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FIRST-PERSON: We must find a way forward together

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NASHVILLE (BP) – One of the most difficult challenges of leadership is to rise up and lead people forward together. I know I cannot fix every problem in the Southern Baptist Convention. What I can do is rise beyond my own preferences and desires in order to be part of something greater than myself.

Anytime we lower ourselves to pettiness in our thinking and conduct, we become deceived into thinking we have to speak to every issue and solve every problem. When this occurs, we find ourselves being tossed and turned as we try to survive the tumultuous waters of leadership. There is no future when a leader chooses this path.

This is certainly not the path to progress, but the path to regression. Nor is it the path to growth, but the path to decline.

Schisms, factions and divisions are never good, whether they occur within a family, church or even in our Southern Baptist Family.

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We must find a way forward together.

How Do We Find the Way Forward Together?

  1. Experience personal spiritual renewal

Every morning we must rise and spend quality time with God personally. We act the way we act sometimes because we are not living and abiding in Jesus Christ our Lord. When we would rather check our phone first than open the Bible and talk to God about our life, we indict ourselves.

We need personal spiritual renewal. We need spiritual renewal in our churches. We need to be filled anew with the Holy Spirit daily. When we are content to live life and do church without the filling of the Holy Spirit of God and the power of God, then we will get what we are getting right now: schisms, factions and divisions. This is not the way forward.

We must find the way forward together with the presence and power of God.

  1. Develop healthy relationships collectively

When we are not being filled with the Holy Spirit and operating with the power of God, dividing walls are built between us and celebrated. When our relationship with God is right, then most, if not all, of our relationships with others will be healthy.

The challenge before us is how our world is so filled with groups who identify with one another around an idea or a cause. While this is certainly not new, it is not the way forward together.

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When an “us versus them” mentality exists within the Christian community, shame on all of us. We need to get things right with God and one another. We are family, not enemies.

This does not mean we neglect our problems or just try to get along. It does mean we need to conduct ourselves in a respectful and healthy manner as we dialogue in biblical conversations.

When we are doing this responsibly, we are getting to know other people by listening to them and valuing who they are as people, not focused on what they can bring to our life or contribute to our specific cause.

We must find the way forward together by having and developing healthy relationships collectively.

  1. Focus continually on the Great Commission

Historically, Southern Baptist pastors and churches have been driven by the Great Commission. Each pastor and church eventually learn the only way forward together is continually focusing on the Great Commission. This will move us forward through the challenges we face, lead us to operate above the fray, and live for something bigger than any of us and our churches. This is the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.

Anything that is not accelerating the Great Commission locally, statewide, nationally and internationally is nothing more than a dead-end street!

That is why we must rise up in Nashville at our 2021 SBC Annual Meeting on June 15-16, and be driven by something bigger than ourselves and bigger than our own churches.

When we live, dialogue, deliberate and decide our future together, we need to do all of this knowing the end from the beginning. We must do all these things by always envisioning eternity – where every nation, tribe, people and language will be represented at the throne of God, worshiping Jesus Christ.

This is the way forward together.

Now is the time to lead.