I retired from my ministry position as the Director of Briarwood Counseling Ministries at 78. Following my retirement, I engaged in counseling, writing, and conference-speaking activities within The Owen Center in Auburn, Alabama, for six years. In January 2023, Briarwood requested my return as Interim Director while they searched for a full-time director. I am fulfilling this role concurrently by serving on three boards, which include two educational institutions and one counseling ministry. Additionally, I hold the position of Director for the DMin Biblical Counseling Program at Birmingham Theological Seminary.
Throughout my “retirement” years, I authored several books, the latest being Thirty-Six Biblical Strategies for Making Marriage Joyful. My passion lies in imparting truth and fostering love, particularly through biblical counseling, to aid individuals, spouses, and families in navigating life’s challenges. During my tenure at Briarwood, I have overseen a two-semester training program for lay counselors for over two decades, providing continuous mentorship to these counselors. Additionally, I mentor individuals pursuing certification with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, contributing to their personal and counseling growth.
Reflecting on my time at DTS, I hold fond memories of professors like Dr. Ryrie, who epitomized the combination of teaching truth and demonstrating love by generously supporting students in need. The job market was challenging when I started as a graduate student. It took my wife two months to secure a position. During our first semester, we were invited to a gathering for systematic theology majors at Dr. Ryrie’s house. As the event concluded, Dr. Ryrie personally shook hands with each guest at the door. When our turn came for a handshake, he asked if we could stay for a while and guided us to his study—a sanctuary of books. After a bit of chit-chat, Dr. Ryrie said, “Howard, I am aware that Pam has not yet secured employment. I want you to know that if you need help with rent, food, or tuition, I want to cover it for you.”
We had been strangers to him just two weeks prior. Nevertheless, he extended his generosity. In the years that followed, as the President of Birmingham Theological Seminary, I made a concerted effort to remain attuned to the needs of students, helping when feasible or guiding them toward solutions.
My earlier classical education imparted the concepts of teaching and love in an academic sense, but DTS equipped me with the tools to translate academic knowledge into practical applications. I hold profound gratitude to the Lord for the influence of both institutions. My journey from ministry to retirement and back has been replete with occasions to share the transformative potential of biblical counseling and to educate others on the significance of truth and love.