The Time Pastors Andy Stanley and Charles Stanley Revealed the Rocky Divide in Their Father-Son Story
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A lifetime of obedience: that's how some are describing Dr. Charles Frazier Stanley who received the call to ministry at the age of 14. In his 65 years as a minister of the gospel, he served as a pastor, author, Bible teacher, and Christian broadcaster.
As CBN News reported, the beloved leader of In Touch Ministries passed away Tuesday at the age of 90.
Dr. Charles Stanley led First Baptist Atlanta for 50 of those years, stepping back from that role in 2020, and becoming pastor emeritus. His son, Andy Stanley, is also well known as the founder of the North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia where he serves as the senior pastor.
The younger Stanley tweeted on Wednesday about his final moments with his father, saying, "As I was leaving his house this past Saturday night, he asked if he could pray for me. As if he knew. Then, as was his habit, he said, 'I couldn’t be prouder of you Andy.' The source of a word determines its weight. Those were wonderfully weighty words. And his final words to me. I’ll miss him every day until I see him again."
These final few weeks with my dad have been precious beyond words. At the end of every visit, he asked me to pray for him. Which of course I did. On my knees beside the big leather chair he was confined to for the past several months.— Andy Stanley (@AndyStanley) April 19, 2023
But as I was leaving his house this past… pic.twitter.com/2gQWeHgtFW
A few years ago, the father and son sat down for a two-part interview together titled Life, Love & Legacy: A Conversation with Dr. Charles Stanley which was posted to YouTube in 2021.
Giving the viewer some background before the interview, Andy explained how before launching North Point Church, he had worked for his father for 10 years.
"It was a rocky transition, to say the least," Andy said. "But my dad and I were both committed to maintaining our relationship despite our differences, and we had many differences."
"Then several years later, I wrote a book entitled Deep and Wide which is essentially the blueprint for how we do ministry in the local church," he explained. "And in the book's second chapter, I actually tell the story in detail of how and why I left my dad's employment, and why it was such a difficult season for both of us."
The senior pastor of the North Point went on to explain how easy it would have been for the relationship with his father to have deteriorated to the point that they would never have reconciled. But Andy revealed, much to his father's credit, that was not the case.
He recalled meeting his father at a restaurant during their "difficult season." Andy recalled, "It was so difficult, honestly, we would meet together because we knew we should and we would just sit there. It was hard for us to even talk."
And on one of those occasions, the elder Stanley broke the ice, he said, "Andy, we have both been around long enough to know what happens to fathers and sons who go through something like this. And I don't want that to happen to us."
"And neither did I," Andy said. "And it didn't.
Charles Stanley's personal life was difficult at times. His father died shortly after he was born, and his mom had to work to support them.
"My father died when I was nine months of age, so my mother had to go to work," the elder Stanley said. "And so I got shifted around from one person to the other keeping me while she worked. And that went on for a number of years."
Dr. Stanley said one thing his mother taught him was to be self-reliant. By the time he would get up in the morning, she would have already left for her job at the mill, so he would fix his own breakfast.
"Well, it was difficult," he said. "But you know my mom taught me how to fry an egg or scramble an egg and toast. And then, of course, after a while, I learned that well enough, so I could just fix me some other things."
"But she taught me to be able to do whatever I needed to do and to trust God that he would help me," Dr. Stanley recalled. "And that's the thing I kept hearing her say: 'Just trust the Lord. Just do what you know is right and trust the Lord.'"
"So she drilled that into my head," he said. "And that I could do whatever I needed to do if I would trust him."
Andy asked his dad how he was able to figure out how to be a good father since he didn't have a father to be a role model growing up.
Dr. Stanley again credited his mother and the respect he had for her. But he said the answer to being a good dad was simple.
"Well, I treated y'all the way I wanted to be treated," he replied. "I think that says it all to me because not having a father and thinking what I would've liked for my father to have done. When I think of all the places we went, I never worried about spending money on you all, just have a good time."
"In other words, it just came natural for me, because I knew that's what a good dad would do," he added.
Watch Part 1 of Andy Stanley's interview with his father Dr. Charles Stanley below:
Andy also spoke about how the elder Stanley would let his sister Becky and himself make their own decisions growing up, and then face the consequences of their decisions. He recalled receiving a traffic ticket and how his father responded. Instead of getting angry, he just said to "take care of it." When Andy asked how? He answered, "It's right there on the back of the ticket."
Andy also recalled how he and his sister would ask their father about a decision they would have to make, and how his father would always say, "Have you prayed about it?"
"And that was so frustrating," he told his father. "Because I'm like, 'I don't need to pray about it. I just need you to help me make the decision.' But you consistently said, 'Ask God and you know whatever you feel like the Lord wants you to do.'"
"Well, I would usually say, 'Lord, now in this given situation, what's the wisest thing to do?' And I knew if I make all of the decisions, and gave you all of the answers, you'd never have to do it yourself," Dr. Stanley explained. "And at some point, and I remember this growing up, I had nobody to ask. There was my mom, but a lot of situations she wouldn't have had the answer for. So I figured if I trusted God to give you wisdom, then I believe that you would listen to Him and do what He said to do."
"Well, I knew that I had taught you the right thing to do," the elder Stanley continued, "in every situation I knew about. And I would trust God to either make you successful at that, or make you so miserable that you wouldn't want to do it again, and it worked."
"It did ultimately work," Andy said. "And I tried to do the same thing with my three kids, so I appreciate that."
He also asked his father about his generosity in the local church.
"So I just realized pretty early, I couldn't out-give God," Dr. Stanley answered. "No matter how much I gave, what the motivation was, I couldn't out-give him. He always blessed me over and over and over again."
The father and son also talked about perseverance with Andy asking his dad how he was able to keep going after all of the problems and challenges he had been through in his life.
"Well, because I believed with all of my heart, if I obeyed God, he'd help me through whatever that was. And I won't get into all of those stories, but time after time after time, I watched God answer my prayers," Dr. Stanley said. "Sometimes I thought, 'Lord you're late. You're getting late.' But he always came through at the right time, no matter what the situation was."
"And one thing also that helped me was, I was excited to see what God was going to do next," he continued. "In the downtimes, I think, 'OK, Lord, I've come this far, I've done what you told me to do. It doesn't look very good, but I'm going to trust you, and I will see what happens.' And without fail, God always brought me through every difficult situation. Some of them looked absolutely impossible. But I thought 'God, you who say you are, I'm going to trust you to prove it.'"
Andy wrapped up the interview by asking his father, "What do you mean when you say the most important thing in your life is your personal relationship with Jesus Christ?"
"We all have different relationships with different people and having a personal relationship with God means I'm connected 24 hours a day to the Creator, to the Savior, to the Lord, the Master, the One who walks with me, provides my needs, gives me joy," Dr. Stanley replied. "Gives me strength to deal with issues in life.
"In other words, a personal relationship with him isn't something that comes and goes when you go to church. You should wake up with him. You go to sleep with him talking to him. You wake up talking to him," he continued. "All during the day you see him in this, see him in that. You're interpreting life from the viewpoint that God has taught you to look at things. And that viewpoint's going to be always scriptural. He'll never tell you to do something that's unscriptural."
"It makes it possible for you to be happy in difficult times, and feeling confident and bold in whatever's going on, you're gonna make it, you'll get through with it," Dr. Stanley explained. "So it provides the foundation for my happiness, my joy."
Watch the second part of the interview below:
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