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Monday, July 25, 2016

LOYALTY TO WHAT?

The Danger of Transferring Loyalty

He was the greatest church builder of our day. He did not attract a throng of people through the human methods of today’s megachurches. He employed the Biblical methods that allowed the Lord to build His church through him. We saw what God did through him and we admired him for it. We came to hear him and to identify with him. We vicariously lived through his successes and through the blessings on his ministry. We listened to his tapes, attended his Pastors’ Schools, read his books and even preached his sermons, but one question that we need to ask ourselves is this. Did we get his mind?
Three months before Dr. Jack Hyles died he seemed to have a premonition of the fact that his ministry was drawing to a conclusion. He asked this very poignant question. “When I am gone, who is going to think for our guys?”
He knew! He knew that we were his followers, but he wasn’t sure we were his students. He knew that we copied what he did, but he was not sure we studied why he did it. He knew we listened to his words, but he was not sure we delved into his mind. He knew we were students of his methods, but he was not sure we were students of his philosophies. He knew that in life we would not be dissuaded from following him, but he wasn’t sure that in death we would be astute enough to follow his principles. Yes, he knew, and he was troubled by the realization that we had not learned to think for ourselves like he thought.



We are in danger of becoming like sheep in the independent Baptist ranks. We follow men, but we are poor at following thoughts and principles. We think with our hearts, but far too seldom with our heads. Now that our leader is gone, we are looking for another leader to think for us because we failed to learn to think for ourselves from a master of thought. But, what is to become of us if these new leaders are not right? We are destined to follow them as blindly as other groups of the past that also failed to learn the true greatness of their leader, which was his ability to think.
Thinkers follow principle, thus, they follow men of principle and become principled thinkers as they study that one who leads them. As they follow that man of principle, they learn to think as he did, thus, being able to go on without that leader when he is gone. Dr. Jack Hyles followed a great thinker and man of principle, Dr. John Rice. He sat at the feet of Dr. Rice not just to learn all that Dr. Rice did, but also to learn how he thought. When Dr. Rice died, who took his place in Dr. Hyles’ life? Dr. Hyles did. He merely had become the thinker Dr. Rice was. He did not need a replacement, for he had become a man with the mind of Dr. Rice. He was loyal to the man who filled the position Dr. Rice once held, but it was Dr. Rice and his mind he followed not that position.



If you look at the life of Dr. Hyles, you will discover that his mind was a compilation of the minds of all the men he had chosen to follow throughout the years. Who were these men? Proven men. Steadfast men. Consistent men. Men whose minds had been honed through years of principled decision making and leadership. When these men passed off the scene he transferred his loyalty, but not his followship to those men who took their place.
What’s the difference? Loyalty means that he remained a friend to those men, but followship is something quite different. Followship says, I am transferring my thought development to you. But wait That will lead to certain failure, for when that chosen leader has passed off the scene, should we not have learned to now think for ourselves?
Did Jesus leave others to think for His disciples when He was gone? No. He trusted that they had learned to think as He thought. They were not only disciples of His actions, they were disciples of His truth or His mind. Their success or failure would now depend on their ability to put into action the ability to think like Christ did.
A good English student is not one who follows an English teacher in conjugating a sentence and then when that teacher is gone finds another to follow. No. A good English student is one who eventually learns how to conjugate a sentence for himself. A poor student is one who must perpetually be taught, for they cannot think for themselves.
We all need teachers, but are we merely allowing those teachers to think for us or are we allowing them to teach us how to think? If we were good students of Dr. Jack Hyles, then at this point we ought to be able to think for ourselves. That does not mean we do not allow other men to influence us, inspire us or instruct us. What it does mean is that we don’t give the mantle of thought to another.


