NEW ORLEANS (BP)–In ministry, attitude is essential, and the only attitude that will reap a harvest in ministry is an attitude of complete confidence in God alone, said Chuck Kelley.
During the seminary’s 83rd annual commencement Dec. 16 in Leavell Chapel, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley conferred degrees on 137 graduates from 21 different academic programs at the diploma, certificate, undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels from the seminary’s main campus and 11 of its 19 extension centers.
In his address to the graduates, Kelley stressed the subject of attitude as critical to the future ministers’ work for Christ.
“Attitude is essential, but it cannot be a supreme confidence in yourself; it cannot be a supreme confidence in your skills; it cannot be a supreme confidence in your tools; it cannot even be a supreme confidence in that certificate or diploma hanging on your wall. It must be a supreme confidence in God and God alone.”
Using the text in Isaiah 40:28-31, Kelley noted passages where God promises to “increase the power of the weak,” and renew the strength of those who wait on him. Kelley said he could promise graduates that they would face situations and circumstances unimaginable at present and that they would face hardships of every kind. With such a prospect in mind, he said it would be unthinkable for students to place their faith in their own strengths in ministry.
“It doesn’t matter what your gifts are, and it doesn’t matter what your strength is, there is a limit to what you will be able to do in ministry,” he said.
The power in ministry, however, comes from God. Kelley noted several biblical characters in dire circumstances through which God demonstrated his power, concluding with the young minister Stephen who, even though he knew he was about to be executed, kept an attitude of submission and confidence in God. The situation became one of many events that led the Jewish leader Saul, a persecutor of the church, to become Paul, the greatest missionary in history.
“You must understand that an attitude of certainty in the power of God and the love of God is the single most critical part of your ministry,” Kelley said.
Kelley told the story of one recent incident that reminded him of God’s ability to take a seemingly difficult situation and use it for his glory.
NOBTS recently purchased a tract of land across the street on Gentilly Boulevard — a tract of land that was once a place known for its criminal activities, and a spot of concern for both the seminary and the surrounding neighborhood. Through a set of providential circumstances unsolicited by NOBTS, the seminary was able to purchase the property, closing the businesses that lay on it.
Just before the purchase, the seminary invited community leaders to the president’s home for a reception, where they were informed about the purchase. Scott Wolfe, a manager for a local convenience store chain, Wagner’s Meat, was there as well. Sometime later, he and his wife visited one of the businesses affected by the purchase simply to get a cup of coffee. The manager had just informed his employees about the purchase, and they were in tears about losing their jobs so close to the holidays.
“We interrupted their meeting and offered them all employment down the street at the new Wagner’s,” Wolfe said in a letter to Kelley. “We told them we would keep their pay the same so that they would not lose their years of service. We invited them to our employee Christmas party … and told them we would start them in one week at other locations until the Chef Highway location opened.
“Dr. Kelley, I tell you this because it is true how the Lord works in mysterious ways,” Wolfe wrote.