By Karen Brewer
Dr. Wayne Dickard
When Dr. Wayne Dickard was a child, he and his family were often visited in their Easley, South Carolina home by a local preacher, Rev. Joe Trotter. “We were sharecroppers,” Dickard told this writer, in an interview with The Christian View. “None of us were in church or saved. There were seven children still at home. My oldest brother was in the Army. Preacher Trotter used to come and visit us and talk to my Mom and Dad. When he would start to leave, he would gather us in a circle, and he would pray for us. I remember him doing it so many times. He would say, ‘Come on, boys and girls, hold hands. We’re going to pray.’ He would always stand between Robert and me, the two youngest, and he would put his hands on our heads. So many times, I heard him pray, ‘Lord, I pray that you would save all of these boys and girls, and, Lord, may I one day see these two little boys here preaching the Gospel.’
“The Lord called Robert to preach, and he started pastoring when he was 19. He’s Director of Missions in Chesterfield Baptist Association now.
"I was already teaching school when the Lord called me to preach.
“I remember Preacher Trotter really taking an interest in our family. Because of his love for us and interest in us, we became acquainted with that church, Corinth Baptist Church in Easley, and started attending, and all of us got saved.”
Another pastor who has been a great influence in Dickard’s life has been Dr. George W. Lockaby, whom he considers his father in the ministry. “Dr. Lockaby was the pastor of East Gaffney Baptist Church in Gaffney, and he had a radio ministry,” Dickard said. “It was under his leadership and ministry that I surrendered to the ministry. I was a public school teacher. While I was serving as a volunteer youth director with Dr. Lockaby, the Lord called me to preach, and I resigned my teaching job. My wife was a teacher, as well. We resigned our jobs and went to seminary at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I had completed my Master’s in education, so I was set for what I thought I was going to be doing for the rest of my life, but then the Lord began to deal with me about preaching, and I surrendered to preach.”
The Lord has blessed Dickard’s life in so many ways, he said. “I was not one who grew up with a ‘silver spoon’ in my mouth,” he said. “I came from the poor side of town. The Lord gave me, first of all, great parents who developed in me a work ethic. He saved me when I was 14 and then gave me a desire to learn. No one in my family had ever graduated from college. I’m the youngest of eight. Only two of us had graduated from high school. My other brother has gone back, after me, and graduated from college and got graduate degrees. When the Lord saved me, He put a desire in my heart to learn.
“Then, after He saved me and I started growing in Him, He gave me a wonderful wife. We were young. I was 20 when we got married. We’ve been married 37 years. She’s my best friend, and she’s my right arm in the ministry. I couldn’t do what I do without her.
“He’s given us two wonderful sons. Stephen is 23 and serves in the military. He just got back from Afghanistan. He earned a Purple Heart. He was injured, but God protected his life in some really tough situations. His wife is in the Air Force. They’re both in Colorado Springs, and they have one daughter, my granddaughter, Kylie, who is one year old. My youngest son, Daniel, is 20 and is the youth minister at First Baptist Church, Landrum. My wife, Anita, teaches at James F. Byrnes High School. So, God saved me and gave me a wonderful family.”
Dickard served as Pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Boiling Springs, South Carolina from 2002 until becoming Pastor of Siloam Baptist Church in Easley.
What he enjoys most about being a pastor is ministering to his congregation. “Preaching is my first love,” he said. “I love preaching. I know a lot of people probably do it better, but nobody enjoys it more. I love preaching. I love studying and preparing. I just enjoy preaching. But I love people and have had a good rapport with the people in the pews. It’s a wonderful fellowship. I enjoy seeing people grow in the Lord. I enjoy seeing people saved. I did my doctoral work in church growth, and I wrote my dissertation on growing a traditional church in a changing world. It’s been exciting to see people saved and then grow in the Lord and commit their life and devote their life to service. It’s my understanding that’s what the Gospel is about.”
A few years ago, Dickard and Northbrook’s then Minister of Music, Dr. Joe Hopkins, discussed the need for the Upstate of South Carolina to hold an evangelism conference. Northbrook began hosting the Upstate Evangelism Conference in 2006, when it was modeled after the Coastal Evangelism Conference (held at Langston Baptist Church in Conway and begun by Dr. Randall Jones). Hopkins is now Dean of the School of the Arts at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, but continues to assist with the Upstate Evangelism Conference, now held at Siloam Baptist Church.
“He and I were driving down to the Coastal Evangelism Conference,” Dickard recalled, “and we said that we need this kind of event in the Upstate. We don’t have anything like this. They used to have one at Forestville Baptist Church in Greenville, but Marshall Fagg left there and went to work for the State Convention. We were talking about the need for such a conference in the Upstate, and, out of that, the Lord began to encourage us and impress upon us that we needed to start a conference like this. So, the next year, we said let’s try it. We patterned it after the Coastal Evangelism Conference. We had it all day long, with a morning session, afternoon session, and evening session, but, since two years ago, we’ve had it just at night. It has been phenomenal, the growth in the conference each year." (Any pastors and churches who wish to join others in assisting with the financial costs of next year's conference may contact Dr. Dickard.)
Dickard encourages young preachers to stay in God’s Word. “We go through all kinds of cycles,” he said. “I believe that expositional preaching is still the standard that people want and need. I know some people are given the gift of storytelling, but I would encourage young preachers to take people to the Word. They grow when there’s a healthy expositional diet of the Word. I believe that out of that grows a healthy church. A lot of young men who served under me through the years are pastoring now, and I’ve always told them, ‘Stay in the Word. That’s the best thing you can do for your people -- keep them in the Word.’ ”
His favorite verses of scripture from the Word of God are Proverbs 3:5-6: “I claim that as my testimony or life’s verse: ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.’ "
Other than Christ, the person he most admires in Scripture is Nehemiah. “I look at his leadership skills,” he said. “I think I probably identify with him more than anybody else in the Old Testament. Nehemiah, I think, was a great leader.”
Dickard welcomed advice from many people when he was beginning his ministry, including seminary professors. “I took everything that Dr. Delos Miles offered,” he said. “He was Chair of Evangelism at Southeastern. I appreciated the evangelistic push and the heartbeat of Dr. Miles. He was a special professor.
“Dr. Lockaby, though, was always telling me, ‘Develop the Word. Develop the Word.’ He would always buy me books. If I would preach for him, he would never give me an honorarium. He would give me books. He put me in touch with some good authors, and that has helped me greatly through the years. I guess every preacher has certain people to read after, and I do. And I try to do that same thing with young preachers -- put them in touch with some good authors that you can trust and read after; that’s going to be beneficial to you as you develop those sermons and research that text.”
Dickard advises all Christians to follow what Jesus called the two greatest commandments. “The greatest commandment,” he said, “is to love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, soul, and mind. I believe that, when we meet Him, when we come to know Him, to know Him is to love Him. Then, we devote our lives to service. Love the Lord. And then I would say also to love people. There is nothing that you can do for the Lord that doesn’t in some way deal with helping people. The Lord called us to serve Him by serving others. I think that a lot of times we lose sight of that. There’s a song out that I heard not long ago that says, ‘God loves people more than anything.’ And certainly He does. He died for us. I think the best thing we can do is love the Lord and, as we love the Lord, love people and tell those people about Him.”
When asked how he would like to be remembered, Dickard answered, “As someone who was a servant, who served the Lord and preached the Word.”
His message to anyone who is not saved? “Give your heart to Jesus. He can do for you and will do for you more than anything or anyone in the world.”