FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–James T. Draper Jr., president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources, challenged students and faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to consider the call, scope and challenges of ministry.
“Without the assurance of the call of God on your life, you will not make it in ministry,” Draper said in March 3-4 lectures at the Fort Worth, Texas campus. “The ministry is a terrible vocation,” he said, “but it is a wonderful calling.”
A pastor’s call will keep him faithful during difficult times and humble when people tell him how great he is, Draper also noted.
Draper, in a second lecture, drew on New Testament terms that describe the role of a pastor. At the core of all descriptions, he said, the role of servant fuels everything else.
“At a time when American businesses are abandoning the concept of CEO, the church is embracing it, and many churches are led by pastors who see themselves as CEOs,” Draper said. “My contention without apology is that this is patently false.”
Other terms used in Scripture include pastor, herald, ambassador, overseer, elder, steward, prisoner of Christ, saint, messenger, apostle, disciple, co-worker with God, teacher and witness.
“All of these terms give us the scope of what ministry is, and the role of the pastor as servant tells you how to do all these things,” Draper said. “Miss that, and you’ll misuse all these different assignments in the scope of ministry.”
In his final lecture, Draper discussed the challenges of ministry. A pastor’s relationship with the Lord, he said, lies in the crosshairs of the enemy.
“You must be moving upward in your relationship with the Lord,” Draper said, “and nobody thinks that you need it, and they will not help you make time for it. You just have to do it.”
Draper spoke of the need for pastors to use their God-given influence to impact the Kingdom.
“You are a steward of your influence,” Draper said. “Whatever God has brought into your life, whatever He has allowed you to do, whatever success you have, whatever disappointments and failures you may experience, all of them form a tapestry of experience that you are to share.”
Draper, who formerly served on the seminary’s board of trustees, earned a bachelor of divinity, later converted into a master of divinity, in 1961.
Southwestern had combined its annual Huber L. Drumwright Lectures on New Testament and Jesse and Fannie Northcutt Lectures on Preaching and Pastoral Ministries this year and invited Draper to deliver the series.
Drumwright, a former pastor, served on the New Testament faculty at Southwestern for nearly 30 years and was dean of the school of theology for seven years. Minette Williams Drumwright Pratt, as a memorial to her late husband, established the Huber L. Drumwright Lectures in New Testament at Southwestern Seminary in 1987.
Northcutt served at Southwestern Seminary for more than 40 years as a professor, dean and vice president. The Jesse and Fannie Northcutt Lectures on Preaching and Pastoral Ministries were established in 1976 by the board of trustees. They have been funded by gifts from benefactors, friends and family.
Keith Collier writes for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.