WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Seek balance and endurance and be a godly example, Richard Land counseled students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as they prepare for future leadership positions.
Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, cited the apostle Paul’s farewell address to the leaders of the Ephesian church in Acts 20 as a model for pastoral ministry, during a chapel address on the Wake Forest, N.C., campus Sept. 5.
Land exhorted the seminarians to preach the whole Word of God, noting that Paul preached the same message of repentance to God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ publicly and from house to house to Jews and Greeks alike.
“When we get into doctrinal error; when we get into personal sin; when we get into problems with God is when we get out of balance,” Land said. “We start focusing on something to the neglect of something else.”
Land cited two examples of pastors without balance — one who knows the flock but lacks study of God’s Word, and one who knows God’s Word but does not know the flock. God’s intention, Land said, is for pastors to know the Word and the people to whom they preach.
“The people out there in the pews are hungry for God’s man to do what God called God’s man to do, and that is to cut straight the entire Word of God,” he said.
“When we run into problems is when we get out of balance. When we do it the way God says to do it, God blesses it…. Every problem we face, every difficulty that arises, every temptation that comes, there is something to say about it in God’s Holy Word — it is sufficient for all. But it must be preached.”
Calling on the seminarians to be people of endurance, Land pointed to Acts 20:24, quoting Paul’s intention to “finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
“We must not only start the journey with a race; we must be determined to finish well,” Land said.
He reminded the students that God called them in his providence and that “there are going to be some days when the only thing that is going to sustain you is that the Holy Ghost called you to do this.”
Calling the pastoral position one of “awesome responsibility and obligation, not privilege,” Land said, “People have a right to expect a man of God to behave like a man of God.
“God has a higher standard for preachers than he does for deacons. And he’s got a higher standard for deacons than he does for church members,” Land said. “We’re going to have to explain to God our watch-care of the souls that have been entrusted to us. It’s an awesome thing.”
As a final exhortation, Land reminded the students to be themselves.
“Be who God called you to be. Do what God called you to do. And always remember whose you are.”