A Father’s Legacy
About the Guest
Installed at age 17 to pastor his father's church after his sudden passing, Pastor H.B. Charles tells about his father's profound influence that continues to inspire him today.He admits he was a handful and discusses how his father masterfully disciplined his will without breaking his spirit.
Installed at age 17 to pastor his father’s church after his sudden passing, Pastor H.B. Charles tells about his father’s profound influence that continues to inspire him today.
A Father’s Legacy
Bob: Someone has said that the lessons our children learn from us, as parents, are more caught than taught. Pastor H.B. Charles says he caught a lot from watching his own father.
H.B.: To sit and watch my father weep in worship while hymns were being sung still has an impact on me. The things that made him laugh, the things that made him cry, watching him forgive. There are times I had seen my father say to someone, “I was wrong; I should not have said that.” So many of those things I learned, not merely from his formal teaching and instruction, but by his example. I was just a kid that just wanted to be with him all the time. I feel like I’m still learning from him to this day.
Bob: This is a special live edition of FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 16th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.
In front of a live studio audience today, we’ll hear from Pastor H.B. Charles as he talks about the impact his father had on his life, and the impact all fathers can have on the lives of their children. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We have a guest joining us today, Dennis, who our studio audience—we don’t always have a studio audience, but today we do—our studio audience had a chance to hear this guy a couple of nights ago, Valentine’s week, of the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise. He did a great job; didn’t he? [Applause]
Dennis: Yes. H.B. Charles, Jr., joins us—H.B., good to have you on the broadcast.
H.B.: Thank you. It’s a joy to be here.
Dennis: We’re going to ask you, right off the bat, to save you having to explain it. H.B. stands for what?
H.B.: Absolutely nothing. [Laughter]
Dennis: You’re not hiding anything with H.B.
H.B.: Not hiding anything; nope. My father was named H.B. Charles—he did it to me, and I did it to my son. [Laughter]
Bob: Did you ever ask your grandparents what prompted them to just give initials?
H.B.: My father was an older man; and so, on my father’s side, I never met my grandparents.
Bob: And he didn’t know why he was only H.B.?
H.B.: He did not know.
Bob: Just—that’s what he was?
Bob: And that’s what you are, and that’s what your son is.
Dennis: Well, we’re going to talk about your dad, here, in a minute, but I just want our audience to know who you are. You are the pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida—married to Crystal for how many years?
H.B.: Eighteen years now.
Dennis: Glad you got that right—and three children.
Dennis: You’ve written a number of articles about lessons your dad taught you. I’ve been looking forward to talking with you about this. Bob knows this—this is one of my favorite subjects—to talk about the impact of fathers on sons.
I’m going to ask you a question that totally causes Bob to short-circuit, but you can handle it; okay?
H.B.: Oh boy.
Dennis: You had your dad with you for 16 years until his death.
H.B.: Yes, sir.
Dennis: If you could just keep one memory of your dad in those 16 years, what memory would you keep and why?
H.B.: I’d just think of what comes to my mind. There are many things flooding my thoughts right now—were just the conversations—where I think he listened as I asked questions about everything. As a person who came to Christ, as a boy, I had a lot of questions about the Bible. He listened, and it just feels like my time with my father was one extended conversation—advice he gave me, the way he communicated truth to me, the fact that my father told me, “I don’t know,” at times.
I feel like those things helped shape me.
Dennis: Your dad had—he was a remarkable man—I just read what you wrote about him. He pastored for 40 years; right?
H.B.: Yes, sir.
Dennis: And your dad allowed you to preach at his church. Tell them the first time that your dad allowed you to preach at his church.
H.B.: Sure. So, I professed faith in Christ, as a boy. As a boy, I felt a call to preach. My father was so against this—he did not want me to preach, because my father was a preacher. He did everything he could to discourage me. At the age of 11, he finally permitted me to “preach” at the end of the youth choir musical—they would give me a few minutes. And to hedge his bets, he wrote the message for me. [Laughter]
But I had been writing my own message on Daniel 3 and the three Hebrew boys. He wrote a story about Jesus passing by the blind man. They thought that, if they gave me these five minutes, they’d get this out of my system and they wouldn’t have to hear— but I came to preach that night! [Laughter]
Dennis: —at 11 years of age.
