FRANKLIN — Mike Puckett, the associate pastor and education director at Grassland Heights Baptist Church, Franklin, could be called the Swiss Army knife of ministry.
For the past three-plus decades, Puckett has happily and gratefully served the Lord in all kinds of ways — ranging from student ministry to worship leader to administrative work and all in between — at Grassland Heights.
“The call of God on my life, my love for the church and a desire to see the church function effectively is what has kept me coming back,” said Puckett, who was recently honored by the church on his 35th anniversary. “If you can be called to a church, I think that is the case in my life. God called my wife and me to GHBC because this is where he wanted me and my family.”
Puckett’s ministry journey with GHBC started in 1988, when he was called as bivocational youth minister. In the years since, he has also served as worship leader, filled the pulpit on many occasions and performed many other roles.
He said his favorite part about ministry — regardless of what position he is serving — is helping others form a relationship with Jesus.
“The biggest joy that anyone has in ministry is seeing someone come to the Lord and then grow in the Lord,” Puckett said. “I have had the privilege of baptizing a few students and we have had several students go on to be in church ministry or become missionaries.
“It is a joy to walk beside families as they lead their children to know the Lord and serve him,” Puckett added. “Witnessing God work through His church and do things that only He could do brings joy, fulfillment and a sense that God is using you where you are.”
Puckett and his wife, Carol, have been a constant presence at Grassland Heights since he first joined the church staff in 1988.
Together, Mike and Carol have modeled dependability and consistency, even when the church has experienced difficult days.
“Carol and I are a ministry team, and I am grateful that God blessed me with her as a partner in ministry,” Puckett said.
“She has been right there, supporting and encouraging me,” Puckett said of his wife.
After graduating from Union University with a business degree and Religious Studies minor, Puckett went to work for the Baptist Sunday School Board (now Lifeway) in 1981. Seven years later, he was asked by a coworker if he would lead a youth VBS at Grassland Heights. The VBS was successful, ultimately leading to his call to be the church’s bivocational youth minister.
Thirty-five years later, he continues “standing at the ready.”
“He has always put his whole heart into his job because he truly is a worker for our Lord,” said Sherry Thompson, GHBC church receptionist. “His dedication and passion to serve the Lord — wherever and however he is needed — is a rarity today.”
Thompson noted that Puckett’s favorite verse is Micah 6:8: “To act justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Puckett, who retired from Lifeway in October 2013 after 32-plus years, has embraced his Jack-of-All-Trades role at GHBC.
“He has worn just about every hat in the church,” said long-time GHBC member Susan Dalton. “He’s done it all — anytime that he was needed. It’s been quite a journey for him and his family, considering all the challenges the church has faced in the last 35 years.”
After being called as youth minister in 1988, Puckett stepped out of student ministry when his oldest son moved into the youth group. “I thought it was important for him to have someone besides his dad to talk to about issues he would face as a teenager,” said Puckett.
At that point, Puckett shifted to an educational role on the GHBC staff.
Years later, after the church experienced a leadership split in the late 1990’s, Puckett was asked to lead worship.
He has since filled that same role on other occassions when the church was without a full-time worship leader. “I don’t read music,” he said, “so when I was leading, it was only by the grace of God and gifted musicians around me that I was able to do that.”
Puckett said there have been some hard days during his ministry, particulary during the church split.
“That was a difficult time for our family in that many of my kids’ friends and their families left our church,” Puckett said. “God called us to stay, and He used us to help hold things together until new leadership was found.”
That time period wasn’t the only emotionally draining part of Puckett’s journey.
“There were other times when our pastor would need a confidant or mediator for an issue with a member — and we served that role several times,” he said. “God was faithful to get us through that, but I have to admit that those times were difficult and painful. God is faithful and walked with us through those times.”
Puckett said the opportunity to serve the Lord is always worth the effort and hours, even when things seem challenging. “There were several times when, as a family, we talked about whether we should stay or go,” he said. “The answer was always to stay. It was not always the easy answer, but I think it was the right answer.”
Puckett said he was honored by the recognition he received for his 35th anniversary at the church, but he was quick to redirect any praise that came his way. “Our ministry is not about me or Carol but about God,” he said.
Puckett recently began teaching a Bible study at GHBC on the book of Philippians. Coincidentally, it includes one of his favorite passages.
“If I could say anything about my 35 years, I would want it to include Philippians 1:6,” he said, referring to a verse that reads: “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
A good work that has, in this case, included many hats. B&R