Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

Greg Laurie, Jack Graham, BBQ, and Me

Interesting dinner the other night after the Engage Conference with pastors Greg Laurie, Jack Graham, Jack’s son Josh, and the Executive Director of Jack’s Power Point Ministries, Scott Seal.  We went to one of my favorite places in the world – Rudy’s BBQ in Frisco, Texas.  If you know me, you know that BBQ is almost a religion, so whenever I’m in Dallas, Jack & Scott take me over to Rudy’s for a fix.

I had done a couple of workshops on branding and media at Engage, and Greg Laurie was the final keynote speaker.  Since Engage is designed for pastors and ministry leaders, Greg taught a fascinating message called “1st Century Communication Principles to Reach a 21st Century Audience.”

But last night at Rudy’s, he also shared very openly and honestly with us about his son’s death a few months ago at 33 years old, and the incredible sense of devastation and loss it had brought to his life.  It was refreshing to hear that kind of brutal honesty about the death of a child.  He didn’t try to offer pat answers or an easy fix.  He didn’t try to spiritualize it.  He just simply opened his heart and admitted just how difficult it had been, how he had questioned God, and how he thinks about it all the time.

We also talked about how well meaning people, in their good hearted attempts to help, say some really stupid things.  Greg mentioned that the moments that had meant the most were simply the times people didn’t say much at all.  They just let him know they were there, they were praying for his family, and they simply listened.   That’s a good lesson I won’t forget.

Greg Laurie is a legendary preacher not just because of his great gifts, talent, and calling.  But he will be remembered because of his brutal honesty and authenticity.  He’s the real thing.  We sat there in that BBQ restaurant and almost cried a few times.  I can’t even come close to imagining what he and his wife have been through these last few months.  But I can tell you this, I’m going to call my daughters in Nashville and New York and remind them just how much I love them.


  1. My heart ached when I woke up that day and heard about Greg's son. 

    Nothing compares to the loss of a child, whether age 7, 17, 27 or 37.  Shortly after losing my son Douglas at age 7 to a frontover, a pastor friend of mine lost his son at age 21.  I saw him shortly after and we exchanged hugs and tears.  I had wished I could have had 21 years with Douglas.  

    I've had conversations with God many times.  I've been challenged by being asked if I knew Douglas was going to die at age 7, would I want those 7 years together or none at all.  Would I be willing to let him go knowing that was all I would have with him.  The answer has always been yes.  While it happened May 30, 2006, it feels like yesterday.

    Cooke Pictures was gracious and extremely helping in getting me home that night and in the weeks that followed.   

    No one is guaranteed another breath, let along another day.  You were smart to call your daughters.  I encourage everyone to never take life for granted, especially your children.



  2. Death puts life priorities back into true perspective to what is really and truly important. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death (or the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning)…, Even though my father passed away 8 years ago we still feel the loss till today – but in a much better way now.

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