Dr. Tom Wallace, Dr. Rice, and Dr. Hyles

Dr. Bill Rice, Dr. John Rice, and Dr. Hyles

Dr. Jack Hyles picked his leaders very carefully and never based his choice upon their position. He studied men and how they thought. Early in his ministry he found the men of thought from whom he wanted to learn to think. He followed those men, studying the why of their actions and not just the what. He wanted to learn the greatness of their minds and not just the greatness of their accomplishments. Accomplishments cannot truly be followed for God has differing accomplishments for each one of us. However, the mind of great accomplishment can be emulated, which can lead us to our own accomplishment.
Why did so many of Dr. Jack Hyles’ followers not experience great accomplishment and, in many cases, even encountered great failure in their ministries? Was it because they were so busy copying the answers that they were not formulating the patterns of thoughts that would allow them to answer the questions for themselves? We are like the failing student who wants to sit close to the straight “A” student so that we can copy their answers and get an “A” too. But, what will become of us when the “A” student is no longer there so we can copy them?

Would it not be better to learn to think for ourselves? 

Maybe we will only get a “B,” but at least we learned to think. The difference in the “B” student and the “A” student is merely a slight difference in their ability to apply the thought processes to the problem. We are copycats whose grade is determined by who we copy rather than students who can think for ourselves.
When Jesus left His disciples, He did not fill His position with another to lead His disciples, but rather He left them with a challenge to take what He had taught them and reach the world. These followers of Christ were now left to think on their own. What did they do? They thought for themselves based upon the principles they had learned from their leader.
Dr. Hyles is gone now. Are we thinking or just following? Are we acting on impulse or are we acting upon the principles we learned from him? Are we thinking for ourselves or are we searching for another from whose paper we can copy? Are we employing the patterns of thought from our leader of the past or are we blindly looking for another to lead us and think for us?
For years, those who loved Dr. Hyles would often jokingly say things like, “If I want to know what I believe about something I just get one of Brother Hyles’ tapes and find out.” It was innocent and cute, but maybe it was also dangerously true. Maybe we studied the answers, but forgot to learn the principles that led him to his conclusions. All compromise and change comes from extending followship, rather than loyalty, to the position of a leader. We change because we never learned to think for ourselves.

Jack Hyles did not learn what to think by his chosen leaders as much he learned how to think from them. 

He was independent in his thinking, but principled. He even disagreed with the conclusions of some of those men, but still he was their student in learning how to think. A part of thinking independently and by principle is being able to not only disagree but to disagree with principle. He never used his conclusions to hurt those who taught him to think.
Dr. Hyles often prayed these words before a meeting, “Lord, give us the mind of Christ.” Thus, his thinking was never guided by thoughts of his own reputation in his decision making. He thought of what was right even if it caused others to be angry with him. He would rather have been justly wrong than unjustly right in dealing with matters.



He was guided by the principles of thinking rather than by what it would bring to him. He did not go into meetings and wonder how he would look or how others would perceive him. His thinking was not guided by those self-serving ideas, but rather by thoughts of what was just and right.
One of the great attributes of his mind was the deliberate nature of how he thought. Principle was his ruler. Opinions were always judged by those principles. Within the boundaries of his principles he valued the opinion of others, but when they strayed outside of those boundaries he quickly let principle take over again.
Personalities could not defeat principles. Persuasiveness was subject to them as well. Thus, a well-crafted argument was no match against those principles in his mind. Principles were the police force that arrested all other thoughts that tried to trespass into his mind.
It has often been said that Dr. Hyles had a great mind, which is probably true. But, there have been many others with perhaps greater minds whose influence never came close to his. It was not the greatness of his mind that made him great; it was the greatness of his thoughts that made him great. Great minds have great ideas but great thinkers make great decisions.
An idea is not great in and of itself, but only under the control of principled thinking, which can make the proper decision regarding that idea. Many great ideas have gone awry because they were not well thought out. He never reacted to an idea for he knew that ideas were creations of the imagination. One’s imagination had to be held accountable to the full processes of his thinking and never allowed full freedom of its own. Before an idea could be acted upon it had to stand before the scrutiny of his principles.

Why did Dr. Hyles spend so little time in idle chatter? 

