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10/9/97 SBC president lists differences between success & effectiveness

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–“Not everything successful is effective,” Tom Elliff told local pastors in the greater New Orleans area during a luncheon Oct. 3 hosted by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Speaking about an issue he said has been on his heart of recent, Elliff said he has been deeply impressed with the difference between success and effectiveness.
“More and more, I’m meeting men who have more confidence in themselves than God,” Elliff said.
Calling success a trap, he said a pastor occupied with success is concerned with how his office looks, while an effective pastor is concerned with how much time he can spend in his prayer closet.
A successful pastor focuses on numbers; an effective pastor is trying to remember people’s names.
A successful pastor is concerned with how to get where he is going; an effective pastor is concerned with how thoroughly he is doing what he needs to do.
A successful pastor spends time thinking about the size of his congregation; an effective pastor spends time thinking about the certainty of his call, regardless of the size of his congregation.
A successful pastor is oriented to the world; an effective pastor is striving for heaven.
A successful pastor thinks he influences more people than he really does; an effective pastor influences more people than he thinks he does.
“I’d rather be effective than successful,” Elliff said. “If there are going to be any rewards, let God give them to you.”
Describing success as something like cotton candy, he said, “It looks good, tastes great, but it’s hard to clean up afterwards.”
Elliff took time during the luncheon to answers questions from the pastors.
First specifically addressing the many bivocational ministers in the room, Elliff said they “deserve our deepest love and greatest respect. Bivocational ministers are our heroes, the true Pauline model.”
Asked about his vision for the SBC’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City next June, Elliff said he wants Southern Baptists to be known as “the most caring, giving, sharing people” who have ever been in the city. “I hope Southern Baptists will be in Salt Lake City in full force.
“This convention will be a phenomenal experience,” he continued, noting the theme will be on “the unchanging Christ; Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Asked about revival coming to America, Elliff said revival should be driven by the Word of God. “What we need is expository preaching,” not sensationalism. Much of what is seen today does not have a doctrinal framework, he said. “We must have sound expository preaching, not topical preaching and not men’s thoughts. … Doctrinal preaching is to the body of Christ what the skeleton is to the body. Doctrinal, expository preaching holds us together.”
If preachers will preach expository sermons and preach the doctrines, Elliff said, then when God does something sensational in a revival “it will last because God did it.”

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  • Debbie Moore