by Bob Gray Sr.
There is not a day that does not pass that I do not receive a phone call from a young pastor asking for help and wanting to know why he can’t get his church to win souls and grow. They always bring up the giants of the faith of the past and ask, “What was the difference?”I am going to give you in this article ONE reason or ONE attribute of these giants of the past generation had that IS MISSING today.
May I please as an old man, whose 44 years of ministry is behind him, help you young leaders?
I have done my part and will continue to win souls and help churches. I will finish out my life doing my best to help the next generation to learn from the previous generation. That generation just happened to be the most successful preachers for the cause of Christ of any generation. I have books to write, articles to write, churches to help, and conferences to preach. My desire to teach Biblical principles I learned from the giants of the past. Here is ONE of those Bible principles those men of God possessed.
Many years ago Dr. Hyles began to support and promote a ministry he felt was of great benefit. He raised untold sums of money to help this ministry. In addition, he committed a large sum from his church to support this ministry on a monthly basis.
There came a time when Dr. Hyles felt he could no longer fully align himself with this man. He did not think it was a bad ministry, but he was concerned about some important matters regarding the leadership. I know. I was there in the meetings when he tried to persuade him to make adjustments that would allow them to continue in their current relationship.
Dr. Hyles was not angry with him. He was not hateful towards him. He did not threaten him in any way. He merely discussed with him the concerns that he had. However, I saw the man become indignant and defiant towards Dr. Hyles.
The conclusion of the meeting was that there should be a certain parting of the ways. Dr. Hyles no longer had him speak for him, nor did he speak with him. The one thing that he did not do was harm the man or his ministry. He did not believe the ministry was a bad thing. He merely had to make the choice that he felt was right. He still deeply loved the man.
What was interesting to me was the fact that he never told his church nor did he announce it in Pastor school or publicly. He continued to financially support that ministry exactly as he had in the past. Dr. Hyles had given his word and his word he would keep regardless. He did not want to hurt what help that man could be to others.
That surprised me, so I asked Dr. Hyles his reasons. His answer was fascinating to me. He said, “Dr. Gray, this was my mistake, not his. The things that separated us were already there before, but I did not see them. It would be wrong of me to punish him for my mistake. Why should he suffer? That is the reason why I cannot take away the money that I committed to him. I love him. I would rather lose money than break my promise to him.” Amazing!
On another occasion, Dr. Hyles promoted a man within his own ministry to an administrative position. With that position came a higher salary, a car and housing allowance, and a few other financial benefits. The man failed miserably in the position. He was not suited to be an administrator. Dr. Hyles eventually removed him from that position and used him to teach in the college.
The man had not done anything morally wrong. He simply was not up to the task. Dr. Hyles continue to provide for the man the same as before. He did not take anything away from him.
Again, his reasoning was that it was his mistake not the men. He did not merely do this for six months, a year or even five years. He continued to pay the man an administrator’s salary until Dr. Hyles died. The man nor his family were ever forced to suffer for Dr. Hyles “mistake.”.
This was the way Dr. Hyles lived his life. He lived by principle. He made decisions based upon taking the high road. He took upon himself the responsibility. He did not want to see these men nor their families suffer. He loved them. It did not matter that they had let him down. He was not going to let them down. It did not matter that may have failed him. Dr. Hyles was going to keep his word.
What mattered was that he was not going to fail them. He was to going to break his word no matter how it hurt. He once said, “I would rather sacrifice all my money than to sacrifice a single friendship.” He also said, “I never fight over money with anyone because money doesn’t mean that much to me. I will keep my word.”
There is an important lesson we all need to learn. This is ONE of the reasons God blessed these giants of the faith of the previous generation. Dr. Hyles did not think of, “I could use this money.” He thought in terms of “I gave my word.”
Sometimes we must make sacrifices out of character. We must do what is not in our best interest because we made a commitment to someone else that is in their best interest. We may lose something in doing what’s right, but we gain so much more because we kept our word and cared about the welfare of another. Don’t think for a second that God is not watching. It is how we handle the “least,” which is mammon, that God looks at FIRST.
These were not isolated incidents. Dr. Hyles always made decisions that were in the favor of others not himself. I know he could have used those monies for other things. However, he felt that it was more important to do what was right than to do what was beneficial to himself.
You may argue, “But, that’s the Lord’s money.” Exactly my point. The Lord expects us to do what’s right and to trust him to make up the difference. That my friend is what we call, “living by faith.”
