A Man of Wisdom

wisdomListen to advice and accept instruction, so you might grow wise in the future. Many plans are in a person’s mind, but the Lord’s purpose will succeed (Proverbs 19:20-21, Common English Bible).

I was privileged to sit in class when I was in seminary, with one of the wisest people I have ever known. There are also few I respect more than Bishop John Wesley Hardt. This man of God shared not only his wisdom but he and his wife Martha have shared many of the things God entrusted to them with others around them.

I first met Bishop Hardt in a seminary program the Methodist Church calls “Course of Study School.” I was assigned to his “Church Administration” class. A little over a year later I enrolled in the Master of Divinity program at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University where he worked as “Bishop in Residence” as a part of the school’s faculty. Just over a year after that I sat in Bishop Hardt’s United Methodist Polity course. Both classes were wonderful experiences and I am thankful I had the opportunity to learn from such a man.

Bishop Hardt had an interesting way of beginning each class. He would walk into the classroom and begin by telling a story or reciting a poem, all from memory, all done perfectly. Regardless of what the man said in those times, there were always pearls of wisdom in the telling. Though I was the only person in the polity class who had had him before, he never repeated a story or poem. He always had something to share.

I began the Master of Divinity program much because Bishop Hardt told me it was something he believed I should do. He had me sit in his office, and among other things, Bishop Hardt told me, I would limit myself and my career should I choose to stay in the “Course of Study” program and that I should seriously reconsider my previous decision.

Over the time I was in his classes, I listened and took in the instruction Bishop Hardt offered to his students. I am even happier I listened to his advise. This is a man who made a real difference in my life.

Some years before my arrival at SMU,  Bishop Hardt retired from being an active Bishop. The year I graduated he retired from his position as Bishop in Residence at Perkins. That was seventeen years ago. It was a much deserved retirement. Today he and Martha still live in the Dallas area.

Still, I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for the students who came after me because they would not have the same opportunity to hear the pearls of wisdom that began each class, or the sound advise that came in private conversations. Is there someone else filling that role at Perkins. I sure hope so, for the sake of all those students since Bishop Hardt’s retirement. as it is the part of my seminary education I treasure most.

There is something else I learned from Bishop Hardt. A few years after I graduated Bishop Alfred Norris appointed me to Pleasant Retreat United Methodist Church in Tyler, Texas. It didn’t take long for me to realize the significance of that particular appointment as this was a congregation Bishop Hardt had served as a young pastor many years before. Older members at Pleasant Retreat still remembered him, still talked to him, still respected him. I came to learn that Bishop Hardt was handing out those pearls of wisdom early in his career too.

It is my prayer that somewhere along the way, I passed on a bit of that wisdom Bishop Hardt so generously shared with me. As the Scriptures say, “Listen to advice, accept instruction…” and seek wisdom.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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