FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson commended 220 college, master’s and doctoral graduates May 5 for their diligence and zeal in their studies to be equipped to “go to the ends of the earth” with the Gospel.
“Even if the ‘ends of the earth’ works out to be just down the street from the seminary, you are going to minister in a tough day and a tough time,” Patterson said during commencement at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus. “We are grateful for all of the students who leave here today. We pray for each of you as you go.”
Preaching from Luke 12, Patterson urged the graduates to forsake living for earthly things and to invest in what is eternal.
“You are following the Master who came to seek and to save that which was lost,” he said. “That is your assignment.”
Obedience in service to Christ will be rewarding, Patterson continued, just not in earthly possessions. “If you live your life in behalf of others, it is amazing what sustenance to the soul such a life is,” he said. “Now you have stored up rewards that will never be taken away in heaven above.”
While money, position and prestige are desired goals for most graduates across the country, those ultimately will not satisfy and are not necessarily reflective of one’s service to Christ, Patterson said. “You are not to seek those things,” he noted.
“A man’s life does not exist in the abundance of the things that he possesses; a man’s life consists in giving his life away to others and to Christ.”
Patterson told the graduates they have two choices in life: “You can live for yourself or you can live for heaven.” He then left them with a final question to consider: “What have I invested in the heavenly bank?”
Among the graduates was Kathryn Boutwell with a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies. Through her training at Southwestern, she said she has gained boldness in sharing her faith, is open and ready to go wherever God calls her, and has received the necessary tools to be ready for ministry.
“Southwestern has equipped me in both my future ministry by giving me a picture of what church planting overseas looks like and my current ministry by teaching me how to look at Scripture and teach simply what is there in God’s Word,” Boutwell said.
Among 27 graduates from Southwestern’s Spanish-language master of theological studies program, many of whom are already key Hispanic leaders in the United States and Latin America, Esteban Vazquez said his studies at Southwestern have given him valuable tools to continue in his ministry.
“I thank God for the opportunity He gives me to continue growing in His knowledge and for the possibility of fulfilling this longing at Southwestern,” Vazquez said. “Every book, every chapter and every forum has not been a task, but a way to grow and apply to everyday life the principles that transform the way of thinking. God is good!”
The day following the Fort Worth graduation, the seminary’s J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston held its commencement ceremony, awarding 17 master’s degrees and two bachelor’s degrees in biblical studies.