In the spring of 1981, I received my first paycheck as a pastor. My church was small—under 20 people—so my paycheck consisted of funds from my church, my local Baptist association (the Southwestern Baptist Association of Hamilton, OH), my Baptist state convention (Ohio), and the Home Mission Board (now NAMB). Southern Baptists have loved me, led me, taught me, supported me, and prayed for me for several decades—and I’m indebted to them.
I attended my first Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, TX, in 1985. The stakes of the Conservative Resurgence were high, and the battle was on. I knew our stand for the Bible was critical. As a young pastor and soon-to-be seminary student, I took my position. At the same time, though, I grieved the ways we treated each other in the heat of the moment. Folks on both sides of the arguments acted in unChristian ways at times, and I was probably one who did so.
With all these memories in mind, I pray for our SBC that takes place this week in Dallas:
- That we will come seeking Him more than our own agendas. His will must always be our goal, even if He must change our will to conform to His. It’s easier to preach that truth, though, than it is to live it.
- That we will gather in repentance and brokenness. Recent days have been tough ones. Some of our leaders have argued that God is judging us. I’m sure others among us would debate that conclusion, but we cannot deny that we’re sinful and rebellious people. Repentance is in order.
- That we will pray together. A lot. Something just happens when we get on our face before God. It’s tough to be prideful when our noses are buried in the carpet.
- That we will honor Christ before a watching world. We already know the media are paying attention to us. We have an opportunity to model grace, forgiveness, love, and humility that only God can create in a group of thousands of people. I pray we won’t miss the opportunity.
- That we will remember that much of the world doesn’t know we exist. It may feel like the world revolves around us for a couple of days, but it doesn’t. Most people in the world have never heard of us. That’s okay, though, because the story has never been about us in the first place.
What is your prayer this week? Would you join me in praying?