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Patterson tells top seminarians to hold their awards ‘lightly’

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–More than 20 Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students received recognition at a special awards chapel service and all in attendance received a fatherly warning from President Paige Patterson May 17 on the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.

Senior John Ashley Nixon of North Port, Ala., in receiving The Broadman & Holman Seminarian Award for having the highest grade point average, attributed his success to prayer.

“I know this sounds strange,” Nixon said, “but I prayed a lot!”

Nixon maintained a 4.0 G.P.A. throughout his three years at Southeastern.

“I tried to keep my study time a form of worship,” he said. “Studying was something I did for God.”

Nixon received a master of divinity and said he used his studies to grow in God, recounting. “As I read my systematic theology, I just tried to learn more about God.”

Nixon will continue praying and studying at Southeastern as he begins work on his Ph.D. in theological studies with a concentration in church history.

After honoring the students’ academic accomplishments, Patterson delivered a message urging them to accept such awards with dignity, yet not let fleeting recognition blur an eternal perspective.

“There will be those human rewards … that will come your way,” Patterson said. “I want to say to all of my students today, to all of you, my children, I want to urge you to be careful that you not think either too much or too little of earthly rewards and awards.”

Patterson noted that rewards may come when others “have observed your life and see those things that are pleasing and helpful, and in some cases those things are from God” and rewards in such cases can be “altogether appropriate.”

Yet, he warned the students never to take too seriously the awards and rewards that come from human hands.

“First of all, though [awards] represent the recognition of your contemporaries, they do not retain permanent value or glory,” he said.

Patterson reminded graduates that any awards that are given on this earth from human hands will eventually dim.

“In fact, every award given by men is an award that cannot be kept and someday you will leave it behind,” he said.

Patterson encouraged his students to work for obtaining eternal recognition.

“I warn you, my children, do not become possessed by anything,” he counseled. “Whatever God gives you in this life through the hands of men hold it lightly. It is yours only for a little while.”

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  • Kelly Davis