FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Paige Patterson urged graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to continually strive for integrity and to respond in obedience to God’s call in ministry.
“All across America, students are graduating from colleges and universities, and the one thing most of them will not be told is to be men and women of integrity,” Patterson, president of Southwestern, told graduates during the seminary’s fall commencement on Dec. 16. A total of 169 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students graduated.
But the position of these Christian graduates, he argued, is considerably different from that of many others.
“You have no choice if you receive the blessings of God but to be men and women of absolute and total integrity,” Patterson said. “Even when it hurts, to be truthful and righteous before God is the only answer for a successful ministry.”
Patterson preached from Luke 1, wherein Zechariah is told that his wife will bear a child who will be named John. Patterson said of the naming of John the Baptist, “When the moment came for their decision to be made, Zechariah gave the name he was instructed to give his son. Zechariah was being obedient.”
“May I say to you students today,” Patterson noted, “that integrity is the first matter in the formula for the blessings of God; the second is obedience to God.” Patterson warned graduates that as they serve in local churches and on the mission field, their ministries will be filled with obstacles and difficulties.
“It is going to be a miserable existence out there unless you discover obedience to God,” Patterson said. “Wherever God calls you to go, whatever He asks you to do, and whatever the scenario that comes from God, be obedient to it.
“Obedience will make all the difference in the world in the ministry God gives you,” he said.
One of the students that Patterson challenged that day was Cassandra Ellis. She received a master of divinity, with an emphasis on missions and biblical counseling.
As she responds to God’s call to serve on the mission field, Ellis said she is eager to utilize her biblical counseling skills to counsel and minister to other missionary families.
“My time here at Southwestern has given me invaluable knowledge on how to minister to these families,” Ellis said. “I am excited about where the Lord will take my family and how He will use me to glorify Him. I am thankful for this school and the men and women who make it possible for us students to be equipped and ready to work.”