H.B.: Oh, at 11 years of age. I had the main script my father wrote for me—I read the first paragraph—and at the end of the paragraph said, “Jesus is passing by.” I read that—you know, in the culture I grew up, there were “Amens.” So, there was this pause; and I had a natural break. After they stopped amen-ing and stuff, I said, “You know, He passed by for the three Hebrew boys one day,” [Laughter] and went on and preached my sermon on the three Hebrew boys; yes.
Dennis: So, what did your dad say?
H.B.: Oooooh, I got a grave fussin’-out. [Laughter] But he encouraged—he was grateful that there was a call for my life.
Bob: H.B., I would think a dad, who’s pastored his church for 40 years—his son comes to him at—I don’t know how old you were / seven, eight, nine years old—you come and you say, “I think I’m called to preach,”—I would think a dad would be delighted with that news.
H.B.: No. When I say he tried to discourage me, he was very, very grateful; and his hope was that, one day, I would succeed him.
Bob: So he tried to—
H.B.: He wanted to make sure that it was the Lord calling me.
Bob: It was not a carnal call—it was a spiritual call on your life.
H.B.: Yes, sir.
Bob: And after you preached about the three Hebrew boys, did he affirm that there was some gifting there?
H.B.: Yes; yes.
Bob: And that’s when he started to put some fuel behind what you were trying to do.
H.B.: Yes, sir.
Bob: Let me jump ahead to Father’s Day weekend of 1989.
H.B.: You were 16 years old; right?
H.B.: Yes, sir.
Bob: And you were preaching a youth retreat out of state.
H.B.: Yes, sir.
Bob: Tell us what happened.
H.B.: So, my father wasn’t feeling well the weekend I was going to preach in Detroit—a youth meeting / six days. The day before I was to leave, I went to see him in the hospital. It was the only time in my life my father had been in the hospital—it was such a shocking thing. I just remember I was just overwhelmed and began to cry. My dad was like: “Son, you can’t be crying. They brought you here to cheer me up.” I just remember that good time I had with him.
I got on the plane. The next day—that Sunday night, he called me after my first day of preaching. He wanted to know how the day went. Just hearing his voice, I just became overwhelmed again. I told him, “I’m ready to come home now!” He reminded me I had six more sermons to preach before I could come home.
H.B.: He said, “Son, I want you to do an old man a favor.” He says, “Be a man and preach.” I said, “Yes, sir,” and he said, “No, son. Promise me you’ll be a man—preach.”
I did—I promised him. We exchanged “I love yous” and goodnights. That was the last time I ever talked to my father. The next weekend, as I was flying home from Detroit—back to Los Angeles—the Lord called my father upstairs from labor to his final reward.
Dennis: You absorbed that, emotionally—the loss of your father—but it wasn’t long before the congregation that your dad had pastored for 40 years turned around and asked you to do something. What did they ask you to do?
H.B.: Yes; so a little more than a year later, at the age of 17, I went to the church service—to the church meeting, I should say—to see who would be the next pastor of my dad’s church. In that meeting, they extended a call to me to be the pastor of that church, at the age of 17.
I have a 17-year-old son. I really don’t trust him to watch the goldfish in his room, much less pastor a church. [Laughter] So, this is not something I would recommend; but in the providence of God, this is my testimony.
Dennis: You’ve had a while to look back on this.
H.B.: Yes, sir.
Dennis: I mean, you’ve now been a pastor for how many years?
H.B.: I started with that church for 18 years. I’ve been at the church I am now for 8 years.
Bob: I’m told a story—and I haven’t verified this with you to find out if it’s true or not—but I am told that you would preach on Sunday mornings. What did you do on Sunday nights? If you weren’t preaching, what did you do?
H.B.: Yes. So, if I may very quickly say—early in my pastorate, charismatic stuff started rising. I didn’t know—this was new for our church.
H.B.: So, I am thumbing through Moody magazine—the old Moody magazine—
Bob: I remember it.
H.B.: —and I see an advertisement for a book on Charismatics by John MacArthur. I bought that book / read that book and began to devour everything I could by Dr. John MacArthur.
And I don’t know—at some point, I looked at the back of the book. It dawned on me where he was; and he was just on the other side of the hill, over the 405 freeway. I found out where his church was in Sun Valley, California. On Sunday nights, I’d be sitting in the back of John MacArthur’s church, learning theology and learning how to preach.
Bob: I had some people who wanted to know: “Were you just getting next week’s sermon?”— [Laughter]—whatever he preached, you’re going to do next week. But you were getting a Masters class in preaching technique as you listened to how he exegetes Scripture.
