It was one week ago today that my family had the memorial service for my father who passed away on February 3rdIke Reighard, Senior Pastor of Piedmont Church in Marietta, GA, presided over the service.  To many there, myself included, it was the best funeral message we have ever heard.

Ike is an incredible leader.  When he pastored New Hope Baptist Church, it was the fastest growing church in the Southern Baptist Convention.  When he planted NorthStar Church, it became its fastest growing Southern Baptist church plant in history at the time.  Now he has taken over Piedmont Church.  This is a church that had 2,000 in attendance at its peak but had dropped to 200 with buckets in the sanctuary to catch the rain.  It was dying.

Under his leadership,  Piedmont is now running over 900 in weekly attendance.  Lives are being changed daily and the church is absolutely on fire!  What a difference a great leader can make!  If you live in Marietta, GA and looking for a church home or solutions to life’s issues, you must visit Piedmont Church on Piedmont Rd!  For directions and a map, click here.

Ike has been a dear friend for over a decade and I would do anything for him.  And in one of my darkest hours, he stepped in and did something for me – he preached my dad’s funeral.

One week has passed since the funeral and I have had time to process the event.  The following are the leadership lessons I learned from this incredible man on leading others through difficult times:

  1. Ike Is Responsive – When I called him the evening my dad passed, Ike was on a plane back from Lynchburg, VA as he serves on the Board of Liberty University.  Shortly after landing, he immediately called me back.
  2. Ike Is Kind – Ironically, Ike was the first person I talked to after my step-dad died five years ago and of course, I talked to him the day my dad died as well.  I get emotional just thinking about it but both times he talked about the quality of man I had become.  He always knows exactly what to say.
  3. Ike Prioritizes Friendships – Someone of Ike’s stature has a very full calendar.  He moved several events around to make sure he could deliver the eulogy.  It is important to note that Ike did not know my dad.  He simply did this because friendships are important to him.
  4. Ike Clearly Communicated Expectations – He said, “Brian, what I like to do is get his friends to write funny stories about him and I will work them into the message.”  Because of Ike’s leading, we were able to obtain multiple humorous accounts of dad’s life that made the funeral a celebration.
  5. Ike Cares About What You Care About – My stepmom asked me to secure a pastor.  I chose Ike for many reasons but one was his ability to show empathy and sympathy to my family.
  6. Ike Was Prepared – Ike is an experienced, gifted communicator.  His ability to link dad’s stories in with the traditional gospel message of a funeral was amazing.
  7. Ike Utilizes Humor – Humor unites people.  Dad enjoyed life and so did his friends.  Therefore, the audience was very engaged.  Ike’s ability to connect with the audience (and control them) shows his ability to read a room and captivate an audience.

After the service, the following were just some of comments said to me:

  • “Brian, that was a great funeral.  I got a bunch of ideas on how to do mine.”
  • “Brian, thank you so much.  He was wonderful.”
  • “Brian, I REALLY liked him.”
  • “That was the best funeral message I ever heard.”
  • “Ike is absolutely amazing!”

Ike – Thank You!  Thank You!  Thank You!  I can’t say “Thank You” enough.  You are a great leader and you really blessed my family more than you will ever know.  It is a privilege to call you a friend.

Responsiveness.  Kindness.  Prioritizing Friendships.  Clearly Communicating Expectations.  Caring About What Others Care About.  Preparation. Humor.  Do these 7 qualities describe you as a leader?  If so, I am confident that God is using you in an incredible way to lead others through difficult times.

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