Governor Brian Kemp ordered all flags in the state to be flown at half-staff on Friday in honor of our friend and irreplaceable State Senator Jack Hill. Senator Hill died unexpectedly in his office in Reidsville, Georgia on Monday. Funeral services were held on Friday in Reidsville. Many flags around the city are remain at half-staff. Here is Governor Kemp’s executive order:
Senator Hill’s Funeral Service
Dr. Chuck Jonas, Senator Hill’s pastor at Reidsville Baptist Church officiated his funeral. He shared the text of his beautiful sermon which was a well deserved tribute to Jack. I will include it in full here:
I had the honor preaching Jack Hill’s Homegoing Service today. If I am honest, I was a bit overwhelmed. Jack was the longest sitting Georgia State Senator. For 30 years he served District 4.
Below are my thoughts that I shared with the family.
Around Georgia, he was State Senator Jack Hill.
In our little part of the world, he was Jack.
I agree with the opening words of Jack Hill’s obituary:
Monday, April 6, 2020 will be remembered as a sad day for many in the state of Georgia.
For us in this community and for our church family, it was a sad day as well.
On behalf of the citizens of Reidsville, the 4th District of the state of Georgia, and his church family, Thank you Ruth Ann for sharing your husband and Lance, Dawn, and Amy, Thank you for sharing your father with us.
My memories of Jack are seeing him sit on the far left side of the Church with Mrs. Ruth Ann. If he was not in Atlanta, he was in church.
Watching him when it was his turn to serve as an usher at church.
Seeing him smile as Paul Adams drove him in local parades.
The world is in desperate need of a different kind of leadership. We all have seen the negative impact of self-serving leaders in every sector of our society.
Why is that?
Because these leaders have been conditioned to think of leadership only in terms of power and control.
There is a higher choice: to lead at a higher level. When people lead at a higher level, they make the world a better place because in addition to results and relationships, their goals are focused on the greater good.
This requires a special kind of leader: a servant leader.
Robert K Greenleaf coined the term servant leader in an essay titled “The Servant as Leader.”
He has published widely on his concepts for the last twenty years.
But this is not an old concept.
Two thousand years ago, servant leadership was central to the philosophy and ministry of Jesus, who exemplified the fully committed and effective servant leader.
Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela are well-known modern examples of leaders who exemplified this philosophy.
This morning I would add one more name to that list, Jack Hill.
Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan said this about Jack in a statement he issued Monday night,
“Jack Hill was a true statesman, a man of overwhelming integrity, and a servant leader. For three decades, Georgians have benefited from his leadership and his calm and his steady hand at the helm. He exhibited the all the characteristics we hope for in a leader and was a true friend to all. Jack always ensured we were good stewards of taxpayer dollars, but it was more than that, he led with character and clarity.”
Lamar Smith said this about Jack on his Facebook page Tuesday afternoon,
“When he got into politics 30 years ago, I had never contributed to a political campaign. I gave him a $100 check. To me it was a lot of money. To him it probably didn’t mean much, but he acted like it did.
If I was at the Capital, he always made time for me
During the year I served as President of HBAG and traveled throughout the great state of Georgia, I would speak to local Homebuilders Associations from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
When I mentioned that I was from Reidsville, it was always 3 things that people knew about my town
1) Home of the Georgia State Prison
2) Vidalia onions are grown there
3). That’s Jack Hills Hometown
He was a true Statesman. He wielded much power and influence, but you would never know it. He was so humble and kind
Thank you, sir, for your service.”
Governor Brian Kemp said this about Jack Monday night,
“Jack Hill was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I ever served with. His loss is devastating to our state, but he leaves behind an unmatched legacy of hard work and public service.”
There are many people who would say the same things about Jack Hill. He was servant first and a politician second.
The state of Georgia knew him as State Senator Jack Hill, from District 4.
Around here, we knew him simply as Jack.
The first time Jesus defined greatness as service, not the way the world does, is found in Matthew 20.
John and James’s mother had gone to Jesus and essentially asked if, in heaven, one of her sons could sit at His left hand and the other one at His right hand.
She obviously thought leadership was all about hierarchy.
After Jesus told her that her request was not for her to grant, He approached the other ten disciples, who were miffed because this mother had asked Jesus for those places of honor before they did.
In verse 26 the phrase, “is shall not be so among you.” Jumps off the pages of God’s Word!
Because Jesus’s call to servant leadership is clear and unequivocal. His words leave no room for a Plan B.
He placed no restrictions or limitations of time, place, or situation that would all us to exempt ourselves from heeding His command.
For followers of Jesus, servant leadership is not an option: servant leadership is a mandate.
What is interesting about this narrative is that she makes this request just after the Lord has told his disciples that he is going to die for the third time! It is obvious that their misconceptions about the true nature of His kingdom and their desire for an exalted position in that kingdom have blinded them to the importance of what He has just said. It makes them seem calloused and crude by comparison.
THE MISCONCEPTIONS EXPOSED
There are some that think..
a. That greatness is based on position
If this were true then kings, presidents, even dictators would be considered great men for we know that is not the case. Think about history and you will know that most of the so called “great men” have not been great in the way that Jesus defines greatness in our text.
b. That greatness is based on possession
Our culture is so the secular side of things that those who accumulate great wealth are considered to be great. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc…
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “The most acceptable service to God is doing good to man.”