H.B.: Yes; absolutely.
I was learning theology. I was learning how to teach in a way to connect Scripture with Scripture; and I was learning—for a term that is being more used now—text-driven preaching.
H.B.: He just was working his way through the text. When his time ran out, he was like, “I’ll pick it up next week.” I had not heard that.
Bob: That’s not what you started with, as a preacher; but it’s what you gravitated toward.
Bob: Why is that still the approach that you take as you preach at Shiloh in Jacksonville?
H.B.: So, I believe, regardless of the chapter divisions, you have to put 2 Timothy 3:16-17 together with 2 Timothy 4:1-2. The call to preach the Word is resting on the foundation of the fact that “All Scripture is breathed out by God; and it is profitable for rebuke, instruction, exhortation, training in righteousness.”
If this Bible is the God-breathed Scriptures, then why in the world are you running around somewhere else looking for something to say? I am convinced the Bible is the Word of God; and in my teaching and preaching, I want to best let the text speak.
If I may tell a brief story—
H.B.: My installation, at the age of 17—two very interesting stories. At the end of that service, a note came up from an usher that said to Dr. E. V. Hill, who led my installation, that: “You have to let this service out.” The usher was my vice-principle. She wrote to Dr. Hill: “You need to let this service out. H.B. has to be at school in the morning.” [Laughter] That was my installation service. [Laughter]
Dr. E. V. Hill preached a message at my installation service that he called—as only Dr. Hill can [imitating Dr. Hill’s voice]: “What Can That Boy Tell Me?”—“He’s only 17 years old. What can that boy tell me when my marriage is in trouble?”
“What can that boy tell me when my child is going astray?” For 45 minutes, he worked through passages in the Old and the New Testaments that affirm the sufficiency of Scripture and ended by declaring that: “He can tell you whatever the Word of God tells him to.” [Applause]
H.B.: I’ve been pastoring 26 years / preaching 30 years. I’ve been married 18 years / I am blessed with three children; but in the midst of all of that, people on Sunday morning don’t need my advice / they don’t need my experience. Thank God for my testimony, but it carries no authority. The authority is in the Word of God. I just want to be a mouthpiece for the text and let God’s Word speak.
Bob: How many times, do you think, in the last 20 years / 26 years, you’ve wished you could pick up the phone and call your dad and say: “Dad, help. I have a question”?
H.B.: Yes; often. I think of my dad a lot. I remember—the amazing thing is I feel like, even though I had him 16 years, if you asked me the most influential person in my life, it is still him. I feel like I am still learning from the things he taught me, from—my father was a strong man—my father—to sit and watch my father weep in worship, while hymns were being sung, still has an impact on me. The things that made him laugh / the things that made him cry—watching him forgive. There are times I had seen my father say to someone: “I was wrong. I should not have said that.” So many of those things I learned, not merely from his formal teaching and instruction, but by his example. I was just a kid that just wanted to be with him all the time. I feel like I’m still learning from him to this day.
Dennis: And there’s a reason for that. One of the things you wrote about your dad was that he raised you like he was training a racehorse.
H.B.: Yes. [Laughter]
Dennis: So I don’t think he’d be surprised today that you’re lapping lap after lap and still running to win.
H.B.: Sure; yes.
Dennis: How did he train you like a racehorse? Comment on that.
H.B.: Yes; so, there were times where I just wanted to teach and I wanted to serve. There would be instances where I did not handle something right, and my dad would march me into a meeting and make me apologize. Then, he would—sometimes, after a message—and he would say to the church, “Pray for me,”—not referring to me—to him—he said, “I need you to pray for me as I’m dealing with H.B.”
He says, “It’s a challenge dealing with him, because I am trying to raise a champion horse.” As a young man, all I heard was him calling me a horse; and I was saying, “What?!” But he said—
Dennis: —a champion.
H.B.: —a champion horse. He says, “The challenge is that I’m trying to discipline his will without breaking his spirit.” It took me a long time to get the magnitude of that.
Bob: For ten years after your father died, every Father’s Day, you would not preach a Father’s Day sermon.
H.B.: I would not. In that regard, grief is elusive. I thank God for the memory of my father, and the legacy of my father, and my time with my father, and that Father’s Day—it would just be rough / rough for me. The church never put pressure on me—they understood.
