Johnny Hunt, former President of the SBC and pastor of the highly influential First Baptist Church of Woodstock, has returned to the pulpit a new man after an extended, 11 week absence over the summer. Hunt, who also recently battled cancer, is one of the most gifted communicators in America and a mentor to pastors around the country, if not the world. Many have been inluenced by his leadership, and many have sat under his teaching for a season—including the editors of this website.
In two personal and heartfelt messages delivered to the church upon his return two weeks ago, Hunt describes his journey during the absence through stress attacks, depression, anxiety, exhaustion and burnout, along with his battles with pride. And he admits he almost didn’t return to the pastorate at First Woodstock, having reached a point of “feeling dead” inside as a result of overextending himself for years.
He acknowledges coming to grips with the realization that he didn’t have a problem saying “no”…he had a problem saying “no” to anyone other than his family, and fell into the common evangelical trap of believing he was the only one God could/would use to reach people where invitations had been extended to him.
“I neglected and missed some of the things He [God] wanted me to do because there were some things I really thought were cool for me to do,” Hunt says.
Hunt’s transparency is refreshing, and those who have been through similar darkness will find his two messages from September 19 helpful. We would not normally reference or highlight topics discussed in private church meetings, but since Pastor Johnny has made these messages public via the church’s website to help other people, we in turn want to share these messages with others who might benefit.
We highly recommend these two messages to anyone of any age serving as a pastor, and to anyone in their forties and fifties in general, many of whom may experience something similar in their lives.
We also recommend the book Hunt references in the messages as having had a profound influence on him during this difficult season of life: Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion.
Please continue to pray for the Hunts.