Sean Gutteridge: The Unspoken Eulogy

2011-08-30-22-14-54“Death is a dialogue between The Spirit and the Dust.” 

~ Emily Dickinson


Sean Gutteridge passed away in his sleep after leading worship for his congregation at Westmoore Community Church in south Oklahoma City. He was the lead worship pastor and head of the Production Team at WCC where he served for 20+ years. He was 47-ish years old and is survived by his stunningly beautiful wife, Rene Gutteridge, local author of over 20 Fiction novels and multiple screen plays, and their two children, John and Cate Gutteridge. He is also survived by both parents, Don Gutteridge and Sonja Gutteridge and two brothers, Lance Gutteridge and Joshua Gutteridge. A public memorial will not be held at the request of the family.


Sean’s life was marked by highs and lows and leaves no estate of any substantial worth. Not well known in his community but well thought of by those who did not know him well. Of friends, he had few and for those who did know him well, he was said to be somewhat of a paradox. Lazy and undisciplined with a tendency towards anger and at times, rage. He could also be known to exhibit extreme bouts of compassion and was thought to be soft spoken. Loyalty seems to be his greatest attribute while a lack of self-confidence and his temper, his greatest character defects. Considered incredibly talented, his life from a worldly stand-point will be noted as a man who never quite lived up to his enormous potential both in his public life as well as his private one.

The greatest legacy Sean Gutteridge leaves will be the legacy of his children and the great love affair he had with his beautiful wife, Rene. Though he made many mistakes as both husband and father, neither children nor wife will wonder whether the man they knew better then anyone else had loved them deeply and earnestly. He was quick to accept his own personal faults and recognize his own short-comings, but led his family rooted in the Grace and Love of Christ, Jesus.

Apart from his family, Sean’s greatest passions in life were as follows: an intense love for Christ and a desire to preach and minister that gospel according to his own personal DNA and make-up. He enjoyed the fact that he didn’t have all the answers to building a successful ministry and often mocked those who claimed to hold the missing formulas to such enterprises. He liked the untried roads and unproven methods, though often got stuck in his own (admitted) complacency and lack of self-discipline. He loved to write anything: music, poetry, stories and particularly, short devotions. In his latter years, though his song writing dropped off, he never lost his desire and love to try writing new psalms though few would ever be heard especially towards the end of his life.

Another passion of his was taking pictures and he was even said to be somewhat addicted to photography apps on his phone, spending hours tinkering with new filters and effects in his attempt to create some stunning, new work of what he referred to (somewhat tongue in cheek) as his “phone photography art-work”. At his core, he was a true, slightly eccentric and sometime neurotic, artist. He was a deep thinker but hated debates and conflict of any kind, feeling even simple debates brought out the worst in him. He also loved to make people laugh… even if it meant at his own expense. He thrived being the butt of jokes… but only if the jokes were funny. He loved acting and this was the single area in his life where he held an absolute command of himself and a complete confidence in his abilities. He never shied away from letting anyone know that he could act circles around anyone living or dead and mocked those who were stupid enough to challenge him in this assertion. He was most proud, however, of the accomplishments of those he loved most… his wife and his children. He would sacrifice any good fortune on himself to see them succeed.
His love of people was under-estimated. Though he hated crowds and never felt comfortable in social situations, he loved serving his church and anyone near the vacinity of wherever his ministry might be. He loved to travel and that made him a natural missionary and in his last few years, even more then his passion as a worship leader, this became the great ministry passion in his life. He did not live to see his vision and dream of clinics in Uganda come to pass, but he was confident up to the moment he passed away that it would happen because he felt this was God’s own vision and not his, personally.

Though he leaves behind an unmeasurable legacy, his hope in life was to know that he had raised children to love the Lord as He had. He spent 17 years doing what he could to instill within them an understanding and appreciation of God’s Grace and a desire to pursue God’s desires for their own lives. He personally requested before his passing there be no memorial for, as he stated, “They are such sad affairs and I never was good at the tragedies… a was a comedic actor.” It is fitting that he passed away after doing what he loved to do… and fitting that he was able to take one final nap. He’ll be well rested for eternity.

