News Articles

Southeastern graduates called to be men, women of integrity

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Challenged to minister with integrity in the power of God, 153 graduates were awarded degrees May 17 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Delivering the commencement address, Southeastern President Paige Patterson warned graduates to never get ahead of God. “As you go forth to the ministries that God has called you to, never, ever, ever make the mistake of going in the power of the flesh,” he said.
“Wait upon God until the Spirit of God falls in power and in anointing upon you and don’t force the issue in the power of the flesh.”
Patterson said ministers must resist the luring trappings of worldly success. “When that pressure to succeed comes, in order to make something happen, you’re going to feel the urge to do it in the power of the flesh. … You will sense a dissatisfaction with God’s provisions,” he warned.
Inflating church baptismal reports, falsely personalizing sermon illustrations and neglecting to cite sources for sermons are only a few examples, Patterson said, of shortcuts ministers take too often in search of personal acclaim. “When you want something so much that God’s will is not the final determinant, then it won’t be long until you misrepresent things in order to achieve your ends,” he said.
Referring to 2 Kings 5:20-27, Patterson recounted the biblical story of how Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, lied to Naaman, the captain of Syria, in order to acquire the money and lavish clothes Naaman had offered Elisha after the prophet, being used of God, healed Naaman from leprosy.
As was the case with Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, who along with his family and descendants were stricken with leprosy after his deception had been revealed, Patterson warned:
“If you do your ministry the world’s way in the power of the flesh, God will someday expose you, and when he exposes you there will be a terrible price to pay.”
Speaking before an overflow crowd at Binkley Chapel on the Wake Forest, N.C., campus, Patterson exhorted the graduates to be the Elishas of the 21st century.
“Whatever else is said of you at the end of your life, let it be said this is a man or woman of integrity,” Patterson said. “This is a man or woman of God. Without a doubt, they were sold out to the things of God, and the world had no appeal to them.”
Of the 154 degrees awarded, 38 people received diplomas from Southeastern Baptist Theological College and 115 people received seminary degrees, including one graduate who received two seminary degrees.
The breakdown of graduates by degree program is as follows: associate of divinity, 13; bachelor of arts in biblical studies, 25; master of arts in Christian education, 18; master of arts in church music, three; master of arts in counseling ministry, 12; master of divinity, 67; master of divinity with Christian education, eight; master of divinity with counseling ministry, three; master of divinity with church music, one; doctor of ministry, four.

    About the Author

  • Lee Weeks