The Influence of a Consistent Life
In the recent passing of Mr. Doherty, many of us have lost a true friend who sought the very best for us. In my own experience, his interest began over forty years ago when brother Doherty encouraged me to be exercised about the work of the Lord. He planted the seed that resulted in my going into the work of the Lord a few years later. And during all the years since, he always sought to encourage me and watch over my spiritual well-being in every way.
But what he did for me, he also did for many others. I have counted at least six others whose being in the work of the Lord can be directly attributed to brother Doherty’s influence. And I know of at least one other young man to whom he had been speaking in recent years about this work. Besides those directly known to me, I sensed he was in touch with quite a number of others because of passing remarks he made about them from time to time.
Beyond those in the work of the Lord, he willingly gave time to every brother who was interested enough to ask him for help. Beyond even those who attended the large funeral, there are others who could not be there whose lives he had greatly influenced. Because he was not a man to talk much about himself, his effect on the lives of others was likely far greater than we will ever know.
He loved the Word of God and, while he valued the thoughts of others, he would take a step only when he was fully satisfied it was sanctioned by the Scriptures. He often gave years of consideration to a passage until he was clear he understood it. Neither would he be pressed into accepting another’s view until he was convinced it was correct. One of his expressions that I’ve often recalled when pressed to accept another viewpoint is, “Don’t believe it, until you believe it!”
In the study of the Word of God, he demanded accuracy of interpretation. Various times he kindly challenged a perspective I had expressed to him on a passage of Scripture. He would bring to bear other related passages and ask how they fit with my interpretation. If there was even one related passage that did not harmonize with the interpretation, he would gently point out that I hadn’t got the whole picture yet. In a conversation in September of this year, we discussed a passage he had only recently become more settled about after over fifty years of thought.
In this too he was a great personal example, because this same standard he had raised for others he had already set for himself. He always sought to be both a pattern as well as a teacher of what he was fully persuaded was the mind of God. And he was careful lest he should stumble others by inconsistent practice. His goal always was, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
In writing this, I realize that brother Doherty was not one who wanted praise. Hence, the highest tribute we can pay to him would not be putting words on a printed page, but imprinting his godly influence on our hearts and lives.