We can’t write our own eulogy. Well, we can but that’s just really weird, isn’t it. But if you could, what would you say? Would you want yours to have just the facts? Would you want it to put you in a better light? Would it be tinted with regrets and sorrows? Or could you write it as close to how you really were? The problem is… there can be no balance mainly because somebody’s gonna disagree with how you paint yourself. An obituary is based on the stats of how you physically left this world and who you left behind. Your eulogy is how the world perceived you when you passed. So pick your speaker wisely! I might have to do some heavy bribing to get a decent eulogy and even then, they could just take the money and run. What can I do by then? But I won’t really care at that point so it might be kind of entertaining to have someone who really hated me give my eulogy. Can you imagine that?!

John F. Kennedy’s eulogy was probably pretty flowery and elegant. The world grieved this man because he was perceived as a great man and… he did some great things. But he was a huge Jack-ass. Are we to admire that he was a habitual ladies man and philanderer throughout his marriage? Ultimately, it’s the silent legacy we leave that will outlast the eloquent eulogy which may (or may not) be spoken over our cold coffins or shiny, polished urns. If my children know I loved them; if they have been equipped spiritually to live lives worthy of their savior; if what few people I’ve met were touched even in the smallest of ways; if my wife knows she was the SINGLE most important person in my life; if my life – through ALL my many mistakes and personal blemishes – can still be stretched out and anyone looking can see the firm imprint of Christ, Jesus on it… THEN my life has been well lived. I am so many things contrary to Christ and so far removed from His full transforming process, yet I desperately want to be moving forward towards that. If I took three steps backwards today, then I must determine to do my best to make up the ground tomorrow. I admit that… I sometimes feel like a yo-yo – up and down, back and forth, and so on. But mostly, I want to approach every day with this simple idea: gain ground towards Christ today. Know Him more today. Seek Him today. That’s all. I stopped awhile back trying to approach that transformation process as a place to someday arrive at and began seeing it more as a daily journey, knowing that (knowing myself too well) there will be days that me and Jesus just don’t make much progress because, well, I’m being the Jack-ass and have simply made up my mind… “Not today, Lord.” I’ve also come to understand that as yesterday is passed, regardless of the growth made yesterday, today I must have the same determination to make forward progress or… THIS day may be lost.

Transformation isn’t a destination as much as it is a “Becoming”. That keeps me from believing that I can work my way into it. Yes, there are things I must do to assist the Holy Spirit in helping me become transformed into the image of Christ but they consist of actions like “Loving” and “Obedience” and “Trusting” and “Praying” and things like that. As I seek actively this process through prayer and His Word, the journey takes on a life void of dreariness and one of renewed intensity. Though struggles persist, I am invigorated by the constant urging forward of God’s Spirit. And done with enough consistency, the cycle becomes habitual to the point that it begins to mark my life more and more to the point where it affects everything thing I say, every reaction and ultimately every thought. And that becomes the unspoken eulogy of my life, unchallengeable by anyone or anything.

If I could write my own eulogy, that’s what I would WANT it to say… but you can’t fake the Unspoken Eulogy. What will my own unspoken eulogy be? Time will tell. I not quite dead, just yet. Peace to you –

Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture: Isaiah 33:15-16

15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil

16 he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.


Established Steps


I can’t live on the mountain top forever… but sometimes, I’d like to stay up here a little bit longer.


My plans are comedic. My plans are tragic. Most often, they’re just com-agedies where everything falls apart in the end and as painful and sad as that is, everyone who’s witness to them are left laughing at my wake… and expense, including me! But that’s the problem: I’m always trying make things happen instead of allowing God to orchestrate His plans in my life. You know, I never planned on going to Africa… never wanted to go. Didn’t just have a desire NOT to go, but literally had an AVERSION to going. At one point, told The Lord “Sure, Lord… I’ll go into ministry and do this whole ‘music’ thing. But only if You promise I won’t have to go to Africa or something crazy like that…!” I thought I heard Him say “Okay, it’s a deal.” Apparently, I must have heard wrong. Six trips (and counting) later, and I laugh every time I step off the plane in Uganda. I love it and even now, I’m already looking forward to the next trip which can’t come soon enough for me. At some point, we give our plans to The Lord and let go of things. I know that I still get into His planning of things and can mess it up on occasion but it gets easier and easier.

