Episode One: The Idolatry of Leadership. There are a flood of ministry resources emphasizing leadership today, but if we’re not careful, we can become well equipped for leading and poorly equipped for pastoring. Kevin is joined by Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC Executive Committee.
Kevin Ezell: Hey Pastor, for the next 41 weeks we’re going to walk together through a book called Replenish and just take a few moments to talk about different leadership items, so we can all grow in leadership. Actually, the very first chapter of the 41 is on leadership, and in Southern Baptist circles, when you think of leadership, really one name comes to mind for sure, and it’s Ronnie Floyd. Brother Ronnie, thank you for being the very first guest we have on this series as we talk about leadership. This first chapter was talking about the idolatry of leadership, and I’d love you to share as you have been a leader, how have you balanced that so that you didn’t become spiritually dry or emotionally empty?
Ronnie Floyd: I think it’s real easy to become motivated as a leader, Kevin, with the to-do list and with the matters that somebody wants you to do with the matters that you feel you must do, to be the leader that you think you’re supposed to be. But, I really think that the heart of it is solved in two ways.
First of all, we need to lead out of our walk with Christ. That is just absolutely imperative. Then we have to be committed to not leadership, but servant leadership. Finding a way to serve someone for the purpose of helping them accomplish their goal. Becoming what God wants them to become. I believe one of the most dynamic things about a leader is to be an empowering leader. I love to empower people. It brings me more joy to watch someone to do leadership than me to lead.
Kevin Ezell: Well, you mentioned something out of your own spiritual walk and just in a personal life, because not many people get to just sit and hang out with Ronnie Floyd, they really don’t. I want to kind of vicariously do that for thousands of pastors. Just knowing you, because we both get up early and you’re one of the few people in the SBC that I can call at 5:30 and know they’ll answer, and you’re central time. Most of these guys don’t know about your schedule, but I know because I know when you have your quiet time and that’s when I know it’s best to call, is right after that if possible. Do you mind just telling those guys when you take out of your own spiritual walk, you do have instances on your own spiritual walk, but tell them what a typical morning, what is a Tuesday morning in Ronnie Floyd’s life look like?
Ronnie Floyd: Well, if Ronny Floyd is not on the road and he’s at home, he’ll be up at three o’clock in the morning.
Kevin Ezell: … and that’s not to go to the bathroom.
Ronnie Floyd: No. Well, I may go to the bathroom. From there I proceed into the quiet room in my office of my home. Then I spend the next hour and a half with the Lord. Some days, maybe a little less, some days, a little bit more, really in the Word of God, the ministry of prayer, intercession, not about sermon preparation, about God, You speak to me. I’m a real proponent to read the Word of God at least one time every year. I’ve done that for almost 30 years. I believe in this deeply, and so, Kevin, that’s the way I began my day, and then I move into sermon prep. I move into the things that all pastors do and that. Usually, I’ll find an hour in the morning, usually about eight or nine, to spend in exercise, and then I don’t really go to the office until just before noon, or my first appointment publicly is typically around noon.
Kevin Ezell: The reason I ask that is because most people see you publicly, but they don’t see you privately and the hours that you spend… you’ve been… I’ve known you for some time, and you’ve been religiously committed to that time in the morning for years.
Ronnie Floyd: Long time, it was early 1980s, I was at an evangelism conference and Dr. W. Criswell preached the closing message that night. I remember him telling thousands and thousands of us that were there in Reunion Arena in Dallas, it was jam packed. He said, “All of you pastors need to learn to give your mornings to God.” You know, Kevin, I was young, eager, didn’t know a lot, but I knew I wanted to follow God. I knew if that man of God said it, it must be important. So I started giving my mornings to the Lord. I’d been walking with Christ in relationship to the quiet time moments and all that, but I’m talking about just I mean, God, I mean, the morning is me and the Lord.
Kevin Ezell: When you read in this chapter one, it has several statistics about they were challenging about pastors that had fallen away, and how many have had affairs, we’ve had so many stories of that.
Ronnie Floyd: Tragic.
Kevin Ezell: Yes, it is, and for decades. It doesn’t look like it’s lining up. When you read troubling statistics like that about pastors, I mean, what is your response? It seems like it all stems out of a lack of personal spiritual time, as you just said.
Ronnie Floyd: Yeah, some studies have shown that, I can’t put my hands are my mind around the exactness of that, but I have read articles about that. I do believe that when I look at what has helped me, and all I could do is talk about what has helped me. I think there are three big practices that have kept me out of those woods.
Number one, begin my day with God. Number two, be committed to up to an hour of personal fitness every day, six days a week anyway, mainly to get your mind off of other matters. I mean, I’m pretty intense guy, as you well know, and I need that cleansing. That replenishes me. Then the third thing is that probably since the mid 1980s, I have tried to take off every Friday of my life to be with my wife.
That’s just something we started, and I did it because I was coming home from a deacon’s meeting one night and my kids were real small, and it was not going to be a good meeting. It was years ago when I was a pastor in Texas, and boy, I tell you what, I was at a stop sign, Kevin, and I looked over at that stop sign. I said, “What am I doing? I’m going to be here tonight. I want to leave my kids, my wife. I am in this grind of meeting after meeting, after meeting,” you know the way church used to be, it was endless. It was endless. It was eternal church. In all that, boy, the Lord just spoke to my heart and said, “Son, this needs to stop.” You know what, I went home that night, I told my wife, I said, “Listen, listen, I’m going to start taking off every Friday. This is going to be our day.” You will endure to the end, we’re going to be saved in this. Not that we were in marital problems, but hey, she was a preschool mom. She needed somebody to love her, to hold her, to care for her, to help her.
All these years, even when I was president of Southern Baptist Convention, I always tried to get that Friday and keep that Friday. It didn’t look like it used to because technology’s messed our lives up as much as helped us. You and I both know that. Boy, I tell you, that’s been transforming.
Kevin Ezell: I appreciate there’s been times I call you on a Friday and in the background hear your grandkids yelling and perhaps a dog barking and just knowing that you do that on a consistent way. Look, Ronnie, I just want to thank you for your time today, but also I want to thank you that it was almost 20 years ago, that you invited about 10 to 12 pastors to invest in them for two or three days. You allowed me to be one of those guys.
Ronnie Floyd: I remember it well.
Kevin Ezell: It was revolutionary in my life and it really was.
Ronnie Floyd: You think about where some of those men are today. I remember you came Hershael York.
Kevin Ezell: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.
Ronnie Floyd: I’d never met Hershael.
Kevin Ezell: Kyle Bowman, several of those guys. I just remember going through some of the challenges I was going through at the time with that church and just being around guys that you can ping things off of. Man, I just want to thank you for investing in pastors that you know, and in my case at that time, pastors you didn’t know. I’m forever indebted for that. Grateful for you.
Ronnie Floyd: You know, Kevin, when you think about Replenish, we each have one of two relationships in our life. Replenishing relationships or deplenishing relationships. When you see them coming, you try to go around. You don’t want to be around that. Pastors need replenishing relationships, with lay people and with other pastors. The real key to being replenished is to prioritize your walk with Christ and your relationships with other people.
Kevin Ezell: Well, thank you for being a replenishing pastor. I appreciate that brother, and a friend too.
Ronnie Floyd: Amen.
Kevin Ezell: Encourage you, hey, next week we’re going to focus on deplenishing pastors. We’re going to have a whole list, the top 10 just air-sucking pastors we could possibly find. We’re going to, listen, the top 10 worst pastors. We’re going to list those next week. so you listen.