Both Pastor and Algebra Teacher
By Mackenzie Slusser
“It was something that I said I never wanted to do.” Mr. Travis Cook said of being a pastor. Mr. Cook grew up as a pastor’s kid, so he knew how stressful and difficult being a pastor could be. It’s a big responsibility and he doesn’t take it lightly. When Mr. Cook was twenty-four years of age he started to feel like being a pastor was something that God wanted him to do. He still didn’t really want to be a pastor, however, because he said he would get very nervous. He kept feeling like it was something that God wanted him to do though, so he took a leap of faith. “Somewhere along the way I started to realize that I liked it,” said Mr. Cook. He started out pastoring Pilgrims Rest Baptist Church in Reichert, Oklahoma when he was about twenty-five years old.
“I think the most affecting things that I have been a part of as a pastor are foreign mission trips.” Mr. Cook said when asked what has impacted him the most from being a pastor. He has gone to Indonesia, India, and Mexico. Of course, he could still go on mission trips if he wasn’t a pastor, but being a pastor has given him opportunities that he thinks he wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. “It really opens your eyes to how blessed one is and how much we take for granted,” he remarked.
Mr. Cook has taught high school Algebra for seventeen years and has been a pastor for fifteen years. He enjoys teaching math and said, “It’s really fun when students seem like they are learning and interested, but preaching is definitely my real passion.” He likes that both jobs let him be around people, but he says that it can be stressful to find the time he feels like he needs to put into doing both. When asked if he has ever struggled with public speaking he responded with, “I have never gotten really nervous being in front of a class teaching math, but I would get very nervous when I first started preaching. I would shake really bad and get sick to my stomach.” In the beginning, his sermons would only last for five to ten minutes and he would run out of things to say. “There were many times when my mind would go completely blank and it was a sickening feeling,” he recalled. He usually took a deep breath and tried to move onto something else. It would get a little easier every time that he preached until, finally, he was comfortable with it. Mr. Cook has happily been the pastor for Double Branch Baptist in Poteau, Oklahoma for the past three years.