About Dr. Charles SiburtFormerly ACU’s vice president for church relations, Dr. Charles Siburt also served as associate dean for ministry programs and services, O.L. and Irene Frazer Professor of Church Enrichment, director of the Doctor of Ministry program, and director of the Center for Church Enrichment. He joined the ACU faculty full time in 1988 and died in July 2012.
“I have rarely known any person who was more attuned to God’s calling for him than Charlie. His God-given ministry skills, blended with a personality that could be tender or tough as the occasion demanded, made him one of the greatest servant leaders I have ever known,” said Dr. Royce Money, ACU chancellor and executive director of the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry. “ACU was the perfect place for him to establish his base for ministry outreach to countless people and churches.”
Siburt was a respected churchman who committed his personal and professional life to understanding the complex needs of congregations struggling with communication, conflict resolution, administration, and leadership training. He was a beloved mentor and father figure to countless numbers of students, providing encouragement and counsel long after they transitioned into ministry.
He led ACU’s popular ElderLink Forum program since its inception in November 2000, as well as sabbatical retreats for hundreds of ministers and spouses through the university’s Ministers Support Network, both designed as proactive and restorative services for church leaders.
Siburt earned an associate’s degree from Lubbock Christian University, bachelor’s and M.Div. degrees from ACU, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He did post-graduate studies at Colorado State University, The University of Texas at Tyler and The Menninger Foundation, and was a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
He served as a minister to Churches of Christ in Imperial, Lingleville, Austin (University Avenue), and Tyler (Glenwood), Texas; and Fort Collins, Colo. (Meadow-Lark). Siburt also served as interim preaching minister for Abilene’s Highland Church of Christ from 1990-91 and Lubbock’s Broadway Church of Christ in 1989.
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. And if you remember a “Charlie-ism” that’s not on this list, please email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- “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.”
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