“The Proverbs Man”

by George McFarland March 30, 2014

Several weeks ago, I sent an email to some members of Tenth asking them to describe Marion Clark in two or three words. Marion is a man of few words, so I figured that few words would fit him well. Essentially, what I discovered were descriptions of the same things I was reading in my devotions from the book of Proverbs. Of course, we know that wisdom is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, but as we are in him, we also take on those aspects of wisdom. Certainly, Marion has. 

This is Marion’s last official Sunday at Tenth. What better way to honor him than to highlight the character and work of this man we all have come to love and appreciate at Tenth. 

Marion has faithfully served Tenth as an effective administrator. From 1992 to 1999 and from 2005 to 2014, he has served as our Executive Minister. This has involved, as we all know, many different roles. Regardless of the role, Marion could be counted on. He has been that “quiet unassuming rock that held Tenth Church together.” He has been our “administrator anchor.” The staff, who see Marion every day, know he is the one you go to because he is faithfully there for whenever and whatever people need. In the words of one staff person, he is “steady, available, dependable, and knowledgeable.” If you gave Marion a job, he got it done and always on time. 

Marion knew the pulse of the Tenth congregation. It wasn’t uncommon for the Nominating Committee to look to him for suggestions of potential officers because he knew “most” people in the congregation and knew their gifts and talents. His preaching spoke to very specific needs in the congregation. One member recalls in the early 1990’s when Marion was preaching on Proverbs 3:5–6, he used the opportunity to very publicly exhort the young men of the congregation to get married and stop waiting around for “something better.” He also fostered greater communication throughout the church by creating Tenth Press, Living Church, church-wide blog, and weekly e-blasts. It was almost as if Marion was everywhere but we didn’t know it. 

Marion was a spiritual counselor. Marion offered spiritual help to those in need in a variety of areas. Often assisted by his wife, Ginger, Marion mentored and counseled a number of Tenth people, including couples, officers of the church, and fellow staff members. He regularly led Bible studies throughout the city. Don’t forget, too, Marion’s unique gift of “conflict resolution.” He provided keen leadership in bringing ACTS into the centrality of Tenth ministry through the 1995 Session Task Force on Mercy Ministry. He was also on the Board of City Center Academy when they merged with Spruce Hill Christian School. He objectively assessed situations and issues, spoke truth to the parties, even in very contentious cases. His preaching, too, was an outgrowth of his caring heart: he spoke the gospel to us “clearly and simply, patiently reminding us of truths we needed to hear.”

Marion is a humble and godly man. Some years ago I commended Marion for being such an integral force in the emerging ministries at Tenth. His reply was: “I just point the right person to the right job.” And yet, I knew he had done far more than that! Over the years, his desire was for you and me to grow. We were helped by his talks on “Speaking the Truth in Love,” and his very practical devotionals taken from Dr. Boice’s sermons. 

Isn’t it fitting, then, that Marion spent hours preparing witty devotionals on the book of Proverbs and now we see the character of the book in his life? He is “The Proverbs Man.”

As Andrew Murray said in regard to the famous missionary to the Indians, David Brainerd, so we would say of Marion: “God has no more precious gift to give to a church or an age than a man who lives as the embodiment of his will, and inspires those around him with the faith of what grace can do.” We will miss Marion and Ginger, but will certainly not forget their love and friendship. Our prayer is that the Lord would lead them to a congregation where our Lord will continue to use their lives for the strengthening of the body of Christ.