Charles Siburt

Charles Siburt has been a friend and mentor to me for almost 25 years. I have learned so much from him. I am a much better man and minister for having known him.

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For many years he taught ministry at Abilene Christian University. His teaching went way beyond the classroom. Charles spent time and energy helping ministers and other church leaders all over the country.

He is very sick and is not expected to live on this earth much longer. He has recently been transported from a hospital in Dallas to a hospital in Abilene. Soon he will be with the Lord.

My friend, Dan Bouchelle, wrote the following:On behalf of all of us who love Charlie, I invite you to join several of us who love the Siburts by setting aside this Friday, February 3, as a special day of prayer with fasting if you choose. Please lift up Charlie’s body, his spirit, and his family to the Father of all compassion. Judy and his sons have sacrificed time with Charlie for the sake of the church for many years. Pray that their final days with him in this age will be enriching. Pray that God will give Charlie courage for his final days and a peaceful trip home. Pray that he will be able to leave the hospital for his final days. Most of all, give thanks for all that God has given us all through Charlie. Pray that God will raise up an Elisha or twelve to pick up Charlie’s mantle. What will we do without him?

Charles and Judy have blessed so many men and women. Charles served as a consultant and friend to the congregations I worked with in Florence, Alabama, Kansas City, Missouri, and Waco, Texas. Each time he helped our leaders become more effective and at times work through knotty problems. I have called him at all hours of the day and evening to talk through frustrations, disappointments and new possibilities. Again and again, Charles helped me become better.

The following are a few of the ways he helped me:

1. He was one of the first ministers to introduce me to serious, thoughtful ministry resources. At one of the very first Austin Graduate School Sermon Seminars, I heard him share resources with the group. (I was in graduate school at ACU.) I was furiously taking notes as he mentioned authors, commentaries, journals, and training opportunities – related to ministry. I went back to ACU and followed up on as many resources as I could.

2. He taught me about the importance of managing myself well. I have spent the last three decades learning about the implications of this. It was Charles Siburt who instilled in me the importance of self-care and being intentional about how I handle myself as a leader.

3. He helped me in each congregation I have served. Each time he came, he helped our church and blessed Charlotte and me.

4.   He told me again and again, in a variety of way is how much he believed in me. I can’t begin to tell you how much his confidence in me has meant. He recommended me to churches and universities and gave me other opportunities to serve. There were times when I called him when I felt discouraged and devalued. He always communicated value, encouragement, and hope.

5. He made himself available and accessible to me. He returned my calls from airports, his office, hotel rooms, and during breaks at out of town conferences. We shared lunches and met in his office on various occasions. The time and energy he invested in me made a difference. So often his words gave me fresh options and a new perspective. What I experienced with him, I now practice with younger ministers.

6. He helped me see the importance of paying attention to the details of others’ lives. So often, I came away from conversations with him amazed at how well he remembered details – children’s names, where they went to college – where an elder worked, on and on. I saw how that practice communicated much to others.

7. He modeled for me a way of being a father. Year ago, I was in his office when he received a call from Judy. He asked about one of the boys and a situation at school (high school, I think). He asked about the situation and mentioned a variety of details related to it. He talked for a moment about how their son was handling it. I came away thinking about how I wanted to be involved and aware like that still when my daughters were that age.

Please especially pray for Charles and Judy on Friday, February 3. For more information, please see this fine post by Dan Bouchelle here. Read Jordan Hubbard’s tribute here. Also note this special Facebook page for Charles and Judy here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Warren Baldwin

    Thanks for this post. I had a class with Charles this summer (my second one). I learned a tremendous amount from him. Your post is a great tribute to Charles, and several of us from church will be joining with in you prayer on Friday on behalf of the Siburts. WB

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks very much Warren. So glad you were able to have a class with Charles this summer. I have learned much from him as well.

  • Wade Tannehill

    I will certainly be praying. What a shock to read this. I did not know Charles as well as you, but he helped me more than he knew through two very difficult ministry transitions. He knew all the right resources including human resources.

    Interesting that you should mention him calling you back from airports. Last time I spoke with him we was on his cell phone at an airport waiting to board a plane. His insight into my situation at the time was extremely valuable and made everything crystal clear. I’m in a much better situation now at yet another congregation that he has helped to find clarity long before I came here.

    And of course, his ministry has continued through the years through you to me and through many others. He will certainly be missed.

    • Jim Martin

      Wade, you mentioned something that Charles does very well. He is so good at bringing clarity to a situation. He has done this for me again and again. So glad to hear of the difference that he has made in your life.

  • Jordan Hubbard

    Thanks for these incredible words. Your reflections about Charles’ legacy in your life ring true to my experience as well. I would like to link this post to my blog.

    • Jim Martin

      Thank you Jordan. Your life and ministry are such a tribute to the impact that Charles had on you.

  • Connie Lard

    Jim, Thanks for letting us know about this. I am grateful to have met Charles Siburt. He made me feel like I was special, even though we met only briefly. He is someone I would like to have known better! I will pray for comfort and peace for him and his family.

    • Jim Martin

      Connie, so glad to hear about the impact that Charles had on you. He has always had a genuine love for people that comes through regardless of where he is. Thanks.

  • johnny davis

    Jim, an excellent tribute to fellow Christian brother, mentor, and professor of ministry. We all pray for him, and ultimately the loss of your resource is so many ways, all good.

    • Jim Martin

      Thank you very much Johnny. I appreciate your words.

  • Tom Holcomb

    Thanks, Jim, for your tribute to Charles. You have spoken for countless numbers of ministers and leaders who were positively influenced by Charles. Like you, I have been one of them for over 30 years. Charlie was everybody’s best friend. We will miss him so.

    • Jim Martin

      Tom, what a great tribute to Charles and the kind of friendship that so many of us enjoyed with him. You said it well, “We will miss him so.”

  • Brad Cox

    Jim,thanks so much for celebrating this great servant of our fellowship, and more importantly for the Kingdom. There is no telling how many lives have been touched indirectly through Charles’ efforts to develop ministers and elders to lead healthy churches. I will miss him dearly. Brad

    • Jim Martin

      Brad, you said it well. There are is not telling how many people have been touched by our friend’s ministry.

  • Mike Riley

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful tribute to a great man. Several years ago Charles did a weekend consultation for our church. We were universally impressed with his love for God, coupled with huge intelligence. I told him then that for someone with very limited eyesight, he was blessed with greater vision than most anyone I’ve ever met. I still believe that. His value as a resource of both information and encouragement cannot be overstated. His work will live long after him.
    I have loved that man dearly, and I will be praying for peace for him and his family.

    • Jim Martin

      Mike, thanks very much! HIs work with ministers and churches has been incredible. He has been used by God to bless so many of us.

  • Kevin Kopsa

    Jim, thank you for your good words that helped me express my own indebtedness to Charles.

    • Jim Martin

      Kevin, thanks very much. I feel indebted as well.