Was he anti-social? Did he not enjoy conversation? To the contrary, Dr. Hyles was a great conversationalist, but he was careful not to fill his mind with that which would block his ability to ponder and reflect properly. What if he had ever been careless in his thoughts? Countless lives could have been destroyed.
One unprincipled decision could have ended a man’s ministry or ruined a person’s life. His value on people helped him place a greater value on guarding his mind. Again, he had the mind of Christ because he took upon himself the form of a servant and was obedient to that which God had called him to do.
He is gone now. He went to heaven far sooner than any of us expected. We weren’t ready for it. Tragically, he knew we weren’t ready for it mentally. He tried to let us into his mind, not to show us what to think, but how to think. He loved our diversity. He wanted us to be ourselves, but with the ability to think in a principled manner.
He taught us his principles, but we were too busy gawking at his accomplishments to understand that his accomplishments were by-products of those principles. We were too busy seeking his approval to pay attention to that great mind that would soon be taken from us. We missed so much as we waded in the shallow waters of our insecurities while he longed for us to cast our nets into the depths of his mind. Tragically many did not do it.

So, is it too late? 

He is gone, so what are we to do if we failed to study his mind as we should? Fortunately, he left us much of his mind in many of his books. If we would take the time to study those books, possibly we could also study how he thought. Perhaps, if we would even just reflect back a little, we could remember all that he taught us about the principles that guided his thoughts.
The one thing we must do is to realize that the greatness of the man was not just in his deeds. The greatness of his deeds were mere reflections of the greatness of his mind. His actions were the results of his thoughts. His thoughts were a result of his principles. His principles were a result of his decision to study great men of thought and learn how to capture their mind.
The challenge for each of us is to realize that thinking requires work and diligence. We must decide what the principles are by which we will live and build our ministries and then allow those principles to guide our thoughts. We must no longer blindly follow men or popular opinion. We must quit allowing the phone and other outside influences to guide so many of our thoughts and get alone and decide what is right. Our minds are more than a copy machine; they are a calculator. We must use our minds to calculate by principle our actions. Let this mind be in you which was also in Jack Hyles. Think by principle and think for yourself.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

QUESTIONING THOSE WHO QUESTION!

Why I Am Suspicious of Young Men Who Criticize Men Like Jack Hyles.


Most of us wish we could point to some politician and say there is another Ronald Reagan or that man has the integrity of one of our forefathers. It is not to say that in retrospect some of the leaders of our day will not prove to be great. It is possible they will. However, we will not know until they have proven themselves over many years of ministry. If they have the stature and the greatness of the great leaders of our country’s past perhaps they will. 

It is not that we do not support them. It is not that we do not see their potential. It is not that we do not cheer for them. It is not that we don't want them to have success. However, we know that they have not yet proven themselves like others before them. This is why we point backwards to the greatness of past men as a standard for those who are in leadership in the present day.
It is interesting that in ministry many do not use the same standard. They think that we should ignore the men of the past while lifting up the men of today. In fact, when we criticize great men of the past it seems we are less concerned when the same thing is being done in todays political and religious arenas. 

However, the principle is the same. These younger men have not yet proven themselves, nor do they have the right to attack and question proven men who went before them. Often, by finding fault in those men they make changes that water down the purity of Biblical positions. 
It's strange that we want a Ronald Reagan in the White House, but not a Jack Hyles in the pulpit of God's house. It is interesting that we want great political leaders like we had in the past, but seem to not care to have great spiritual leaders like we had in the past. We accept watered-down versions and criticize those who notice the weakness and try to call it out. Are we not to call out the changes that will move us away from that which we have believed and fought for?
Young men should be careful to criticize men who have gone before them. And when those of us who knew those defend them, we should not be attacked because we question the young man's motives and methods. I am not fighting younger men, but I do question the integrity of a younger man who tries to find fault in great men who have gone before them. 
Typically the reason we find fault is because we have something we want to change. Attacking those men is often used as a defense for the changes they are making. Don't ask me not to call men out on this. Don't ask me to sit idly by while they criticize Jack Hyles and criticize things that he stood for without truly understanding the principles of why he fought for them. Don't ask us to accept their label of legalism on what was not legalism.
I am suspicious of young men who question men like Jack Hyles. It is not because I think Jack Hyles was perfect. It is not because I believe that everyone must do everything the way he did them. It is because in their criticism of him they're trying to justify something in themselves. I question what and I questioned why. 

