"Charlie-isms"

As a vital part of Dr. Charles Siburt’s legacy, there is an interesting and informative list of “Charlie-isms” - sayings that Charlie liked to repeat. Some are original with Charles, while others are adaptations of others’ brilliance, insight, and wit in the sometimes bewildering world of church ministry. Below are some of the best ones. They are not necessarily direct quotes, but the point is pretty clear.

  • “Grace is not a free pass from having to grow up.”“The final work of grace is to make us gracious.” [an adaptation from Fred Craddock’s quote]
  • “Telling people the truth is part of loving them.”
  • “Most of our wounds are self-inflicted.”
  • “The church will never take you more seriously than you take yourself.”
  • “The greatest point of leverage you have in ministry is to become a healthier self.”
  • “Techniques and programs do not work. Only people work. There is no quick fix in ministry.”
  • “Ministers carry most of their problems with them in their luggage.”
  • “Play to your strengths. You will never excel in the areas that are outside your giftedness.”
  • “You cannot preach powerfully to people if they don’t trust you love them.”
  • “The truth is your friend.”
  • “Reality is your friend.”
  • “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt!”
  • “There is no way to modulate the human voice so as to make whining an acceptable sound.”
  • “You have a choice: you can manage the problem or you can be managed by the problem.”
  • “Do you want to preach right or preach well?”
  • “Anything that is mentionable is manageable. It’s the stuff we won’t talk about that gets us.”
  • “Secrets kill families and churches.”
  • “Manage yourself!”[After listening to a minister’s sad story of his circumstance, Charlie would often say]
  • “When exactly are you planning on working on yourself rather than trying to get everyone else to change?”
  • “Whoever dispenses the information controls the reaction to it.”
  • “If a preacher needs to cast a vote in an elders’ meeting to have influence, then he has already lost.”
  • "Watch out for the people in a church who are the most eager to be your closest friends. They likely have an agenda they hope you will carry for them. If you won’t, they can flip on you in a heartbeat.”
  • “The problem with [name] is that he can’t manage himself!”
  • “Conflict is like rolling around in the mud with a pig; you both get dirty, and the pig enjoys it!”
  • [In defense of a minister he really liked, he would call his name and then say] “Is there anybody in [minister’s location] that I need to come and hurt?”
  • [At a low point in a minister’s life, he would often say] “OK...you think it is over, but it is NOT.”
  • When Charlie would say, “How are you, my friend?” you knew he really wanted an honest answer.
  • “In Christ, the worst things are never the last things.”