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Patterson exhorts Southeastern grads to be sure ‘to walk in God’s ways’

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson told 160 graduates to work as though everything depended on them and pray knowing that God will accomplish his work.
“I challenge you, live and preach as though it all depended on you and pray in truth — as it is — as though it all depended on God, and God’s blessings will be poured out on you as never before,” Patterson said during his spring commencement address at the Wake Forest, N.C., seminary.
Patterson fashioned his charge to the graduates May 23 after the command received by the Old Testament prophet Joshua from the angel of the Lord as recorded in Zechariah 3:1-7.
“I charge you men and women today to walk in God’s ways,” Patterson said in Southeastern’s Binkley Chapel. “If there is the slightest chance remaining in your life that some uncommitted corner of your soul might allow you to slip into the iniquity of the world and defame Christ and the cause of the kingdom by a moral slip, by an ignoble motive to have a big church or a big salary, then please, when you walk out of here with this degree today, turn in your papers and go sell insurance. Do something other than (call yourself) a prophet of God.”
Whatever the measure of success achieved in ministry, Patterson said, don’t forget that a person with God’s calling on his or her life started out like the high priest Joshua who first stood before the angel of the Lord wearing “filthy” garments.
“Remember that you serve the One who was the only One who could ever have forgiven your sins, who could have ever taken the filthy garment of your life and removed it and replaced it with princely garments of praise to the power of God,” Patterson said.
Just as the biblical prophets were the most righteous and godly to stand before Israel, Patterson said those bearing Southeastern diplomas must uphold the same standard in their places of ministry.
“You are, after all, the priest and prophets of the coming generation and consequently you have to have a heart full of love for even your human adversaries,” he said.
Patterson continued: “I do challenge you today to be sure that every corner of your life is flooded with the light of God’s glory and that you walk in his ways and keep his commandments day by day and that you vary not for one moment from the precious truth of this sacred Book,” Patterson said.
Reminding pastors of the grave responsibility they bear, which they still remain ill-equipped to handle on their own, Patterson said, “It is a heavy accountability with which you walk. You must walk into the pulpit with the humility of knowing that you stand there only by the grace of God who has removed your filthy garment and replaced it with a garment of praise.”
Calling for the graduates to be lighthouses for Christ, Patterson sent them out with a word of encouragement: “You are the single lighthouse on the darken cliffs above a raging sea,” he said. “May God grant you that you stoke the fire of the power of the Spirit of the living God in your soul until it burns so brightly that endangered ships out on the sea may see from afar the light that is given and may avoid the treacherous shoals.”
Among the 160 graduates, the following number of degrees were awarded in each degree program: associate of divinity, 9; bachelor of arts in biblical studies, 27; master of arts in Christian education, 11; master of arts in counseling ministry, 11; master of arts in intercultural studies, 1; master of arts in church music, 3; master of divinity, 65; master of divinity with Christian education, 13; master of divinity with counseling ministry, 7; master of divinity with church music, 1; master of divinity with church planting, 1; master of theology, 1; doctor of ministry, 10.

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  • Lee Weeks