I never tried to be like Jack Hyles in every area of my ministry. However, I did not need to criticize Jack Hyles in order to be different. I operated in the manner in which I felt God wanted me to, but I didn't feel I needed to criticize Jack Hyles or John Rice to justify my differences. In fact most of the times when I did something different I questioned myself first. Before I veered from there their methods or their philosophies I carefully considered if maybe they knew something I didn’t know.
A younger preacher told the story of reading a book by Dr. Hyles. He adamantly disagreed with something Dr. Hyles taught. After a time being in the ministry he became aware to him how right Dr. Hyles had been. You see, he did not know yet what he did not know. He did not understand what he had not yet experienced. He had walked a block and Dr. Hyles shoes rather than a mile. He had put on the same shoes in the shoe store but he had yet to go out and prove that he could walk in those shoes.
Several Observations
1. Be very careful when criticizing a proven man. Don't be too quick to think you know better. Don’t scrutinize the men who God blessed in the past. Learn from them. They arrived at their destination while others struggle over their own direction.
2. Be careful about following a man who criticizes proven leaders. There is a reason they don't like them. There is a reason they question them. Forgive me for saying this, but there's a reason Dr. Hyles successor questioned Jack Hyles' methods and why he deflated Jack Hyles' numbers. We couldn't see it then, but we see it now.
3. Don't judge old men by the young men. Does not the Bible teach that it is unwise to take the Council of younger men over older men? Would that not include older men who have passed off the scene and who are now in Heaven? Neither do I compare the young men to these older men, UNLESS they criticize those men.
4. Don't lose the old-time values while accepting the modern methods. It is easy for us to take modern methods and lose the integrity of our message. It is easy for us to lose our separatist position while trying to embrace the modern methods of our time. Modern methods can be good, but let us not lose the proven positions of those who went before us
5. Study the older men. Go ahead and attend conferences, but read the books by the older men. Go ahead and attend church growth conferences. You will learn something. But read Jack Hyles books on church building and Sunday school as well. Dr. Hyles forgot more than these younger men have yet to learn. Be a student of the past.  It would be wise for a 2 to 1 ratio of reading to attending.
6. Give the young men time to prove themselves, but beware of those who criticize and find fault in their heritage. One of the sins of America’s liberal institutions is the way they have altered history to demean our forefathers.The Scripture says to pay attention to the "end of their conversation." Souls saved and baptized is still the barometer not transfers. Growth by attraction is different than growth by attacking the gates of Hell. Many Southern Baptist churches with spectacular growth are merely sapping the strength out of area churches via "attraction." 
7. Don’t blame the older men for the current state of things. This is a popular method of some younger preachers. They credit men like Dr. Hyles for good he did and then add a BUT to their commendation. Usually the BUT indicates a drift in their own position. It also is usually a mischaracterization of the man. Most of the criticisms I hear of Dr. Hyles ministry are blatantly inaccurate.
I do not want to attack younger preachers. However, if in defending an older preacher or a preacher of the past from the attack of a younger preacher makes me an enemy then I'm an enemy. Often time defending someone causes people to attack you when all you're doing is defending those under attack. If a preacher writes a negative article about Dr. Hyles don’t get upset with me if I choose to defend Dr. Hyles. Let us not forget what these men did and what they could teach us from their experience


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

THE POSITION OF "CHANGE"


“Change IS a Position”


Dr. Hyles was at times criticized for his hesitance to change things. He was always very careful and considered before making any kind of change. I remember him speaking about men who were changing the times of services for the convenience of their people. Some thought he was silly for his position, but Dr. Hyles explained why this concerned him.
It concerned him first of all because change is usually a sign of instability. Men who are unstable are looking for changes that they think will improve their situation. Many pastors change, hoping to find the secret to building a ministry. Dr. Hyles always said that change was a "position." He feared changing. He resisted changing. Typically those who began to change never know when to stop changing. He feared this.
He also taught that change was often an indication of a shift in purpose. Many people thought that I was stubborn. Well I am to a certain degree. However, there were certain things that I refused to change because I did not want to shift the purpose of that particular item. For example, I refused to change my Sunday night service time. For years we had Sunday night church at seven o'clock.  

