Any time things become as public as they have become in the IMB trustee disagreement, there will always be criticism for anything said or done, regardless of one's motives or intentions.
There are those who say I am too serious. Then there are others who are offended that I could joke about this situation. There are a few who say I should just resign, and then some who say stay on! A handful are tired of it all, but many are just now getting motivated to participate in the SBC. All of us are learning things as we travel this journey together. I'm learning a great deal about myself and others.
Let me just say a couple of things that I hope everyone will take to heart before I announce the winners of the three day contest entitled "If You Were In My Shoes."
FIRST, every trustee I have met on the IMB loves missions and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a disagreement on principles, it is never a "I love Jesus more than you" debate.
SECOND, there are times when we all better laugh at ourselves, for if we take ourselves too seriously we lose perspective. My kids do a great impersonation of me. My staff loves to joke about me. I laugh from the belly when this happens because I don't take myself too seriously. I do, however, take the gospel very seriously. But I am too frail, too human and too sinful to think too highly of myself. The SBC is the same way. The gospel is important, but if we can't laugh at some of the things we do as a convention, we are in trouble.
THIRD, family members can argue, but we remain family. We are all Southern Baptists. Let's not get to the place where we say, "I can't stand you, so I'm leaving you," or "I can't stand you, so get out." I really want to learn to give dissent, disagree over minor doctrines (by the way, eternal security is not a minor doctrine, but the qualifications of the administrator of your baptism is), voice opposition, but keep on loving the people on the other side.
The Editor of Christianity Today emailed me today and said he was told by the Chairman of the Trustees that there would either be reconciliation or I would resign from the Board. I told the Editor that there is more of a probability that the Pope would be elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention than I would resign.
So, that must mean reconciliation is on the way! I'm glad.
Thank you for all your advice! I laughed, I listened, I learned.
For those of you who wrote and said you were offended that people could say the things they did, lighten up! Southern Baptists have proven again that they are razor sharp, mission minded, and always ready to do everything possible to keep the main thing the main thing.
THE WINNERS IN FOUR CATEGORIES
(1). The Solomon Award . . The clearest, most articulate advice for resolution to the dilemma that honors God and betters our convention.
WINNER . . A female attorney named Dorcas.
Dorcas was one of the first to post. So many had outstanding ideas on how I should resolve this situation and special kudos to Bowden, Art and others, but Dorcas wins. Her post follows:
Do not resign your post as Trustee. Allow the Convention the opportunity to give its collective voice. Stay near your wife as much as possible ... she is your strongest advocate. There will be time enough in June to deal with this. Let others do the footwork and claim for yourself, your family and your church a level of normalcy.
Follow Philippians 4:8 and find whatsoever things are:
True - stay in the Word daily, hourly if needed on the days when life is rough.
Honest - determine to preach fresh sermons with the fervor of a newly ordained minister, don’t allow time constraints to tempt you into reruns.
Just - for every person you may find yourself on the opposite side of the table from, think now of one positive effect they have had on your life or one positive thing they have done for others, and determine to communicate that to them and others whenever you have the opportunity.
Pure - visit the nursery at your church, rock the babies until the cares of the world slip from your mind in the face of such newness of life.
Lovely - take a vacation to your favorite part of nature, mountains, the beach, the forest, wherever it might be and if only for a day, give yourself a physical “time out” away from everything.
Of Good Report - take time to gather with the teenagers of your church, find out what they think about all that is going on. They are the next group of “younger leaders” and need to know they will not have to be dealing with similar issues 20 years from now. Instill in them the importance of principle over people, so even if you are no longer a Trustee in June, they will not become bitter at the “system”.
Virtuous - slip into the Sunday School class of the oldest age group at your church, don’t let them focus on you, just say you are there to be a silent participant. Soak in the wisdom of the ages. Remind yourself that you have a long way to go yet.
Praiseworthy - get out of the limelight for a day, make coffee for your secretary and offer to run those copies yourself. Thank her for being your front line defense to all the media attention ... and give her a few extra days off.
None of these things will solve the immediate problem of convention politics, but it will give your time to the people who care about you the most, and I believe an even stronger love for your pastoral calling, which no one can take from you
(2). The Bob Hope Award . . . The funniest advice (I love to laugh! Scripture says it is "good medicine.")
WINNER . . .Jim Smith. This one was close. I laughed at a good many funny things, but some were a little too personal (yes, you FedBeggar), and some were a little too risque (yes, you SBC Dissenter, no gambling here :) ). Though technically this was an Einstein entry, it made me laugh the most. Here is Jim's post:
Announce the rapture has occured and the premillenialists were correct. Since every Southern Baptist is still here, we must all be lost. Let them know our lost condition is most likely due to two reasons: (1). We were baptized in the wrong church, or, (2). We really didn't have the gift of the Spirit after all. Since the entire convention seems to follow leadership so gullibly, rebaptize everyone. Our stats are up for the year, and everyone is then part of the pure church.
(3). The Marty Duren Award . . . The shortest advice with the most meat.
WINNER Florence Young from Kentucky. Short words, but very encouraging. Florence's advice is as follows:
Please stay the course. You are on the right track!
(4). The Albert Einstein Award . . . The comment that never even entered my mind before (it is hard for me to fathom I have not thought about every possible course of action, but this award goes to the person who gives me something new).
WINNER . . . Kiki! There were some other excellent entries in this category, but this Southern Baptist home missionary was not only Biblical in her response, she put it into modern language! Kiki said . . .
Or you could always take a brick, draw a picture of IMB headquarters on it, and make a model of a military siege against the brick.
Take an iron skillet, and place it between you and the city. Lay on your left side. After 390 days, turn over. Lay on your right side. Stay there for 40 days. Then roll up your sleeves, shake your bare arms, and preach at the brick.
If that doesn't work, shave your head and beard. Take 1/3 of the shaved hair and burn it inside IMB headquarters. Take another 1/3, chop it in bits, and sprinkle it around Richmond. Take the final 1/3 and throw it to the wind.
Okay....so maybe Ezekiel's example is not the best one to follow. But my guess is that after a few days of that, you would at least get their attention!!!!
Thanks for the over 100 entries. Women won by a 3 to 1 margin. The professor in me believes that these women winners are ethically, morally and Biblically qualified to have a superior ranking and rating to the men. I would love debate on that subject! :)
Winners email me with your address and I will send you a signed copy of my book "Happiness Doesn't Just Happen: Learning to Be Content Regardless of Your Circumstances" which was written as an exposition of Philippians 4:11 but has now become an autobiography!
You can sell it on ebay for a quarter after you read it!!
Have a great day, and God's blessings to you all.
In His Grace,