Keeping the faith; Wheat relishes role as pastor

By David Talley | Published Saturday, October 15, 2016

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Mike Wheat

Mike Wheatt. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Even before he became pastor at County Line Cowboy Church in Sunset, Mike Wheat had history with the town.

In high school, Wheat’s Fort Worth-area basketball team played at Bowie. Locals confronted the team bus before the game, holding signs with racial epithets and demanding the team return home.

“They beat up our bus and threw rocks at us,” he said. “Now look where I am. God’s got me there now pastoring. I sometimes think He has a sense of humor.”

Wheat studied both theology and criminal justice in college. After graduating, he worked for Tarrant County Juvenile Corrections but said he felt called to preaching and eventually changed professions, working at David’s Western Wear in Decatur and guest preaching at churches and rodeos.

“It wasn’t something I originally wanted to do, but it’s something I enjoy,” he said. “In fact, I’m elated beyond measure that I’ve accepted and trusted Him that He’s going to provide.”

Ten years ago, Wheat took a job at James Wood Motors in Decatur, and in May of this year, he accepted the permanent pastor position at Sunset, returning to a community much-changed from his high school days.

Throughout most of his adult life, Wheat said he’s trusted God’s guidance to help make the choices he can’t make alone. The same faith that brought him to lead the church earlier also plays a daily role in his day job as a used car salesmen.

“My job is about faith,” he joked. “You get paid commission. It’s all about faith. I have to trust from month to month God is going to provide. And he has done that.”

While some may not see how the two posts complement each other, Wheat said he sees similarities between helping clients find a vehicle and leading a church. Success in either field means taking the time to know people. Often, clients are quick to share the circumstances that brought them to the car lot.

“I feel like you learn a whole lot,” he said. “Sometimes you learn their whole life story. The first thing you hear is, ‘and the deal is …’ And then they tell you. ‘And the deal is …’ ‘And the deal is…’ And then at church, you hear, ‘can I tell you my story?’ There are always stories involved, but the bottom line is, who did you trust through these times?”

The patience learned through 10 years of selling cars can also be applied to both jobs, he said. Both positions require outgoing personalities and strong listening skills coupled with the understanding that you can’t always please everyone. The objective is to continue trusting God and treat each day as a gift to be unwrapped.

“I just want to please Jesus,” he said. “That’s who I want to please daily. And some days he says, ‘I’m not pleased with you, Mike. I need to talk to you.'”

At the church in Sunset, Wheat said that simple approach is paramount. While the church celebrates cowboy culture and even holds rodeo events in an adjacent arena, Wheat said there is no dress code. The congregation holds a potluck meal on the third Sunday of each month.

“You don’t have to have Wrangler jeans and a Cinch shirt to come in,” he said. “All you need is an open heart.”

For Wheat, with a vast sea of life lessons to draw from every Sunday, one biblical story stands out. Jesus and his disciples are crossing a large body of water. Jesus falls asleep in the boat, but as they reach their midpoint, they encounter a great storm. Frantically, the disciples wake Jesus, who tells them not to worry about the storm; he’s already said they’ll make it through safe.

“To me,” Wheat said, “that teaches me in life it’s not going to always be smooth but keep the faith and keep going.”

Sunday Morning

SUNDAY MORNING – Wheat delivers a sermon at County Line Cowboy Church in Sunset. Submitted photo

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