LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The alarm clock is going off in the fight for America’s soul, so it is no time for seminary graduates to “push their snooze buttons,” Ronnie Floyd warned at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 178th commencement Dec. 13.
Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference and chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, told the 114 graduating seminarians and 2,000 guests sin “abounds in our nation because sin abounds in the church.”
“The alarm clock is going off in America and I want to tell each of you graduates that this is no time to push the snooze button. You need to become a difference-maker,” said Floyd, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark.
He implored the graduates “not to sit back and watch colleagues” carry the fight against Satan, but to get their strength from the Lord Jesus to be difference-makers. He referred the graduates to Philippians 4:13 and Romans 8:37, telling them to draw upon these promises as they encounter trials in their personal lives and ministries.
“You are to be a champion and to make a difference for Jesus Christ wherever you go,” Floyd said. “This institution reeks with tradition and now you have the opportunity not to take this institution with you but to go with God and with what this institution has taught you — and go make a difference around the world.
“Remember, the difference you make in others will never be any greater than the difference Jesus makes in you,” Floyd said. “Let God use you to wake up dead churches, to sound the alarm in the classrooms, to blow the trumpet in the cities, to let them know in a humble way that Jesus wants to use you to make a difference in their lives, their cities and their churches.”
Floyd urged the graduates to let Jesus make a difference in their lives by spending time with him every day. “The degree he works in your life daily, which is largely dependent on the time you spend with him personally, will be the degree that God uses you to make a difference. The most important time any of you will ever spend will be the time you spend with God alone. God will never take you to a level of public ministry that he has not equipped you in power during your devotional time in your private place, your secret place with him.”
Floyd told the graduates to make a difference in their families as well. Churches come and go and ministries come and go, so “don’t ever sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry.” He said churches are looking for men and women who make their own families a priority.
Floyd also urged the graduates to make a difference in their ministries. “You have one shot with your life. There are no dress rehearsals in ministry. Don’t let Satan put a lie in your heart by saying, ‘One day when I get to this level, I’m really going to pay the price.’ If you’re not making a difference now, 30 years from now, no matter how big your church is, you won’t make a difference then.”
He also told the graduates to make a difference as a leader. “Difference-makers don’t walk away. They are tenacious pit bulldogs. Difference-makers understand leadership and that leadership is influence. Be the kind of leader that influences people in a positive way. Be courageous. This country needs men and women of God to tand for truth and for God’s Word. Leave a legacy that brings glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Thirty-nine graduates received the master of divinity degree; 17 the master of arts in Christian education; 10 the master of divinity in Christian education; 13 the master of divinity in missions; two the master of arts in missiology; three the master of church music; and one the master of theology. The school also awarded 16 doctor of ministry and 12 doctor of philosophy degrees. One diploma in theology also was awarded.