We do what’s right not based upon the outcome, but based upon the rightness of the decision. We have a God who rewards that kind of behavior. We must trust him to take care of us even when we make a decision that we feel is not in our best interest. However, when you think about it, what is in our best interest is doing right and trusting God to take care of us. A vow or ones’ word is the issue with God not money.
Let me conclude with one last story. When Dr. Hyles came to First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, he followed Dr. Owen Miller an American Baptist pastor. Dr. Miller was a good man, but he was much different than Dr. Hyles. Dr. Hyles transformed the church and many who were loyal to Dr. Miller left the church and caused Dr. Hyles trouble.
They split the church and started a new church called Meadow Lane Baptist Church. What people do not know is that Dr. Miller was involved in helping those people found that new church. A split had occurred. Yet, Dr. Hyles had given his word to Dr. Miller to financially care for the former pastor. Dr. Hyles would keep his word regardless of the split.
There are two parts to the story that needs to be told
Knowing all this, Dr. Hyles lead the First Baptist Church in supporting Dr. Miller for the remainder of his ministry and life. After Dr. Miller died they continued to send the same check to Mrs. Miller until the day she died. He never talked about nor did he announce how sacrificial this was for the church to do, for they had given their word. Dr. Hyles and First Baptist Church did it cheerfully.
But there’s more. Dr. Miller’s dad lived in a house about five houses down from the church. Dr. Hyles bought that house for “Dad” Miller to live in along with Dr. Miller’s sister who cared for “Dad” Miller. They lived in that house for the rest of Dad Miller’s life. After he died the aunt was allowed to stay at that house until her death. By the time Dr. Miller’s father and sister had died the only house that still was standing on that block was the house they lived in.
Even though Owen Miller did not particularly care for the style of ministry of Jack Hyles and even worked against him to a certain degree in helping start another church, Dr. Hyles financially sacrificed to treat those people with love. He knew he was building on another man of God’s labor. However, there’s something even greater about that story. This part we only recently discovered.
The Second Part of the Story
In the past year, Mrs. Beverly Hyles received a letter from the pastor of what was once the Meadow Lane Baptist Church. It was a letter that informed her of something she did not know.
While Dr. Hyles was still living the church, once known as the Meadow Lane Baptist Church, was going to move and needed to sell their building in order to have the money to move to a new location.
Dr. Hyles did not know anything about this, but one day he contacted the pastor of that church. He asked him if he could come to the church and apologize to the people who were still alive from the split for anything he might have said or done to hurt them those 40 plus years ago.
He grieved over the losses they experienced after that young Texan had come in and changed so many things. Dr. Hyles was not apologizing for what he did. However, he wanted to apologize because he was a part of what hurt them.
He then asked the pastor, “What does your church need.”
He said, “Well we need $30,000 to start the new building.”
Dr. Hyles said, “I will give you that $30,000.”
A couple of weeks later the pastor called Dr. Hyles and said, “Dr. Hyles, I have bad news. The people have voted that they do not want to accept your apology, but they voted to accept the $30,000.”
Dr. Hyles said, “That’s fine, I understand. Pastor, where do I send the check for $30,000.”
The pastor said, “Oh no, I don’t expect for you to give that money since the people have rejected your apology.”
Dr. Hyles said, “I didn’t offer the money in order to apologize. I offered the money because I want to do something to express my love to those people for the sacrifices they made when Dr. Miller was their pastor.”
The pastor was emotionally moved by this, but he could not change the minds of the people. Dr. Hyles raised the money himself and sent the check. No one knew.
Are you sitting down? You need to get ready for what I’m about to tell you.
Last year Mrs. Hyles received a letter from that pastor and told her the story. The letter Said, “Mrs. Hyles, I have felt for a long time that the blessings of God could not be upon us because we rejected the apology of your husband. I know he is in Heaven now. But I went before my church and I said that God could not bless us if we cannot forgive him. This letter is to inform you that we as a church except for the apology that your husband offered us.”
At the bottom of that letter in shaky handwriting was the signatures of every living member who had left First Baptist Church some 55 years ago. Well, glory! God is good!
You know what money meant to Dr. Hyles? Nothing! What meant everything to him was loving people. Money was a tool to love people, not a tool to build a ministry. God always provided what the church needed. He left the church debt-free. He left the church with plenty of surplus funds. He never made money the issue. The issue was people because that was what he loved most and the keeping of his word.
Young leader, you have just read ONE of the reasons God blessed Jack Hyles, Lee Roberson, Lester Roloff, Curtis Hutson, John R. Rice, and many others.