Proverbs 16:9

The heart of man plans his way,

but the LORD establishes his steps.

You have given your plans to The Lord. Now walk in assurance that He has established your plans as His and His as yours… they are united by His Spirit and are one in the same. Be bold today and walk in this assurance tomorrow. Walking in the established and intentional steps God has laid out before me… there could be no more sure-footed road then this! Who can come against any plan that the Almighty has now established?! Whether going to Africa or simply going into work on another “seemingly” ordinary day, know that when you’ve willingly given the direction of your life over to Him, He will establish your steps. And life will be anything but ordinary no matter what it “seems” to look like to an outside world that cannot possible understand the Will nor the Ways of the Most High!

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture:

Jeremiah 29:12-14

12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

The Pursuit of Perfection



Christian perfection isn’t human perfection… Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship found in God. I’ve been trying to be the perfect human. Despite knowing this is a vain pursuit, I try none the less. Being Holy is far more attainable then being perfect. In fact, nowhere in God’s Word does it say we are called to be perfect but we ARE called to seek Holiness. We have it within us to be Holy.

While I may not be able to obtain perfection, I CAN have a perfect relationship in Jesus Christ. I can find perfection in my relationship with God. By continually pressing forward in making perfection in Christ my own what I really doing is seeking to obtain as much of Christ as possible. Paul states that He has already made me His own and all I seek to do is begin to reciprocate the same. By my attempt to do so and having a deep and sincere desire to this end, I will be found by God already buried deep in the perfect relationship with His Son… even as He continues to build and improve upon that perfection daily.

Peace, Sean G.


Today’s ScripturePhilippians 3:12

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own

The Choice is Yours


[Written while in Uganda]


Acceptance shapes our views of God. Pound into the lives of your kids: that where the world is constantly rejecting you or telling you what must be done to be accepted… God has unconditionally accepted you even as He begins to transform you. The choice is yours each day.

We will accept something, even those who choose to accept nothing. For even no – decision is a decision, and as my dad use to tell me growing up… a no – decision ALWAYS leads to the worst of all results. (Unless you’re a pitcher in baseball!) So what will you choose to accept today? What God has for you and who He says you are? Endure to the point of accepting nothing EXCEPT what God has promised and you will find yourself able to walk encouraged in the face of every strife and negative thing directed your way. Let the volume of God’s voice of Truth about you and your circumstances drown out all other noise. In this, you will endure.

Peace, Sean G.

Romans 15:5-7

5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,

6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.


Divinely Cultivated By Love


[Written while in Uganda]

“Divine love and natural love cannot remain without cultivating. – Oswald Chambers”


Nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ. Things will unravel from the inside out quickly when I lose sight of this, even in the most difficult moments. God’s is intentional and purposeful but also just as spontaneous as human love. But where our love is sporadic and unpredictable, there is always reason behind every act and part of God’s love. Chambers states “though love be spontaneous it must be maintained by discipline.”

The more I cultivate it, the more often it begins to be continually poured out through me in all situations… and just as I am saturated by God’s Love it won’t be long before everyone I am around will begin to be saturated & affected by it, too.

Am I cultivating love so that, like God’s Love, it can become more intentional and far less sporadic? It doesn’t take much to maintain the Love of God and when I consistently cultivate it I will find the love poured out from me will nourish and influence others more then I could ever believe. This is the divine Love that I desperately desire to see within me. Though not quite there, I will get there quicker the more I continue to cultivate it with the help of God’s Holy Spirit. Even as I am cultivating His love within me, He is cultivating me BY His Love. Peace, Sean Gutteridge


Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 13:1-3

1 Let brotherly love continue.

2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

The Whole Will


[Written while in Uganda] 


“The moments when I truly live are the moments when I act with my whole will.”

(OZ Chambers)

But it takes my whole Will. Not an ounce can be left behind. I must determine to be dominated by God’s Will. Put your will in a position to lose by putting it face to face with God’s Will. Our will won’t stand a chance against His when we force the issue.

Are we submitting to God, to the World, or to other outside forces? Whose opinions do we seek and listen to more then the Holy Spirit? And how much credence do we give God on a daily basis? If His Will isn’t dominating every aspect and area of my life, then I will be lacking and regardless of how well things appear to be going, something will always seem off balance and out of whack.