Can you imagine what our world would be like if no one wanted to serve?
All of us know or at least should know the value of servanthood. Think of what our country would be like without the service of those who have fought and died to preserve and defend America. What condition would our economy be in if no one wanted to “be of service?”
What must occur in order for us to be servants?
The Choice for Service
Jack Hill chose to serve his church, country and state.
Two months out of the year, Jack served as an usher at Reidsville Baptist Church. When he wasn’t in Atlanta, he and Mrs. Ruth Ann were in church.
He owned and operated Hill Shopping Center. Even with those responsibilities, he still found time to serve in the Georgia Air National Guard for over 33 years, both as a unit commander and State Inspector General.
He chose to serve when in 1990 he heeded the call to public service and ran for and, won his first term as Georgia State Senator for the 4th District of Georgia.
Like everything worthwhile in life, we must make a choice to serve. It is against our nature so in becoming a servant we go against all of our natural instincts. Even the Lord’s disciples were conflicted about service to others. On one occasion they argued among themselves about “…who would be the greatest in the kingdom…” and earned a rebuke from our Lord.
It is not an easy choice, but it is choice nonetheless to be a servant.
There is a great passage in Exodus 21:2-6
The Character of Service
In John 13 we have two of the greatest examples of the character of true servanthood found anywhere in the Bible apart from the Crucifixion itself.
Let’s focus on just one of the many aspects of this demonstration by our Lord. I’d like to call your attention to the phrase, “…laid aside his garments…” He laid them aside so that he would not be encumbered in washing the disciple’s feet. In so doing he allowed himself to be vulnerable. This outer coat was used for protection from the heat by day and the cold by night. In laying his garments aside he voluntarily exposed himself to pain, suffering, abuse, humiliation and the loss of his rights. If we are to be servants then we must be willing to be vulnerable and become “…partakers of His sufferings…” We need to remember what Jesus told his disciples in this passage:
John 13:16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
SERVICE REQUIRES ACTION
A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get himself out.
A subjective person came along and said, “I feel for you down there.”
An objective person walked by and said, “It’s logical that someone would fall down there.”
A Pharisee said, “Only bad people fall into pits.”
A mathematician calculated how deep the pit was.
A news reporter wanted the exclusive story on the pit.
An IRS agent asked if he was paying taxes on the pit.
A self-pitying person said, “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit.”
A fire-and-brimstone preacher said, “You deserve your pit.”
A Christian Scientist observed, “The pit is just in your mind.”
A psychologist noted, “Your mother and father are to blame for your being in that pit.”
A self-esteem therapist said, “Believe in yourself and you can get out of that pit.”
An optimist said, “Things could be worse.”
A pessimist claimed, “Things will get worse.”
“Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.”
Jack Hill understood this. When he operated Hill’s Grocery, I found him on more than one occasion, stocking shelves.
Many have shared the he was one of the last ones to leave the State Capital office because he cared about the people of Georgia. Service requires action.
The Command of the Servant
A servant is subject to his master! His life is not his own and his aim in life is to please his master. In ancient Rome a master had the power of life and death over a servant. He could be beaten, abused, maimed or killed if his master chose to do so.
Ephesians 6:5 “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;”
Even Jesus was obedient to his Father: Hebrews 5:8 “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
I truly believe that God placed on Jack Hill’s heart the command to serve. He didn’t do it to make a name for himself or to be seen. Some are called to ministry and I believe some are called to politics. Jack Hill was called to serve people.
The Paradox of Service
What is the paradox of servanthood? We find it in the words of Jesus in Matthew 20:26-27 where he says: Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—
The way up is down, the way to live is to die to self, the way to true greatness is to serve!
Who are the names that we honor and respect?
It is those who have served faithfully, fully and finally!
When Jack Hill, a husband, Father, grandfather, uncle, friend, and state senator closed his eyes Monday afternoon, he heard the words we read in Matthew 25:21,
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things,I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”
A large group of European pastors came to one of D. L. Moody’s Northfield Bible Conferences in Massachusetts in the late 1800s. Following the European custom of the time, each guest put his shoes outside his room to be cleaned by the hall servants overnight. But of course, this was America and there were no hall servants. Walking the dormitory halls that night, Moody saw the shoes and determined not to embarrass his brothers. He mentioned the need to some ministerial students who were there but met with only silence or pious excuses.
Moody returned to the dorm, gathered up the shoes, and, alone in his room, the world’s only famous evangelist began to clean and polish the shoes. Only the unexpected arrival of a friend in the midst of the work revealed the secret. When the foreign visitors opened their doors the next morning, their shoes were shined. They never know by whom.
Moody told no one, but his friend told a few people, and during the rest of the conference, different men volunteered to shine the shoes in secret. Perhaps the episode is a vital insight into why God used D. L. Moody as He did. He was a man with a servant’s heart and that was the basis of his true greatness.
I think Jack Hill is the kind of man who would have done the very same thing.
He cared about the people he served, and he leaves a legacy that we would all be encouraged to follow.