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Seeking mutual respect


If I were asked to come up with one phrase to describe the division among older and younger pastors within the state I would have to say "a lack of respect."

In order to establish a level of respect, the young pastor must remember where he came from. Being a Georgia Baptist all my life, I remember a time when the convention did not embrace a conservative philosophy. I have been able to eyewitness the resurgence that took place within our state convention and I have had the privilege of attending a Southern Baptist seminary in a time when its foundational beliefs are grounded on the Bible as inspired, inerrant and infallible.

I presently have the joy of serving as pastor in a Georgia Baptist church in a time when our state convention stands on the Word of God without compromise. Not only have I witnessed and benefited from a conservative resurgence in Baptist history, but also I continue to be mentored by an elder pastor.

In order to establish a level of respect, the older pastor must remember that the future is in the hands of the younger pastor. Eventually the reins are going to be handed over, whether it is by the passing of the torch or a cold dead hand. Ultimately, the younger pastor must be trusted.

In order to trust, a level of respect must be achieved. Just because younger pastors use different methodologies to reach the lost doesn't necessarily mean that their philosophies are watering down the Scriptures.

I believe and accept the fact that different methods may be needed in order to lead people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And ultimately, that is all that really matters.

If the older pastor is struggling with the philosophies of the younger, then I believe the effort should be made to mentor one, discover the real intentions of his heart, and as a result, respect his love for Jesus. Also, a younger pastor must also be willing to be mentored. After all, we are all fearfully, wonderfully and uniquely made to be all that Jesus has made us to be.

I consider myself extremely fortunate. I get to serve in a convention whose leadership loves Jesus and respects His word. I get to serve in a convention that has young, passionate, vibrant pastors grounded in the Word of God.

But I would consider myself more fortunate if we as pastors, both young and old, would make the decision to become part of the solution and not part of the problem. There is a way of bridging the gap and I believe it all starts with respect. We have a lot of great things going on in our state, so let's build upon our unique differences.