Published October 21, 2004
I have read a number of interesting articles recently regarding the need to involve more young leadership in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Jimmy Draper wrote a couple of articles using the analogy of the frog in the kettle to discuss the long-term future of Southern Baptist ministry. These articles received an amazing response from readers across the country. I believe Dr. Draper was right to caution all of us about failing to dream great dreams for the future and to accept new talented leadership.
It is absolutely true that we have many incredibly gifted young leaders in Southern Baptist life who deserve opportunities to express their leadership in the long-term future of our Convention. From my observations, I believe that the future of Southern Baptists is secure.
As I travel throughout Georgia in my responsibilities, I am in numerous different churches and associations where I meet many fine young leaders. I am greatly encouraged by their vision, their creativity, their energy and their love for the Georgia Baptist and Southern Baptist Conventions. I sense a moving of God among all of us toward greater efforts in evangelism, missions and church development. I am thrilled about our future - not at all discouraged.
As I read a number of responses to Dr. Draper's articles, I recalled an experience from earlier in my ministry. As I have mentioned before, I was blessed to have a dad who was an outstanding Southern Baptist pastor with many years of valuable experience. He often counseled me through some early challenges in my ministry.
I remember calling him one day discouraged that I had never been invited to serve at any level in the Convention. I wanted to be actively involved, but the invitation never came.
Our church gave 20% through the Cooperative Program. We used only Southern Baptist literature, ran over a thousand in Sunday School and subscribed to the State Baptist paper. We were evangelistic, Bible-centered, mission-involved and had a strong Vacation Bible School without fail. I had a wife, three daughters, a station wagon and a dog. I felt that we were about as normal and extraordinarily committed as any Southern Baptist church could be.
I said, "Dad, I really want to do something in the Convention, but it doesn't look like I'll ever get the opportunity."
In his great wisdom, my dad responded, "Son, what did God call you to do?"
I said, "He called me to be a pastor."
My father then gave me counsel I have always cherished: "Then you be the best pastor you can possibly be to the glory of God and don't worry about anything else. If God wants you to serve beyond your church in the life of the Convention, then He will give you that opportunity. It's not something you seek. That's God's business. You wait, and if it's God's will, it will happen. In the meantime you do what God called you to do and be the best pastor you can possibly be."
My father gave me a talking to that I needed that day and I've never forgotten it. Might I suggest to our young pastors, as well as those among us who have quite a few years in the ministry, to focus upon what God called you to do, and in due season, if it's God's will, He will give you unique opportunities to serve Him. Until then, pursue your calling with all of your might and God will bless you beyond your imagination.
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