I am not saying all who alter their times of services are sinning. I am saying there is a potential for danger anytime we make changes.  In my opinion there are two words we need to be aware of; one is "improvement" and the other is "change." One is a battle against the current stream of thought and dealing with it to overcome it. The other is the law of thermodynamics at work where left alone everything automatically deteriorates. My thought; it is a battle between the flesh and the spirit.




REASONS FOR CHANGE

Whenever men would explain or excuse their decision to change their service time they would use one of two reasons. They would say it was a school night so they wanted to get their people home earlier for the sake of their kids. 
The second reason was so that the people would have more time to fellowship. My Sunday night service was not designed for either of those purposes. I was not seeking to make life more convenient for my people, nor was I seeking more time for my people to fellowship. The purpose of Sunday night service was to build Christians. 

I am not saying that six o'clock is worse than seven o'clock. What I am saying is that I was not going to emphasize something so superfluous that would distract our people from the main purpose of Sunday night church. I did not want them to feel that they were doing God some kind of favor by being at church on Sunday evening.
Those of us who kept our service at seven did not seem to have a problem getting a crowd because the crowd knew why they were coming. They were not coming to church so they could have more time for fellowship. They were not coming to church with the concern of their children getting home sooner. In fact the inconvenience was often better for their spiritual well-being. They learned to make sacrifices. Change should not be "purpose" changing. Most of the time we change and it sends a signal that something else has changed. The change is merely an indicator of something else. 

Change is often a sign of influence others have upon us. I can usually tell who is influencing someone by the changes that they are making. They go to a conference or read a book by certain persons and they change things because that is the way that particular person does things. Be careful who you emulate. If you emulate them on those things which seem insignificant, you are more likely to emulate them on things that are of greater importance.
Change is often a sign of uncertainty or insecurity. Men who are given to change are typically men who were trying to find their identity. They are insecure with who they are and they are trying to change things hoping to gain some type of security. Men who change often create instability in others because of their own instability.
For many years I preached for a pastor in the state of Florida. I dearly loved this man. There was not a pastor in America I felt a closer relationship than I did with this particular man. I preached for him often. When I had Texas Baptist college I bestowed an honorary doctorate upon this man. He was rock solid in everything. His children, as they grew older began to have more influence on him. He began to make changes. 

At first these changes were insignificant on the surface. They seemed to not really matter. But the changes continued. What was a trickle became a stream. What was a stream became a flood. Eventually that flood washed away almost everything the man once believed. Today he is not a Baptist, nor fundamental, nor separated. He condones most of the things that he once preached against. In fact he condemns the very people with with whom he once associated. 
How did that happen? He became careless about change and the law of thermodynamics came into play in his home and ministry. We should never be careless about change. We must convert the word "change" into "improvement." Things must be done on "purpose." We must make sure that change truly has a purpose that coincides with our main purpose. 

Our main purpose is not to create more convenience for our people. Our purpose is not to satisfy or pacify their families. Our purpose is to get the Gospel to the world and build a church that has a vision for the lost. Once the change begins the purpose will eventually change as well.
Recently I was with a man who I have known for many years. He said to me, “Dr. Gray, one of the things I admire most about you is that you have not changed.” I would beg to differ. I have changed a lot, but my change could be defined as "improvement." 

However, my so-called change is not noticeable because it is within the purpose that I have always maintained. I have not changed my standards. I have not changed my zeal for soul winning. My changes or improvements can barely be seen by most people because I have kept my focus on the same things while making minor adjusting. I did not spend my time trying to change my ministry in order to satisfy the whims of people. I spent my time trying to improve Bob Gray Sr. in order to be more effective in the work God has given me to do. The work stayed the same, but the man changed or improved. That kind of so-called change is not noticed, but it is felt.

