KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Annuity Board President O.S. Hawkins challenged Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students to use “the lens of Scripture” to critically assess their attitudes, calling, methods and purpose in seeking future pastoral roles.
The apostle Paul’s description of King David in Acts 13:36 was the basis of Hawkins’ March 2 message focusing on four questions that need to be asked by the potential minister.
First: “Am I a servant? This is a question you need to ask the rest of your life,” said Hawkins. He pointed to David’s ability as a leader and administrator, citing instances when those aspects of his personality came forward.
“Of all the things that could be said about David, Paul called him a servant,” Hawkins noted. Referencing the rare form of the word “servant” which is used by Luke in the New Testament, Hawkins defined Paul’s reference to David as an under-rower.
“Churches need a lot less folks who want to stand on the deck barking orders and a lot more folks who want to be under-rowers,” he said.
Citing the disciples’ argument during the Lord’s Supper over who would be the greatest in the coming kingdom, Hawkins said, “It was at that moment that our Lord got up, girded himself with a towel and taught the greatest object lesson ever taught, as the greatest among them became the servant of all when he began to kneel and wash their feet.”
Hawkins added, “Most of the pastor/friends I know who got into trouble in their church forgot to be servants. They forgot to be foot-washers.”
The second question that needs to be asked is: “Do I have a sense of calling?” Hawkins said.
“David was serving God’s purpose for his life, something higher than a job, something higher than people,” Hawkins said. “He was serving God’s will for his life.
“What is alarming many of us in Baptist life and leadership as we recruit from college campuses,” Hawkins continued, “is how many are looking for professions and so few are talking about a sense of calling.”
Describing Paul as one who saw himself as a called man, Hawkins cited Acts 3:2 to list four aspects of the call of God. Noting a personal aspect, he called attention to the reference to Barnabas and Saul, noting, “There were a lot of folks at the church of Antioch, but not all got this call.” Furthermore, Hawkins said, the call was purposeful. “God is saying, separate them from everybody else.”
The practical aspect of the call, Hawkins said, involved “the work of the ministry.” And in the sense that the call was providential, Hawkins said, “The Holy Spirit sends us, and the church recognizes this and sends us to do the work of the ministry. Sometimes the church calls people God never sends, and sometimes God sends people and the church won’t release them to do the work of the ministry.”
The third question Hawkins asked was, “Do I use 21st-century methods to deliver a first-century message?” Acknowledging the peril of those who have tried to deliver the gospel to today’s culture but have watered the message down, he said, “Words like blood and repentance, and words of the faith are hardly used anymore.”
And while an entire generation lacks the theological base that Christian hymns provide, Hawkins said there are those “who beat their Bibles a little harder and shout a little louder, and have a first-century message, but try to translate it to the modern world with methodology that is foreign to a new culture.
“We have to use the methodology of the generation to reach the generation,” he said.
Hawkins’ final question: “Am I a personal soul-winner?” Hawkins challenged ministers to take the gospel out of the church and into the world, just as Jesus did. “Am I outside? Am I out there sharing the gospel to men and women who are going to fall asleep and die and face God in an eternal judgment?” pleaded Hawkins as he encouraged students to challenge themselves with the question.
“As you go about life in ministry, make sure you continue to look through the lens of Scripture that one day it might be said of you, as it was said of David, that you served God’s purpose in your generation … .”