Rush Limbaugh finally succumbed to lung cancer and passed away this morning. And I cannot tell you of the wave of grief that swept over me upon hearing the news.
Many people are paying tribute to Rush and many are telling what Rush meant to them.
And I just want to take a moment here and record what, and who Rush Limbaugh was to me.
First of all, if you do not know who Rush Limbaugh is, well then let me say you should. It most parts of the world it would be hard not to know who Rush Limbaugh is and was. You should know who Rush Limbaugh is because of the great light of truth he let shine forth from his life and his work. You should know who Rush Limbaugh is because of the transformational way he approached his chosen profession and because of the astounding changes he was able to make within that profession over the course of his career.
But many, many others are, and will, heap accolades on Rush for all of these things and what he meant to his community. And I’ll let them do that as they can handle it much better than I can.
What I’d like to do is tell you who Rush Limbaugh was to me in a way that I don’t believe anyone else will.
Rush Limbaugh was the greatest Pastor to ever live (and probably ever will live). And I am a Pastor, so I can say that with all sincerity and meaning. But here is why:
Rush Limbaugh had the largest flock of any Pastor I’ve ever known. Some 25 to 30 million people tuned in to his broadcast every single weekday and sometimes on Sunday. He had a huge congregation. Bigger than anyone else, probably in all of history. And that is completely astounding when you think about how effortlessly he pulled it off.
Rush Limbaugh captured the attention of his audience almost every single day. Most Pastors have difficulty retaining the attention of our congregation 2 or 3 times a week. Not Rush. Every time Rush began his broadcast, millions and millions were waiting to tune in to hear what he had to say. And for every listener he lost, he gained two more. He was constantly adding to the fold.
Rush Limbaugh had the longest sermons at the greatest retention rate. Rush would sit behind the golden EIB microphone and preach for three hours a day. Now to be fair, most preachers out there can preach for three hours (although I doubt they can sustain it for five days a week on an ongoing basis). But most preachers preaching for three hours usually find themselves preaching to empty pews.
Rush Limbaugh preached the truth. He coined the term Truth in Broadcasting and referred to himself as the Truth Detector. And isn’t that what Pastors do? Preach truth. Now I can just hear the screams of heresy shouted my way. But hold on a minute. The Truth of the Gospel is the Truth of conservatism. Lets face it, Rush was hugely Pro Life. Christians are (or should be) Pro Life. The Bible teaches a Pro Life message. Rush was all about Freedom. And the Bible teaches true Freedom. But Paul! Rush didn’t teach from the Bible! He didn’t expound upon Scriptures. He didn’t … Let me tell you something, Rush Limbaugh has been more of a shining light than all of the Pastors in this country combined.
Rush Limbaugh changed lives. And isn’t that the goal of Pastors? At least in their preaching? To change lives? I am pretty sure that some people who listened to Rush over the years actually were prompted by the Holy Spirit and sought out Salvation. So yes, I think it very likely that Rush Limbaugh led come people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But here is something Rush did that may have been more impactful than that. He changed Christian lives. Rush changed peoples minds. Where people were stuck in darkness and untruth, Rush shone the light of truth and people actually switched over to the other side. And that is even more astounding because those changed lives will go out and change more lives and those will go change even more. Rush helped spread the message. And that is something we so often fail to do.
Rush Limbaugh mastered all mediums. I can’t tell you how many Pastors I’ve heard talk about throwing the seed by any means possible. Well Rush Limbaugh mastered Talk Radio, Printed Word, Television, Live gatherings with stadiums full of people. Rush was a master at whatever method was available for getting the message out. And he was better at it than any Pastor on the radio I know, or TV, or Evangelist, or author. Rush knew how to communicate. He knew how to connect. And that is a trait that every single Pastor should aspire to.
So Rush Limbaugh had a larger congregation, for more times a week, for longer periods of time each time than any other Pastor alive today or in recent memory. Rush Limbaugh was highly successful in Talk, Print, Video, Face-to-Face, large gatherings, small gatherings, any gatherings. More so than any Pastor anywhere in the land today. And he did it with ease and made it look like he was having fun.
And here is the saddest part of it all. We Pastors, for the most part, refused to learn a single thing from him. Oh, I know Pastors from all over tuned into Rush’s show and I’m sure we all learned a lot about the topics of the day from that. What I mean is we never learned how to be a Pastor from Rush. We never learned how to preach the way Rush preached. We never learned how to share the way Rush shared. We never learned how to connect to people the way Rush Limbaugh connected to people. And that is very, very sad.
Who was Rush Limbaugh to me? A great Pastor, a great Communicator, a talented giant greatly blessed of God who kept half of his brain tied behind his back just to make it fair to the rest of us.
“Where never lark, or ever eagle flew –High Flight – John Gillespie Magee
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”
Go in peace Rush Limbaugh and may God bless your soul. You will be greatly missed.