Today, I’m writing a post to my denominational family. And, I do so with the open admission that I’m writing to affirm a friend, a colleague – and now my boss: Dr. Paul Chitwood, new president of the International Mission Board. Here are some of the reasons I’m excited about this choice:
- I’ve watched the Lord use Paul over the years. I first met him many years ago when he was considering doctoral work, and I was directing the program. Later, he joined us as part-time professor at Southern Seminary. I’ve seen him as a student, pastor, colleague, IMB trustee chairman, and state convention executive. Through the years, I’ve particularly seen God grow his heart for the nations. Based on his journey, this new role makes much sense.
- He loves missionaries. He will first view the thousands of colleagues he now leads as brothers and sisters in Christ. He recognizes the value of their experience, will welcome their input, and will pray for them as he leads them.
- He understands Southern Baptists (that is, if that’s even possible. . . ). He has served our denomination in multiple roles, and he recognizes the value of our cooperation. He can speak to an older generation that fears change and a younger generation that pleads for it. He will honor our heritage, but he will also allow nothing to get in the way of accomplishing our Great Commission task.
- He has a track record of supporting missions through giving. The churches he has pastored have averaged giving 18.5 percent through the Cooperative Program, and he led the Kentucky Baptist Convention to increase their out-of-state giving to 50%. That kind of example is worth following.
- He will build his team wisely. I’ve known some of the folks Paul has hired as a church staff member and KBC staff member. He seeks the best, and he builds the team needed to get the job done. He is the leader, but he knows he can’t do God’s work alone.
So, here’s my commitment: to pray daily for Paul and his family.They are stepping onto the front lines of a spiritual war. Paul is taking the reins of an organization that daily takes the light of the gospel into the enemy’s darkness. We celebrate his election, but we do so on our knees on his behalf.
Would you join me in this commitment, at least for the rest of 2018 as his family makes this transition?