It’s easy to know what we want – we teach our children early how to ask for things but fail to teach them how to ask what God wants. It becomes a difficult thing to learn because we’ve not been programmed to look beyond the needs and desires of our own hearts. Attending to these desires is at the very core of the sinful nature we’ve been born into. At the moment Christ enters our hearts, the battle between the desires of my flesh and the desires of His Spirit begins.


So what is it that God really wants? Am I asking this of myself each day? Asking this question is the beginning of my heart’s submission to His Spirit. Replacing those desires with His is the final step in my submission to the Will of God. But a difficult journey that can be! Though it shouldn’t be, the sinful nature makes it difficult. It does not die easily. The only way to bring my flesh into full submission is to reckon the desires of my flesh with the works of what Christ has done for me and stand them side by side to compare which Will is worth following: the will of a fallen, sinful man? Or that of a merciful God and Loving Savior? This is an odd thing to think about, but consider this: my will, when driven by my own flesh, will lead me always to death and destruction. It will destroy me. But the Will of God, driven by His Spirit will always lead me to life and spiritual prosperity. It seems like such an easy choice but the battle of Wills, the fight between His Spirit and my flesh is the battle I’ll fight until my final breath. If I can lose the battle of Wills; if God’s Will begins to dominate more and more each day, then I’ll find that in this one instance, losing will lead to such a glorious life of abundance & joy. Living fully submitted to God’s Will, as Chambers stated, is truly living. Peace, SAG

Today’s Scripture: Colossians 2:20

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations



His Orchestration of Opportunities


[Written while in Uganda]


Circumstances are not by chance. God orchestrates everything into His opportunities. I see this very clearly, today. I may not tomorrow. Chambers makes a great point when he states “Am I making the Holy Spirit’s work difficult by trying to do His work myself?” How clearly I see this principle in Uganda! How much of His work AM I trying to do and as a result, how much time is wasted in doing so? I’m neglecting so much of where I can be most effective, especially in regards to my prayers and even my availability to do what He really needs me to do and be where He needs me to be.

It’s interesting the clarity I have today! When God needs me in Uganda, then He will get me there. When God needs me in Oklahoma City, He will keep me there. Fascinating that it’s the keeping part that I resist more then the going. Maybe it’s because the work back home tends to be centered more around teaching me lessons and principles that I haven’t quite mastered yet – as if back home is where the studying and hard work happens and then, when I’m ready, He finally sends me out!

Ngariam (2010) Day 8-11 007 (2)

Regardless of where I am, I am thankful for each opportunity He brings my way. So don’t hear me wrong when I say being away feels more exciting, sometimes, because my greatest blessings are certainly back at home! My greatest ministry happens back at home, too, and I never learn as much about myself as when I back home in the grind doing the day to day work that prepares me for the next big adventure – whether that’s in Uganda or a prison yard or even somewhere around the corner from my home! So I do my best to prayerfully be alert not only to the lessons I need to master but to the opportunities He brings before when He feels that I am fully ready for. Where to go from here? Home… to a family I miss, to people I am longing to lead once again and to hot showers and home cooked meals! But today – with great clarity – I thank The Lord once more for each opportunity He gives me to serve Him. And… I enjoy being given a moment to stop and reflect on God, His calling only life and lessons both learned and those still to come. Time to get back home to the classroom!

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture:

Colossians 4:2

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.








The Ingenuity of His Calling


[Written while in Uganda]


Today, I am given cause to pause and reflect on what I’ve seen while in Uganda. It is sometimes difficult to grasp, completely, the manner and power in which God is moving, here.

What strikes me most is how differently my mind operates in Uganda. There are still struggles and issues that I grapple with – but I do feel as if I am a different servant altogether. Yes, I will always have my “Sean” moments…! But I think differently and respond differently. My heart rate steadies. Fear and doubt are absent. My ability to accept each moment as it comes regardless of the conditions of said moments… well, I do confess that I’m not too sure that I recognize the guy staring back at me! (He’s still no saint but he’s a lot more chill then his American counter-part!) One reason could be the absence of all the complexities of the human emotions and needs. Void of these complexities, I find it so much easier to clearly hear the voice of God and all He is commanding me to do. There is very little interference between His voice and my ears and that is perhaps one of my favorite reasons for making these trips: the clarity of hearing God speak with fewer distractions.


