(NOTE: Kevin Ezell was elected as President of the North American Mission Board. The BP article did not tell what the vote count was. Congratulations Dr. Ezell!)
I have not been involved in the debate about whether Kevin Ezell is qualified to be the president of NAMB. From everything I have been told, he is a talented leader and perhaps exactly the kind of visionary administrator that NAMB needs. We cannot afford a continuation of instability and dysfunction at the helm of this important mission organization. From what I have read, Ezell may be exactly what that organization needs.
On the other hand, there are some serious questions about his candidacy. He will head an SBC agency but he has a spotty record of support for the Cooperative Program. The GCR emphasized increased CP giving, but the first hire post-GCR is a man who has not demonstrated a strong commitment to SBC cooperation. Can he call us to give more generously to the CP with his church’s record on this issue? He will be overseeing the cooperative agreements with state conventions, but has not shown much support for state conventions either. I would recommend reading William Thornton at SBC Plodder for a series of posts with some logical and reasonable questions. These are legitimate questions and I would love to hear Ezell’s answers to them.
I’ve taken a middle ground on the Ezell nomination. He sounds like a good man and may be perfect for NAMB leadership, but he also has some reasonable questions he needed to answer.
The Wrong Kind of Answer
But, faced with some questions about his giving, he has lashed out at those who would dare to question him in a way that can only be described as arrogant, demeaning and obstructive. Unfortunately, Baptist Press did not cover these comments (as best I can tell) but they can be found in an article at ABP, called “NAMB presidential nominee defends church’s giving record.”
Frankly, what he said to his church, if it is accurately quoted, demonstrates a dangerous arrogance. I hope it is a misquote, or at least is not indicative of the way he will deal with those who ask him questions in the future. He said:
“Because of the visibility of the position, there are people across the United States who want to look for things that perhaps I do not do as well or they think we should do different, and perhaps be critical of myself or of Highview, just to try to get their name in the paper,” he said. “Typically those are bloggers who live with their mother and wear a housecoat during the day. Just ignore them, but I apologize if you are hurt by anything that they might say about me or indirectly about you.”
Wow! Anyone who would dare to question Kevin Ezell is:
- Someone who WANTS TO look for things he does not do well. He is questioning the motives of those who would dare to question him. They harbor ill-will and do not have legitimate questions. It couldn’t be that we have a deep concern for the CP, for the SBC, and for NAMB and its mission that we have some legitimate questions for the man who is going to lead us in this endeavor. No. Those who would dare to question him are simply nit-pickers, the nattering nabobs of negativity in the modern-day SBC.
- They do this “just to try to get their name in the paper.” They are attention-seekers, not people with legitimate concerns.
- And here, of course, is the coup-de-grace. They are “bloggers who live with their mother and wear a housecoat during the day.” Frankly, I’m sick of bloggers being insulted in this way. Should we expect that when he becomes NAMB president, he will level insults at anyone who questions him? Will he attack those who ask him questions? I don’t know William Thorton, but I do not think he lives with his mother or wears a housecoat. Peter Lumpkins has infuriated me a few times, but I don’t think he deserves this kind of derisive dismissal of his concerns.
- Of course, the fact that Kevin Ezell ignores is that the strongest voices against him have not been nerdy bloggers like us, but state convention presidents – the very people he will have to work with when he gets the job. He chooses to belittle us rather than deal with the questions in a serious way.
- Then, his final response was this. “Ignore them.” If we have genuine questions, can we expect Kevin Ezell to simply ignore us? Is he above responding to serious questions by serious people?
Please understand, I have been in general a SUPPORTER of Kevin Ezell. I think he might be exactly the kind of man we need. But this kind of response to genuine questions bothers me a lot. These are some legitimate and real questions that he should answer about how he can lead an SBC entity after his denominational support has been somewhat tepid. He should respond to the questions, not attack those who ask them!
If this is the kind of arrogance and personal attack we can expect from the NAMB president, we may be in trouble. I have no real hope that Kevin Ezell will read this, but he needs to understand something. When you are the senior pastor of a megachurch, you may have unbridled authority that puts you beyond being questioned, but that is not so in an SBC entity. If elected, you will be a servant, not a master, Pastor Ezell. We will have the right to ask you questions and to expect that you will answer them.
And we will expect that when we do ask questions, you will not, in fact, insult and belittle us.