FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Many are aware that Dr. David Platt was not my choice for the presidency of the IMB. But the presidential selection committee has assured us that at the end of the intercessory road, Dr. Platt is God’s choice.
Therefore, it is time for a burial. All critics beginning with me must bury our reservations and get on our knees in behalf of this talented young man who now assumes this role. Throughout his first year in office, all Southern Baptists owe David Platt 10 things just as we would any duly elected Southern Baptist entity head.
1. Prayer for his family’s protection. An assignment like the International Mission Board is hard on anyone’s family but especially on the family’s young children. The entire Southern Baptist family ought to pray not only that God will protect Dr. Platt and his family but also that they will be infinitely blessed by the experience.
2. Thanksgiving to God for the presence of a young leader who has obviously garnered the hearts of the younger generation and who will have the opportunity to lead them to a commitment to the world mission enterprise. David Platt is remarkable by anyone’s assessment and we should be grateful to God that he belongs to us.
3. All ancients like me are obligated to do all that we can at what we do best, namely, pray for and encourage in every way Dr. Platt in his responsibilities at the helm of the largest mission-sending enterprise in the world.
4. Recognition that there is not a more important man in the world than the president of the International Mission Board because of his potential to touch so many lives for good and for God. Therefore we must pray God’s intervention in and superintendence over every thought that crosses David Platt’s mind.
5. Openness to new ways of doing the work of Christ. Certainly Dr. Platt will seek counsel. Everything that he suggests will not necessarily be the right way but he deserves an open hearing, which may be difficult for many. We owe it to our new leader to be as open as we possibly can.
6. Acknowledgement of the influx of young people coming into mission focus, which is exactly and precisely what ought to happen. Those of us who are old have one thing in common: We are in the process of leaving this world. Hopefully we leave an important legacy, but no legacy is more important than the young people who will take over and pass the missionary task to the next generation. We must be open to handing that baton.
7. Willingness to do whatever Dr. Platt asks that is not contrary to our deeply held convictions and is within our power. He is highly unlikely to ask us to do anything that violates our convictions anyway, so let us be ready to come alongside him and follow his leadership.
8. Willingness to make sacrifices in order to extend the Kingdom of our Lord. No one who knows David Platt believes that he will not be asking us to make sacrifices, and even though many of us have in fact made sacrifices, if the Gospel is to go to the people of the world, without question Southern Baptists who believe in the world mission enterprise must be prepared for even more sacrifices. We owe this not only to David Platt but also to the Lord.
9. Giving him the opportunity to make 12 mistakes during first year. There are two reasons for this. First, each of us in our respective ministries will make more mistakes than that during the coming months. We can expect no more of David than we can from ourselves. But second, this young man takes on a multi-million-dollar budget with some 5,000 employees scattered across the face of the globe. Just getting his arms around it will be monumental. Rather than arm-chair quarterbacking and criticizing mistakes, let’s give him one a month, and the chances are that no one will even note a serious mistake.
10. Finally, we owe David Platt constant prayer to God for divine wisdom. He has accepted an assignment that no one in his right mind should accept. Only if convinced that God has said do it should one embark upon such a task. Obviously David Platt has prayed it through and he joins the committee and the trustee board in believing that this is his assignment. Given the enormous possibilities for pitfalls, we need to pray that God will grant him wisdom far beyond his years.
Seven billion people await our message of the saving efficacy of Christ. We must not be divided. Please join me in making these 10 commitments to David Platt and may God help us all.
Paige Patterson is president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.