DALLAS (LBM)—Rod Masteller, 75, a retired pastor from Louisiana who served as a consultant for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention for the past two years, died Dec. 13 in Dallas due to COVID-19 complications.
Masteller was a pastor for nearly 50 years, leading a number of congregations in Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, and he served in several denominational roles at the state and national levels.
Those who knew him said his leadership and service were shaped by his deep love of God’s Word as well as his passion for pouring himself into the discipleship of others. He also was known for his deep unending love of family.
Rodney Gage, pastor of ReThink Life Church, Orlando, Florida, said that family was near and dear to his father-in-law.
“He loved his daughters, his sons-in-law and his grandchildren,” Gage said. “He had saved for years to fulfill his dream to take his entire family on an all-expense paid trip to Israel. He wanted it to serve as a legacy trip to mark our lives forever by walking where Jesus walked. He fulfilled that dream in November of 2019. It was truly the trip of a lifetime we will never forget.”
“His life, ministry and love for others were shaped by Philippians 3:10,” he told the Baptist Message. “He wanted others to know Jesus and to grow as His disciples with a deep love for His Word.”
Gage also said Masteller was devoted to disciple-making, mentoring scores of businessmen and young pastors.
One of his protégés, Nathan Lorick, now serves as the executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention.
Lorick expressed sadness for the loss of a close mentor, but was equally thankful for Masteller’s ministry and friendship—even during these last few days.
“Rod took a chance on a 17-year-old who had more passion than he did wisdom, and he shepherded me in my walk with Christ and in ministry,” Lorick shared. “He was the greatest encourager. When I would text him at the hospital to find out how he was doing, his messages back to me were about me. Even in his final days he was seeking to mentor and encourage me.
“He was one of the godliest men I have ever known,” Lorick added. “His heart beat for the holiness of God.”
Jimmy Draper, a two-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a past president of LifeWay Christian Resources, described Masteller as a close friend and a fellow leader in the Southern Baptist Convention.
“He and I shared many experiences over the years and had a lot of great discussions about our denomination and the churches of the SBC,” Draper said. “He was a people person who poured his life into younger ministers.
“He was a dynamic preacher of the Gospel and has remained busy in preaching even since retiring,” Draper continued. “He has left a remarkable legacy of faithfulness that will long endure beyond his actual lifetime. He served well and finished strong!”
Louisiana Baptist Convention leaders said Masteller made a lasting impact in the state because of his love for evangelism and discipleship.
Heath Peloquin, pastor of Summer Grove Baptist Church, said he met Masteller when they were co-workers with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and that they have remained friends ever since.
“Dr. Rod Masteller was a beloved pastor here at Summer Grove Baptist Church,” Peloquin said. “He was a dear friend, and greatly respected within our church and community. Brother Rod loved people, and he was loved by so many. We will miss him, but we know that he is with the Lord. We are praying for Linda, and their family.”
Steve Horn, LBC executive director, said Masteller will be remembered for his legacy of leadership.
“What a gift Dr. Rod Masteller was to Louisiana Baptists,” Horn said. “Though he was only in our state for about 15 years, he left an unforgettable mark.
“He had a passion to know Christ and make Him known. He had a passion to invest in the next generation of leaders,” Horn explained. “I am grateful to the Lord for Rod’s investment in my life. Every time I spoke to Rod, I wanted to be a better man, husband, dad, son, friend, preacher, leader and disciple. He was such an encourager. I’ve lost a true friend. I will miss him.”
While Masteller served the Summer Grove congregation (1998-2011), he baptized 1,527 new believers, leading Louisiana Baptists in baptisms (287) in 1999. Three years in a row, 1998-2000, the church baptized more than 10 percent of the of its average worship attendance under his leadership.
He also was elected to two terms as president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, 2010-2011. Later, he served as vice president of external advancement and director of the Joseph Willis Institute for Great Awakening at Louisiana College (2011-2013).
Before coming to Louisiana, he served two terms as president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (1987-88).
He was named chairman of the SBC Credentials Committee (1988) and was appointed to the denomination’s Committee on Committees (2003).
After leaving Louisiana, he and his wife moved to Frisco, Texas, to be closer to family. While there he served the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention as a consultant to pastors and other church leaders, 2018-20, and was an interim pastor for multiple congregations in that state.
Masteller earned the Bachelor of Arts from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, and the Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Additionally, he was honored with a Doctor of Divinity degree from California Graduate School of Theology located in La Habra, California, and a Doctor of Sacred Theology from Southwest Baptist University.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Linda Jines Masteller, their four daughters, Michelle Gage (Rodney), Kim Welch (Ryan), Crystal Gornto (Scott), and Heather Oathout (Brian), as well as 11 grandchildren: Becca Patti, Ashlyn Segur, Luke Gage; Sophia, Ben, and Beau Welch; Noah and Oakley Gornto; Isabelle, Grace and Carter Oathout; and, a sister, Karen Duncan (Randy).
Gage said the family has set up “The Making of a Legacy Project” to honor his father-in-law’s emphasis on mentoring the next generation. It is based on the life and legacy principles Masteller used to disciple others. He said in lieu of flowers, donations can be made online by accessing https://www.rethinklife.com/legacy, which also shares more about the vision for this memorial initiative.
A private celebration of life service will be streamed Dec. 17, 10 a.m. CST, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/rodmasteller.
—This first appeared on the Louisiana Baptist Message website