Dr. George E. “Ted” Barton was a great friend and mentor to me, although I don’t ever remember telling him so. I spoke to him in recent months when he and Margaret called to say they had read some devotions I had written. I wanted to thank him then for all he had done for Kathy and I. However, as usual, I was in the midst of something dreadfully important, and figured I had plenty of time to call him back. In not doing so, I missed doing what was truly dreadfully important.
So, in remembering Dr. Barton (I never could call him “Ted), I want to honor him in the way I heard him encourage others time and again, with an acrostic of his first name:
T = Let the “T” stand for Trustworthy. Dr. Barton kept his word in everything he did and kept your secret words in confidence. He was a great listener because you could always trust that he had your best interests at heart.
E = Let the “E” stand for Educated. He spent a large portion of his life educating others for the work of the ministry. He continued educating himself and others and I for as long as I knew him. Whenever I come across 2 Timothy 2:15, I always think of Dr. Barton for it says, Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Let the “E” also stand for encouraging. Dr. Barton tried to be encouraging in almost everything he did. He was always bragging on other people, hoping to spur them on to good works. Once, when Dr. Barton participated in a birthday celebration for me, he encouraged me greatly when he quoted John 1:6 which says There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. What he never knew was how much I held to that verse from that time on whenever I became discouraged in ministry. For that, I will always be thankful.
D = Let the “D” stand for devoted. Dr. Barton, of course, was devoted first and foremost to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Secondly, he was devoted to faithful wife Margaret, whom he compared with Queen Elizabeth in appearance and treated her as such. He was equally as devoted to his children and grandchildren, loving each of them uniquely. Third, he was devoted to his calling, whether it was in the classroom, the pulpit, or during hospital visitation. I always found it ironic that this true Canadian had found his way to pastor in the midst of a Virginia city filled with United States military personnel. But, Dr. Barton always seemed to make himself right at home, wherever he was at the moment, and he devoted himself to his new home and church.
As I said at the beginning of this tribute, I didn’t take the opportunity to say what I had intended to say to Dr. George E. “Ted” Barton and I regret that deeply. But today, if he could read these words as if they were a letter written personally to him, I’d congratulate him on being a great man of God, a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and one of the most intelligent men I have ever met. And then, I’d thank him for being my friend.