Then, having a son had an effect upon me. I remember preaching, maybe ten years into my pastorate, my first Father’s Day sermon, which was a topical sermon, which I don’t really—I’ve never really preached that often / I start with the text, not with the topic. But I preached a message entitled “A Father’s Desire for a Godly Legacy.” I built the message around my funeral. There are people giving remarks, and my son comes to give remarks—and what I hope my son will be able to say about me. The three things / the three major movements of the message were that I hope my son will be able to say that: “My daddy loves Jesus unconditionally,”—that: “”My daddy loved my mother unconditionally,”—and that: “My daddy loved me unconditionally.”
That was a part of, I think, a healing process that was important, at the time, for me.
Dennis: Well, Bob knows that, occasionally, I’ve done this on FamilyLife Today. I don’t do it often, but I’d like to hear you give a tribute to your father. Let’s say—for 120 seconds, we could seat your dad right there. You could look him in the eye and thank him, as your daddy, for what he meant to you, as his son.
H.B.: Sure; wow.
Dennis: Would you be willing to try that right now?
Dennis: There are some people listening right now who need to hear how a father did it right—not perfectly—but how a father did it right.
Dennis: And just address your dad with what you called him.
Dad, the first thing I would just say is: “Thank you for the time that you gave me.”
With as busy as you were with your ministry, inside and outside of our church, I never felt in competition with the other things that you did. I always felt like I was a priority. Even within the midst of those things, you just let me tag along to be with you.
I want to thank you for the fact that you led me in a way that reflected that you had great expectations for me. You didn’t try to corner me into what I would become, but you generally pointed me in the direction with the confidence that God was going to do something great in my life, and gave me freedom to try and freedom to fail.
I never questioned that you loved me; because you were man enough to tell me, with tears in your eyes, that you loved me and that I was a gift from God to you.
And your example—I saw you at your best and felt like, at moments, at your worst—and how you handled those high moments with humility and those low moments with repentance has indelibly marked my life. Your faithfulness to your word—good, bad, or indifferent—are things that I am still learning from and I thank God for.
Dennis: And I don’t know: “H.B., Sr.”—if you’re listening—“but you have to be proud of your son.” He has to be proud of you.
H.B.: Thank you.
Bob: Would you guys thank H.B.? [Applause]
Bob: You know, listening back to that interview—which again, was recorded in front of a live studio audience a few months ago—there’s such power, for good or for ill, in what we do, as parents.
Thank God for His grace; because He does cover a multitude of sins, and He pours grace on a lot of mistakes we make, as parents; but I think, if we are faithful to what He’s called us to, there is blessing in that faithfulness.
As I was listening to our conversation with H.B., I was thinking about the book that you’ve written, Dennis, called The Forgotten Commandment, where you encourage all of us to honor our parents—to keep the fifth commandment no matter what age we are—to speak words of honor / to actively honor our parents through writing a tribute to them.
And of course, too late for anybody to do that in time for Father’s Day this year; but maybe there’s a significant milestone birthday or anniversary, or Christmas this year, or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day next year.
Take the challenge to write a tribute to your parents. Get a copy of Dennis’s book, The Forgotten Commandment, which will help you know how to go through that process. It’ll help you, spiritually, prepare for that assignment and help you execute it with excellence. We have copies of The Forgotten Commandment in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, keep in mind Father’s Day comes up Sunday. Hope all of you will take an opportunity to honor your father if your father’s still living—an opportunity to bless him / to encourage him—and to find a way to honor him for his contribution to your life.
Here, at FamilyLife, our goal is to see every home become a godly home. Part of being a godly home is that there is honor given—there is grace extended / there is forgiveness poured out—in a family. I hope that’ll be the case this weekend as you celebrate Father’s Day.
We want to say, “Thanks,” to all of you who help extend the reach of FamilyLife. Every time you make a donation, you make it possible for us to reach more people with practical biblical help and hope for their marriage and for their family. If FamilyLife has had an impact in your life, help extend that impact to the lives of others by going online and donating at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation. Or mail a donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
And with that, we have to wrap up for this week. Thanks for being with us. I hope you have a great weekend.
I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Dr. Irwin Lutzer will be with us. He recently retired as the pastor at the historic Moody Church in downtown Chicago. He’s joining us to talk about how important it is for all of us to have a clear conscience when it comes to how we live together in our family. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® ministry.
Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs?
Copyright © 2017 FamilyLife. All rights reserved.