Monday, July 18, 2016

TWISTED TALKING POINTS

Beware of Rhetoric and Talking Points




In every group there are certain soundbites or talking points that are a part of that group's position. For example, the Tea Party has often been defined by various talking points which are a part of their platform. Those talking points are not the substance of all they believe. They are merely issues which, at that moment, are important to them. Those issues may change because times change. Rhetoric is most often based upon the immediate issues that concern a group of people.
Enemies often take these talking points or, as we are calling it rhetoric, and seek to confine a person or a group with certain definitions. They twist those talking points to discredit that person or group. They despise what that person believes, so they want to create a narrowness about that person or group. Liberals take the talking points of the Tea Party and make those people sound very small or redefine what they mean. The result is that if you are a conservative who believes in the principles of the Tea Party, you are deemed a racist. Now that is ridiculous, but it is how the enemy fights against what they cannot counter with truth.
Certain issues were at the forefront in the last years of Dr. Jack Hyles’ life. Those issues became talking points in the independent Baptist world. However, those talking points did not fully represent all that Dr. Hyles stood for or believed. The King James Bible issue was one example. The enemies of that position sought to confine Dr. Hyles inside those talking points as though that was the extent of what he was or believed. The vastness of his beliefs and positions were ignored in an attempt to define him in a way that accomplished their purpose.
Unfortunately, even good people often start believing what the enemy says. Anyone who listened to the vast preaching of Dr. Hyles during the last five years of his ministry would understand the extent of his knowledge and the depth of his faith. The issues that defined him were not truly representative of all he was. However, a man who chooses to be a spokesman or a statesman must also carry the burden of being labeled by those talking points. He knew and accepted that.
We see it happening in the political arena. A conservative politician arises and soon the liberals are seeking to define him by the rhetoric while ignoring his commitment to our constitution in which he believes. Cause oriented leaders are defined or misdefined by those who seek to limit their influence and castigate them as fringe.


That was true of Dr. Hyles. Time and time again he has been mischaracterized by the various issues that were important to him. These talking points did not limit the scope of his beliefs. An example of this is pants on woman. Dr. Hyles did not believe that a woman who wore pants was lost or even necessarily a bad Christian. He did believe she could be a better influence, example, and testimony if she chose to wear skirts or dresses.
However, this was not a litmus test of her Christianity. The issue of pants became more and more a topic of attack by enemies or by Christians who decided that they were going to take a position different than his. They attacked his right to believe in pants as an issue and thus misrepresented his belief. They would call him a legalist because of his position. They took his talking points and turned them into a confining and defining definition of who he was.
Brother Hyles wrote a book on separation. In Dr. Hyles’ book the word pants is mentioned exactly one time, and even then it was not an attack on women wearing pants. Pants to him represented his right to have standards. The issue really was not pants as the attackers would claim. The issue was standards, direction and pants was just a talking point. He was not condemning women who wore pants. His greater concern was those who fought against the right to set standards. However, he was mislabeled by those who didn't like the standard. Sometimes his fight was for the right to believe as much as it was in the belief itself.
A few years ago a fuss made over a television show called Duck Dynasty. I am not in particular a Duck Dynasty fan. I can take it or leave it. (Mrs. Gray would prefer to take it because she finds it to be funny.) The patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family spoke out about men engaging in homosexual sex. He was stating a belief, but in that statement he gave a broader message and that message was we are all sinners and we all need a savior. The world did not want to characterize him in that broader spectrum because they do not want to admit we are all sinners and they certainly do not want to admit that we need a savior. So, they accused him of attacking homosexual men.
Obviously the patriarch is against homosexuality, but the bigger issue was the right to speak out about what he believes to be right and wrong. The issue was calling sin by its name. He was defined by the rhetoric rather than by the bigger picture of what he was trying to accomplish.
