LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Ministers of the Gospel must have minds, motives and methodologies calibrated to glorify God even when God places them in circumstances they would not have chosen, Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page told students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Page, preaching from Philippians 1:12-20 in chapel Sept. 5, said ministers often wind up in circumstances that were not in their plans. Like the Apostle Paul, who preached the Gospel while chained between two prison guards, ministers must seek to advance the Gospel regardless of their personal situation.
Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., was elected SBC president during the mid-June convention in Greensboro, N.C.
“The chains gave Paul the opportunity to minister to the lost in ways he had never envisioned before,” Page said. “Imagine the soldiers that were chained to this man. Here is a man who is going to be singing hymns at all hours of the night, a man who is going to be talking about Jesus whether they wanted him to or not…. [Paul’s imprisonment] also gave him an opportunity to spread the Gospel in Caesar’s household.
“We desperately need to see our circumstances with that same kind of mindset. [Believers must ask,] ‘God have you placed me where I am so that I might bring glory to You, so that I might share the Good News with those whom You have put into my traffic pattern of life? What is the reason You have got me here?’”
While many people spend their lives trying to reorient their circumstances so that life will be more comfortable, Page encouraged ministers to live in a way that demonstrates a mind set on glorifying God in any and all circumstances.
“This mindset of trying to change circumstances actually holds people back,” Page said. “[As ministers,] you have to have the mindset that [says,] ‘No matter where I am, I am to bring glory to Christ.’”
Page said he never expected to be in his present circumstances as president of the SBC, but he hopes to carry out God’s agenda while serving as head of the convention.
“It is my desire as president of the SBC that someway, somehow, I would get to advance the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Page said. “I do not deserve to be in this position. I never wanted this position. I have asked God to use this unworthy vessel for the furtherance of [His] Gospel.”
Page urged the seminary audience to examine their motives regularly. A minister of the Gospel must promote God’s agenda and not his own, he said. The glory of God — and not self-exaltation or a private agenda — must be the driving motive of every Gospel minister, he said.
As leader of the SBC, Page said he wants to help the convention resist the temptation to think that it belongs to a small group of people. In the same way, Page encouraged ministers to fight the urge to think that they own the local church in which they serve.
“As the Southern Baptist Convention, we desperately need to check our motives,” he said. “We need to be careful never to think that we own this convention. When you begin to think that you own it, [you will also think] therefore you have the right to control it. I do not own it. I cannot control it.
“You also go to churches and there will be people in them that think they own those churches. And if you are not careful, you will get into the same mindset with a motive that says, ‘I own it, therefore, I control it.’ It does not belong to you nor does this convention belong to you or to me or to some group within the convention. It belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And the church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ and we must seek to serve it with a motive [that says,] ‘It is not about making me feel better or making me feel like a big man. It is about God and His Kingdom and His glory.’”
A minister also must guard the methodology he uses in leading a church ensures that God is honored, Page said.
“It does matter what your methodology is,” he said. “There are methods out there that do not bring glory to Christ. There are ways of doing church that we ought not do. They do not bring glory to Christ. So we need to check our methodology [and ask,] ‘Is what we are doing pure and right? Does even our methodology bring glory to Christ?’”