A personal encounter with Al Mohler

By now most have heard that Al Mohler will soon undergo a very serious surgery for a tumor that has been found in his colon. Not only are our prayers with this great minister but my thoughts turned this evening to an unusual meeting I had with him a number of years ago.

When I was wet behind both ears I had an encounter with Dr. Al Mohler that I will never forget. I was the student leader at the University of Mobile for the ministerial student association. One of my jobs was to line-up speakers for our meetings and a major coup at that time was to book Dr. Mohler for a special dinner where he could address potential students for SBTS. He was fresh into his presidency at Southern and still facing enormous challenges from his own administration and faculty. Students were actively protesting against him and death threats were being made. In the midst of this turmoil he agreed to come to UM for one evening and address our ministerial students. If memory serves me correctly about twelve showed up for the meeting.

Before Dr. Mohler was to speak we had a nice quiet dinner and I had him all to myself at the front table. For about thirty minutes we talked about military history, preaching, theology, SBC politics, Jacques Barzun and whatever else I could think to ask him about. Looking back I am amazed he was able to eat anything at all because I had peppered him with so many questions. What I remember is that he was incredibly gracious and patient with me. He listened and he helped me enormously.

When it was his time to speak to a packed house of twelve he spoke as if he was addressing a thousand yet was very personable and warm. At the end of his message which was about the need for preaching and the vision he had for SBTS he opened the floor for questions which came at a steady pace for about thirty minutes. He answered every question and stayed around to talk to the students after the dinner. Dr. Mohler stayed until every student left.

In the time since he has become a household name among evangelicals. He is a man that is hated as much as he is loved. However, his impact as the ninth president of Southern Seminary will continue to reach far beyond their own graduates. Although I didn’t know it the night I met with Dr. Mohler, I would not go on to Southern as I had originally planned. The Lord had other plans for me that took me well beyond my SBC comfort zone. Though I would not become one of his many students I remain grateful for those quiet moments we shared where he encouraged me to be a faithful minister and shepherd of God’s people.

We at Expository Thoughts are praying for a healthy recovery and God’s peace for Dr. Mohler’s family.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on February 15, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Dr. Mohler is a godly man and a gift to the universal church.

    Thank you for this post. I have only talked to Al Mohler one time in person but when i did i experienced the same thing; A humble man seeking to serve God and others.

  2. Posted by Jerry Wragg on February 16, 2008 at 2:03 am

    Paul –
    What a few moments to treasure.

    I remember being in a winterim with Dr. John Woodbridge and hearing him tell of times as a boy when he would sit in the living room while his father and Greshem Machen would “chat” theology. Those experiences shape our lives for the entire course of our ministry.

    Just think…you’ll be able to tell your children and grandchildren that you had a unique audience with Dr. Al Mohler.

    Memorable indeed!

  3. Posted by Scott Christensen on February 16, 2008 at 3:15 am

    I have been a fan of Al Mohler since I first heard him speak during TMS days. Recently, I heard his explanation of what happened at SBTS when he came on board (from SGM’s website). Suddenly, I went from being a devoted fan to regarding Mohler as a true Christian hero for our times. He is a genuine spark of light in a dark world. Let us pray for his continuing impact for the sake of Christ.

  4. Posted by Scott Christensen on February 16, 2008 at 3:24 am

    I should add, another hero of mine is Steve Lawson. I had a similar experience with Lawson as you perhaps did with Mohler, Paul. In May of last year, he came very unexpectantly to my obscure part of the woods here in SW Colorado to do a conference in a church where a relative of his attends. The conference was very small compared to the venues Lawson now partakes in.

    It was the last night of the conference and I knew he was tired and just wanted to get back to his hotel. I was enduring somewhat of a crisis in my church at the time and just wanted some encouragement. He spent perhaps 30-45 minutes talking about the difficulties and joys of pastoral ministry. He ought to know, having been ousted from his previous church. His graciousness, wisdom and genuine encouragement helped to pull me out of a mounting spiritual depression that I shall not long forget.

    May the Lord bless these humble, yet courageous men of God.

  5. I wonder who two of those twelve were??

  6. Richard, you were there because we rode together. I don’t remember who the others were but since you are the historian you probably remember.

  7. Nah, remember the two that really mattered—unless others decide to show up and claim otherwise.

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