Let me delve into another very controversial subject, that being the King James Bible. Dr. Hyles was far more tolerant on that issue than most people would understand. For a long time his position was that it is possible that other versions of the Bible could be used effectively. As the Bible was being read, translated, or rewritten, we began to increasingly see the truth being perverted. He was slow to make his decision as to his position, but realized he had to take a position. To say the King James Bible was not inspired was to say there was no inspired Bible. He saw the weakness of that position. After listening to others and weighing everything carefully, he made his decision.
Because of his influence that decision was going to affect those who followed him. He chose to come out strongly for the King James Bible, but he did not condemn all of those who used other versions. He carefully grew and developed that position and his talking points were often misrepresented by those who wanted to misrepresent him because they did not agree. They labeled his position based upon his talking points rather than upon his true position. He had a very reasoned position.
However, they used his rhetoric in an attempt to make him seem to be an extremist. But are not all conservatives and fundamentalists labeled as extremists? It is hard to believe that those of us who believe what most Americans believed fifty years ago are now extremists in the society. It is also hard to believe that those of us who believe what most Christians believed fifty years ago are now extremists in the Christian world. They have taken our talking points and turned them into a caricature of all that we really believe.
Let's take another example. In my lifetime I have seen freedom of speech decimated by the liberals. Those who defend freedom of speech are characterized as being haters, even racists. I do not believe I am a racist because I believe a person has the freedom to say something that is offensive to someone of another race, even though I do not think they should do so.
If someone uses the word “fat” I could say it offends me because, well, let’s just say I'm not skinny. I am not a racist because I use talking points that defend the right of someone to say what they believe. I have a right to say homosexuality is wrong. The Liberals would say that I have no right to say what I believe and that makes me want to speak it even more, merely to exercise my freedom and to prove to them I have the right to say it.
Sometimes it is not the fact of what we say, but the right to say that fact that causes us to need to take a stronger stance. Tell Dr. Hyles he couldn't do or say something, and he would do or say it even more. So, when they attacked his talking points he talked more and louder. That is what's leaders do. The problem is followers then take it and make it the basis of the movement. The leader speaks it because his right is being threatened, then the followers hear him and turn it into the major platform of their cause.
The major cause to Dr. Hyles was the souls of men. That never changed. Some of his followers took the rhetoric that he used in defense of the attacks being made upon the movement and turned them into the major purpose of the movement. He spoke against denominations because independence was being attacked. Southern Baptists were questioning the right for us to be independent, so he used the rhetoric against the Southern Baptists. He loved Southern Baptists, but many of his followers made the Southern Baptists the enemy. Satan is the enemy.
I am not suggesting that he did not believe everything he said, but I am saying that what he said did not constitute everything he believed. There was far more to him than the soundbites attributed to him or that were used to confine and define him. When a man speaks something that offends another who does not agree, they attempt to define him as being not compassionate, when in reality his statements were based upon a certain belief but not confined to that belief.
Once again let me illustrate. When I say that I believe homosexuality is horrible, do not confine me to that statement. I also believe that homosexuals are loved by God and can be saved just like any other sinner. Just as the world tries to confine us by our statements, so did many of the people who disagreed with Dr. Hyles try to confine him by his statements.
We must understand that we are always going to be misrepresented by those who oppose the truth. Instead of fighting it we must remember that our main cause is to reach the lost for Christ. Do not fear the attacks against our positions, but do not allow these positions to take our eyes off of the big picture of reaching this world for Christ.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