I should be able to translate this back home. There is no good reason why I can’t but I also recognize that while it IS possible and this is the goal, distractions are a part of everyday living. So I gotta deal with them and keep trying to learn how to do back home what seems so easy here, even in the midst of all distractions.


Perhaps here, in the mission fields of Uganda, it is easier to also see the Wisdom and Grand design of the Almighty. Seeing first hand how He is doing so many incredible things in so many lives, here, it isn’t possible for me to attribute even one thing to human wisdom or ingenuity. Perhaps back home it’s easier to forget that God and His Mind are behind everything wonderful that happens. Not that I ever intend to take credit for God’s work, but… it’s entirely possible that when His work is credited to me, well… I don’t always stop to correct people!

Sean faded

I love it here and truth be known (although I seriously doubt this is any secret) I equally love the work He has me doing back home, too. Working for The Lord on two continents, well… I can’t think of a better way to live then in His service while always trying to improve upon how clearly I am able to hear His commands. The ingenuity of His calling is remaining the same wherever I may be, but He will position us on occasion where we are better able to see and clearly understand the magnitude of that calling and His Will.

Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture: 1 John 5:5

5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes

that Jesus is the Son of God?


Called By Name


[Written while in Uganda]


He calls me by name. Yes… It’s that simple. So are you ignoring that fact or do you heed the Word of The Lord and if so, then is your struggle with fear, pride, selfishness or doubt? When there is spiritual turmoil, often the first place we must look is too often the one place we do not… our heart. When we cannot hear His voice, we are not hearing. When we cannot see His Will, we are not searching. When we cannot feel His presence, we are not still. There have been many moments where His voice seems silent, when His Will seems absent or unclear, when His presence seems distant. But when my heart is aligned to His and my soul is trusting in His perfect provision, my spirit will be settled and confident that He still guides me. He just may be speaking and leading in a manner that my heart doesn’t quite recognize. Yet, aligned with His, my heart will not panic – it will simply trust and obey.

God doesn’t want to make us perfect people of what He can do, God’s purpose is to make us perfectly one with Him. We should be looking for the place where we stop asking “how, Lord?”, “where, Lord?”, and “why, Lord?” and start asking the only relevant questions “what now” and “what more” can I do for You, Lord? This is what the aligned heart longs to know and once our hearts are aligned, even as turmoil overtakes us physically, the spiritual turmoil subsides because all the aligned heart wants to know is this: “Am I doing everything possible for You, Lord?!”

One step further beyond our doubt is an unflinching, unquestionable obedience. What we find one step beyond our doubt is a commitment to His Truth and a love for God’s most desirable Will. Beyond doubt we find a desire for all things God and our thirst for His Will becomes unquenchable. Align your hearts today and step beyond your doubt and His answers will become deafening. Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Today’s Scripture:

John 10:3

3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

Shades of Darkness/Rays of Light


[Written while in Uganda]

Ngariam (2010) Day 8-11 013

What does my obedience say? Once I understand who God is and accept what God has done in my life… and then choose NOT to obey… what does that say about me?

I either believe in the sovereignty of God and His Higher Power over all things or I do not. There can be no in between. We can live in Light or in darkness – even the shadows are shades of darkness… will I choose the Darkness once the Light has shined upon my life? My obedience is my deep recognition of God’s Holiness, Power and His sovereignty over my own life. Chambers says that “it is an indifference to God’s Grace how abominable I am if I come to the Light… but woe to me if I refuse it.”

Lord, let my obedience move me beyond mere duty and into a deeper state of desire and longing! The shades of darkness ultimately freeze my soul, but in my obedience I will be moved even deeper into the warming rays of His illuminating Light. If the Light of Christ cares nothing about the state it finds me in, how can I dare refuse it? Show me a better alternative! His Grace may BE indifferent to my tainted and wretched state but there is no way I will be found showing indifference to that same Grace. Let my obedience prove it! Peace, Sean Gutteridge

Ngariam (2010) cross way

Today’s Scripture:

Acts 9:6-9

6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”