Retreat Reflections


This is a long post, so settle in…

For those of you who read this outside the ministry world, I probably need to help you capture how fortunate I was to be here this week.  You would know how I feel if…

If you were a golfer and got to spend 4 days with Jack Nicklaus.

If you were in management and got to spend 4 days with Jack Welch.

If you were in the news business and got to spend 4 days with Tom Brokaw.

You get the idea.  Bob Russell may be the most respected pastor in all of America.  He definitely is if you think in terms of those recently retired.  I told Bob last night that through listening to his seminars and staying in touch with Southeast Christian Church, he’s shaped my ministry…

-I do weddings in the format I do because I heard him suggest making the sermon centered around the vows.

-One of my favorite phrases to use in review of our sermons on Sunday or working with an intern preparing a message is “Apply the Bible to Monday, not to Sunday”.  That’s probably the best advice I ever was given in teaching and it came from Bob.

-I’ve heard him talk about being disciplined in your schedule as a church grows, making sure you still give time to sermon prep when everyone wants a piece of your time since teaching is where you get the chance to touch everyone.  He said, “If I keep saying yes to one person, I’ll start saying no to 10,000.”  (OK, for me it’s only 1000, but I find the same struggle!)

I could share a dozen more just off the top of my head, but last night we were sitting in his living room with his wife and three things struck me that will shape me for the next 30 years…And these apply to everyone (not just pastors).

1.  Humility.  Bob’s church ran 18,000 people when he retired last year.  The type of home he lives in, the car he drives, the way he gives credit to God and everyone else are all examples of his most attractive of qualitites — true humility.  Other pastor’s write books about how they have led their church to growth.  Bob’s book about Southeast is called “When God builds a church”. 

2.  Integrity.  In moral practices.  In financial practices.  In treating people fairly.  In letting your “yes be yes”.  It oozes.  Anyone can embody these values for a season of life, the inspiring part to me is that Bob has modeled them for a lifetime.  He was very authentic with us about temptations he faced, which was helpful also.  Nothing can give you credibility like living a life full of integrity.

3.  Family First.  Bob and Judy have 2 sons that are both Christ-followers today.  What could be more important?  Bob said things were always busy, but in spite of meetings, travel and other demands he scheduled the key stuff with his wife and kids first and forced other things to adjust around that.  Judy talked about how even when things were challenging they would never talk negatively to the kids about the church or the demands it placed on Bob.

Powerful stuff.  Thanks to our Suncrest staff, elders, and others who made it possible for me to come to this at such a busy time of year.

~ by Greg Lee on December 13, 2007.

2 Responses to “Retreat Reflections”

  1. We had Bob come to one church I served, before the message he wanted some time to prepare so I let him use my office. I’ll never forget his comment afterwards: “You have the cleanest desk for a Youth Pastor I have ever seen.”

  2. I don’t think Doug’s basement desk is that clean, thanks to Rocky the Squirrel’s untimely visit!

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