The “Lone Ranger Pastor.” That’s what many pastors in the D.C. area called me for years (although I only learned about this recently!).

They had good reason to do this. For 35 years, our mission at McLean Bible Church has been to get the gospel message to every person in the D.C. area. However, I was determined to do it alone. One church, by itself, trying to achieve such a goal. I know it sounds crazy, but that was my plan.

The goal was Christ-honoring, but my motives were not. There was much arrogance, self-promotion and selfish pride in my heart. It was subtle — as these sins always are — and I was able to justify them for years.

The Holy Spirit began to deal with me in 2014. I was 65 years old and had been the pastor at McLean Bible for 34 years. But, as I learned, no born-again child of God is ever above God’s chastening hand (Hebrews 12:5-8).

So the Lord — as we used to say in the South — “took me to the woodshed.” The Spirit humbled me and convinced me of my deep sins against his Church and my fellow Christ-loving pastors and church leaders by being such an instrument of division. As I repented, it became clear what God wanted me to do.

So I asked groups of pastors — from every racial, ethnic and denominational group in the area — to meet with me. Some were skeptical, but many came. My agenda was simple: confess my sins of arrogance, self-sufficiency, pride, divisiveness and non-cooperation and ask for their forgiveness.

And then, I asked if, by God’s grace, we could begin a new day in Washington — where we might show our true brotherhood and unity in Jesus to a world that was full of seeing the opposite. Our relationships often exist in silos within racial, ethnic and denominational lines. This effort would form a vital connection across all those lines. Thus began the Metro Washington Pastors Fellowship.

We meet for prayer every quarter, do community service projects together, hold the annual Washington Prayer Gathering (WashingtonPrayerGathering.org), and spend personal time together. The fellowship is in its infancy, and we have far to go. But at least, thank the Lord, we’ve started! And I’m grateful to be a part of it.

I’m grateful for the forgiveness of my brothers and sisters in the Lord after I had sinned against them for so long. I’m grateful that they granted me a second chance. And I’m grateful to Jesus for his discipline and mercy in allowing an old man like me to repent, and to try to finally get it right for his glory (Psalm 32:5).

This article originally appeared in Evangelicals magazine.

Lon Solomon
Lon Solomon is senior pastor at McLean Bible Church, which has 13,000 members in five campuses in the Washington, D.C., area. He serves as chairman of Jews for Jesus and is co-founder of Jill’s House, a nonprofit that celebrates special children and provides renewal to their families. Solomon holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Th.M. from Capital Bible Seminary, a master’s degree in eastern studies from Johns Hopkins University, and a doctorate of divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.