THE EMPTY NEST SYNDROME

A Pastor’s Life After the Children Are Grown



Dr. Hyles was a good example in many areas. Mrs. Gray and I have been married for 51 years.  As we were facing the empty nest syndrome we wanted to make certain that we entered these new years with the right mindset. As always Dr. Hyles was a great help to us. 

One of the most neglected areas for those who followed Dr. Hyles was missing some of the comments that he would make in sermons and Bible studies that gave us a little one sentence philosophy. He was the master at inserting a truth that could be applied to different areas of our lives. Such was the case in regards to this subject. He gave us glimpses of differences that transpired after his children were gone.



For some marriages this can be a very difficult time. In fact many divorces take place after the children are grown. Pastor’s homes are no different. He must prepare he and his wife for this new era in their lives. Although I emphasize the pastor, these principles could apply to all couples. As I study his teaching here are some of the thoughts and ideas I learned from him.



1. As the children grow older allow them to withdraw from you and you from them. Dr. Hyles often taught this philosophy. It is natural for a child to drift away from the parents. A parent should allow that drift and embrace it themselves. They should drift with the child in order to prepare themselves for life after the child has left home. This transition time helps prepare them as well as you.
2. Allow this time of transition to be used to enhance your marriage relationship. Rather than waiting until the child is gone, it is wise to begin new practices with each other, even before the children have left home. Rather than sitting around grieving over a child not being present, he suggested changing habits for those times. Those changes begin to prepare you for life after your children have left your home.
3. Embrace the time when you and your wife are together alone. Dr. and Mrs. Hyles enjoyed some of their happiest years together after the children left. Without distractions they were able to spend more time together. They embraced and cherished this time in their lives. They did not sit around waiting for the kids to come visit. They enjoyed the new opportunities they could enjoy together.
4. Give the children space after they have left home. When Dr. Hyles children left home he allowed them to be their own adults. He gave them space to live their lives. Mrs. Gray and I learned from this and did the same thing. We wanted our children to feel that we were there for them but not overbearing to them. We made ourselves available but we did not make ourselves pests. 
5. After the children were gone Dr. Hyles allowed Mrs. Hyles to be more visible in the ministry. Although Mrs. Hyles never was seen as an “assistant pastor” type of wife, when the children were gone he encouraged her to take more active roles. In her case she taught more at the college after the children were grown and gone. She spoke more in churches after they were grown. He spoke more of her after the children were grown. Before, he was guarding her privacy. After, he was more comfortable talking about her publicly. By the way, he always honored her wishes in regards to this. Many husbands speak out of turn about their wives and do not take into account the potential hurt that it causes. He was careful to honor her wishes when it came to speaking of her publicly. When the children were at home, the wife’s main focus is the family, but afterwards she can expand that role.
6. Before the children were grown the emphasis was on the family, but afterwards it was on the marriage. Some pastors failed to make this transition. Brother Hyles did not try to keep his children as part of his own identity after they were grown. He promoted the marriage aspect more than the family aspect. This also allowed the children to branch out to be their own families. Mrs. Gray and I became more visible as a couple after the children were grown than we had been before. 
7. Once the children were grown, he did not seek to control their behavior, rather to influence it. He knew that his children had to make their own choices. He also knew that while they were living with him he had to insist upon certain types of behavior. In other words he “ruled his house well” while his children were there. Once his children were gone it was no longer his responsibility to make their choices for them. He used the power of influence rather than the power of control.
8. He changed his pace as he grew older. This is something that many pastors struggle to do. I was forced to retire, not because I was burned out, but because of my responsibility to my wife. Her health demanded that I give her more time and attention and I gladly did so. However, some men retire rather than changing their pace. Dr. Hyles took more time off as he grew older to spend with Mrs. Hyles. He still worked hard, but he knew that he needed to pace himself differently. Most of us could not have kept up with his slowed down pace, however, if you study him carefully you will see that he did change his pace, which is why he did not feel the need to retire.
9. He developed traditions that involved only he and Mrs. Hyles. Some couples try to keep alive all the traditions they enjoyed while their children were growing up. They want to treat holidays and birthdays all the same as they used to. He and Mrs. Hyles developed their own traditions. If the children wanted to share these events with them that was fine, but they had already developed traditions that prevented a void in their lives. Many couples spend Christmas lonely because they want to relive the past. He chose to live in the present and make new traditions for he and Mrs. Hyles to enjoy without the children. If your happiness is dependent upon your children, then you will be a very unhappy empty-nesters.
10. He did not interfere in their lives. This is not easy for a parent, but it is important. He did not give them advice unless questions were asked of them. He did not snoop into their private business. He let them live their lives without his interference. In other words, he let them grow up and be adults. As our children got older we followed this example by allowing them to have privacy in their own lives. I am there for my children if and when they need me, but I refuse to interfere without being asked.
11. He allowed them to be different. We all want our children to live the way we always lived, but that is impractical. They will make different choices. Do not make them feel that your relationship with them is contingent upon them doing everything exactly the way you always did. Let them be their own individuals. Allow them their own identities. Be comfortable with the differences.
These are a few things that I learned from observation as well as paying attention to his teaching. There are things that made a difference in the way we lived our lives post children. I did not ride off into the sunset and live my life vicariously through my children. Mrs. Gray and I chose to live our own lives. In other words, we kept on living even after our children were gone.
Dr. Hyles experienced some disappointments with his adult children, as most of us do. When asked how he was able to stay strong in spite of these disappointments, he replied, “I never lived my life for my children. I lived my life for my Saviour. Every decision I made regarding my children was for His sake. Even when my children fell short of what I wished for them, my Saviour never did. I refuse to be disappointed when I know that God has never failed me. My children do not determine my happiness. They can enhance my happiness. But, my joy is in the Lord.”