(To read about who Adrian Rogers was, see here.)
Adrian Rogers was my mentor mostly from afar. It was only in the last years of his life that I had the joy of being with him up close and personal. I will never forget when he preached in chapel at SEBTS. That was the last time he spoke in a seminary chapel before his death. He spent two hours with me in our home after lunch. He greatly encouraged me by telling me he had prayed that I would be president of Southeastern, and that he was very proud of me. I cannot overstate what that has meant to me these past years.
Reflecting on lessons I learned by watching him for almost 30 years would take a book in itself. However, let me highlight several things that have greatly shaped my life and approach to people.
1) He taught me the importance of staying in love with Jesus. Dr. Rogers was a Jesus-intoxicated man who never got over the wonder of his salvation. He loved our Savior and it showed.
2) He taught me how to love Charlotte. Next to Jesus, no one doubted whom Adrian Rogers loved most: it was his wife Joyce. His public displays of love and affection for his lady were appropriate and affectionate.
3) He taught me how to love well my children. Adrian Rogers is greatly admired and loved by his children. Why? Because they knew of and experienced his deep love for them. To hear his children talk about him causes me to long for similar words from my own sons.
4) He taught me how to treat others. Dr. Rogers always made time for others. It did not matter who they were. The last time he was at SEBTS impressed this truth on me in a manner that has left an imprint on my life. Following his message in chapel, people lined up by the dozens to speak to him. I knew this would happen. This started at about 11:00am. At 11:45am the line was still long. I went to Joyce to gain her assistance in graciously pulling him away. I should have listened more carefully when she said, “If you want to get him then go ahead. I am staying here!” Not listening, I walked up and touch his arm and attempted to begin nudging him away. I will never forget what he said. Gently but firmly, he quietly said, “Little Danny, when I am ready to leave I will let you know.” In the voice of a squeaky mouse I responded and said, “OK,” then scurried back to a pew and sat there like a little boy who had just got his knuckles rapped with a ruler! At 12:15pm I walked back up as the last person in line approached. It was a small grey-headed lady probably somewhere in her 80’s. She approached Dr. Rogers and said, “I have heard you preach for years but I never thought I would get to meet you. I just want to touch your cheek.” She, with a shaking elderly hand reached up and placed that wrinkled hand on the cheek of this great servant of Christ. He gently placed his hand over hers, bent over, and gave her a kiss on her cheek. With sweet tears running down her face she turned and walked away. As she did, Adrain looked at me and said, “Now we can go.” Words are not adequate to express the lesson he taught me that day.
5) Finally, Dr. Rogers taught me how to finish well. Though his death was somewhat unexpected and all too soon, he finished as he ran—with compassion, conviction, grace, humility, kindness and love. He finished joyful, not bitter; sweeter not meaner. Who he was on the inside shined all the more brightly as he approached the finish line. I want to finish like that too.
I have restricted this blog to personal lessons I learned from Adrian Rogers. Next time I post about him, I will share what I learned from him as a preacher and pastor. He was a model for all of us in many ways.