I had the unique opportunity of doing a Q & A with Gayle Haggard this week. She is a remarkable woman who shines with the love and grace of God. She recently wrote a book called, Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour, chronicling her and her husband’s story of a scandal that broke in 2006. If you have not read her book, I encourage you to. Renue International read and posted book review which you can read here. Sitting in her lab session at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta I saw a woman who is bold, strong, and confident in God’s faithfulness to restore and heal the broken. I am so thankful for her open, honest answers. These are not the same questions asked to her in other interviews, I wanted to get beyond what “had happened”, and into what “is happening” and what the future holds. I hope you feel more connected and inspired by her words.
St James Church – Local Church Ministry
Tanya: Why did you choose to stay in Colorado Springs?
Gayle Haggard: We chose to return to Colorado Springs in order to finish our story there. We were not willing to let 22 years of positive ministry end or be defined by scandal. We knew the only way to undo that was to live past it. We feel God called us to Colorado Springs 25 years ago and He has not changed that call.
Tanya: What are you doing different and/or the same in this new ministry in comparison to how you and Ted built New Life?
GH: We are keeping it simple – we don’t want to work as hard as we did before. The message is the same albeit seasoned with the wisdom and purification than only a trial by fire can produce.
Tanya: Do you anticipate it to grow like your last church or be smaller – or bigger?
GH: We have no growth expectations. We believe God builds the church and adds people into the body where He wants them.
Tanya: What is your prayer for this church regarding its impact in the community?
GH: My prayer for St James Church is that we would offer hope to the hopeless and hurting and that we would be known for our kindness, compassion, and most importantly our love for one another.
Ministry and Marriage
Tanya: Given your experiences, how would you instruct young couples involved in full time ministry?
GH: I would encourage young couples to learn how to love each other – it’s a process that develops over a lifetime. Give yourselves permission to take time to enjoy each other and to laugh a lot. Don’t be a burden to each other – try to make each others life easier. Life can be hard – choose to be each others safe place. Know that each of you are in a process of growing to maturity that will take a lifetime – choose to journey together and to grow in understanding. Each of you will fail in some fashion – understand that and learn the art of forgiveness and love that covers a multitude of sins.
Tanya: What is the importance of “date nights” in a marriage?
GH: Never put another person ahead of your spouse in your heart. Be the kind of person you would want to be married to.
Tanya: How do you feel about the future of local church ministry in the hands of new young leaders? Are you hopeful? Anxious? Concerned? Why?
GH: I am hopeful as I look to the future of local church ministry in the hand of new young leaders. Although the needs of society seem to be growing increasingly complex, I am confident Jesus is, who is the Head, is more than able to guide this next generation. They need only to stay connected to the Head in sincerity of faith and to not only hear His teachings, but to put them into practice. That is the hope I have for the future of the church.
Tanya: What makes you laugh?
GH: My family- they all have a great sense of humor.
Tanya: What makes you cry?
GH: A person who is suffering.
Tanya: What inspires you?
GH: Early mornings, the changing of seasons, and the teachings of the New Testament.
Tanya: What is the immediate thing you are hearing from God right now in this season of your life?
GH: God is teaching me to love life again, and not to pressure myself or anyone else too much. I remember an old saying “Is it so small a thing to have lived light in the Spring, to have loved, to have laughed, to have done?” I like that. I enjoy not thinking more highly of myself than I ought. Beyond that I do have a sense of purpose for my role in the body of Christ. However, I am now trusting in the fact that His yoke is easy and His burden is light and in the Holy Spirit’s ability to bring to pass His purpose for me.
Tanya: Are you reading any books?
GH: Currently I am reading, Repenting of Religion by Gregory Boyd; a commentary on Romans, and my Bible.
Food? Chocolate ice cream
Flower? I love them all.
Movie? Enchanted April
Date night memory? Sitting and talking for hours over dinner with my husband/ and riding ATV’s to a beautiful and secluded place in the mountains with my husband.
Book? The Bible and Pride and Prejudice.
Tanya: What’s the next 50 years look like for your family and your church?
GH: Even better than the last 5o years!
Questions sent in by others:
Question: How did those stood by your side as you walked through the revelation and aftermath of the disclosure support and minister to you, and how do feel that has played into where you are today?
GH: I was separated from the church and my closest friends.
Question: Leader to Leader – What personal accountability or support system would you recommend leaders of large churches or organizations establish in their lives to help them balance the pressures of leading with internal struggles that are hard to share?
GH: They must find a safe place to openly and honestly deal with their internal struggles. My hope is that we in the church will grow in understanding and maturity in order to be that safe place. In the meantime, however, a licensed counselor can help.
Question: What kind of encouragement and advice would you offer to a wife who’s husband is wresting with a struggle that is similar to what Ted has gone through, and Ted what would you say to that man?
GH: We would counsel them to see a licensed counselor who is a Christian and specializes in their area of difficulty as as well as trauma resolution therapy.
Question: What do you know about mercy now that you didn’t know before?
GH: Before I tried to be as merciful and compassionate as I knew how to be. Now that I know what it feels like to be the person who so desperately needs mercy and compassion – I am more merciful and compassionate toward people’s struggle with their human condition.
For more information and to follow Ted and Gayle’s ministry, family, and schedule visit www.TedHaggard.com.