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FIRST-PERSON: How the Lord established the steps of the EC search team

Jeff and Ann Iorg are greeted by SBC Executive Committee members following Iorg's unanimous election as EC president March 21. Photo by Adam Covington

Editor’s note: Sarah Rogers is a homemaker from Greenville, S.C., and a member of the SBC Executive Committee’s Presidential Search Team.

Proverbs 16:9 illuminates an idea we easily forget: we make all the plans we like, but the Lord directs, or establishes, our steps. Maybe, like me, you’re the parent of teenagers who love making plans with their friends. They scheme  to put their plan into effect working out all the kinks that arise. A surprising amount of focused attention, time, thought and many texts are spent creating the perfect plan. Once they have it worked out, the final version of the plan is brought to me because I have the authority to change it (direct it) or approve it (establish it).

Why does the Lord give His children the opportunity to work hard in thinking through a plan in the first place? Why not lay out for us what the plan should be and tell us to follow it? Serving with the President Search Team for the Executive Committee of the SBC (hereafter referred to affectionately as the PST) provided many occasions for us to ask these questions. We spent thousands of hours of prayer and phone calls to make sure due diligence was done with each candidate. Along the way, I found myself disappointed and frustrated, while also rejoicing that God did not give us a blueprint from the beginning.

I rejoice despite a missing blueprint because it caused our faith to grow as we sought His will. The PST’s chairman, Neal Hughes, consistently modeled dependence on the Lord through prayer and led us to follow his example the last 10 months. The Lord brought a diverse team together and used our unique gifts and insights along the way. In spite of our differences, we were willing to listen to one another and disagree in love so that the team was united and various opinions were heard and welcomed. The beauty of God’s design in the cooperation of believers spurring each other on to seek His will together leaves me humbled.

I rejoice despite a missing blueprint because it invited us to recognize His authority and power to change or confirm our plans. In 2 Kings 19, God sends Isaiah with a message to King Hezekiah about the King of Assyria that can be summarized with verse 25: “Have you not heard? I designed it long ago; I planned it in days gone by. I have now brought it to pass.” His authority is over all creation – causing kingdoms to rise and fall according to His plan. As this PST made plans to pursue different candidates, we encountered the Lord’s plan which differed from ours at times. He protected us from unwise plans and changed hearts to draw them in line with His plan, which is far better than what we can ask or imagine. The care of God to go before us and direct our steps leaves me thankful.

Lastly, I rejoice despite a missing blueprint because it invited us to recognize His glory. Many hours were invested in laboring over what this role entails and who could fill it. We came to realize that this job is complex. The person called to this role must be a leader gifted by God and dependent on Him to accomplish the necessary objectives. But our exchanges also convinced us that this gifted leader must be excellent at recognizing that he is but one member working along with Southern Baptists toward a shared objective: the fame and honor of King Jesus. Our IMB and NAMB missionaries and church planters, our churches with their faithful members and pastors, our state and local associations, and our national entities unite in one goal — that the “earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14) The glory of God and His worth leaves me worshipping.

We’re thankful Dr. Iorg is our new Executive Committee president and have full confidence that he will direct this Committee to press on to seek, follow, and worship the God who will lead us forward. Now that our team has reached the end, we agree with full conviction with the Psalmist, “Not to us, but to Your Name give glory because of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1) I am grateful to personally experience these attributes of God as we’ve made it our aim to faithfully follow His leading. Even though God did not give us a blueprint, He’s proven that His plans are better and His ways are trustworthy. We know God will not give Southern Baptists the full blueprint of what He’s going to do in the coming years, but we’ve once again been reminded that He’s fully capable of establishing our steps.

    About the Author

  • Sarah Rogers