastor, and for most of his ministry years, he was the Sunday school director for the Arkansas Baptist Convention. His smile was contagious, and his ability to bring people together was amazing. He reminded me even though my name is Hatfield and my heritage was to bear grudges for generations, I did not have to live that way.
Huber Drumwright was the first professor I met when I began my years at seminary. He encouraged me and helped me find a place of service.
I served as Bill Tolar’s grader for many years at Southwestern. The man was a fact machine, a brilliant scholar, simply one of a kind. Over the years, I crossed paths with many former students who remember me as the guy who graded Tolar’s tests.
Other than the Bible, name some of your favorite books or authors, and explain why.
I was introduced to the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien in college. The “Ring” volumes are stories at their best. And if you cannot see the obvious parallels to the battle between good and evil, then I don’t know what else to say.
I read whatever N.T. Wright writes. He always seems to approach a passage from a creative and powerful perspective.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
Ephesians 6:10-18. I love the imagery of Paul comparing our spiritual armor to the armor of a Roman soldier who guarded the apostle.
Who is your favorite person in the Bible, other than Jesus? Why?
Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. He exercised tremendous emotional intelligence as he dealt with all the circumstances of Jesus’ birth and formative years.