The Executive Committee Presidential Search Team announced Tuesday that they have found “God’s candidate” to lead the Southern Baptist Convention’s administrative entity. The announcement comes nearly eleven months after the position of EC President was vacated by Frank Page.
I have no doubt that the search team has rightly prayed and sought God’s guidance throughout the process. They are, therefore, convinced that they have found the right person to lead the EC. EC Chairman Mike Stone said, “God was guiding us.” I am thankful that they experienced the guidance of the Lord throughout the process. Stone also said, “Your committee has been both unanimous and unified at every single turn.” I think that is a good sign.
However, I do have some concerns about the announcement that they have found “God’s candidate.” My primary concern is that it short-circuits the process.
According to the search team, God’s candidate had not yet been told that he was God’s candidate at the time the search team announced that they have settled on a candidate. What if God’s candidate decides that he’s not God’s candidate? Would that mean that God led the search team astray? I’m sure the search team was convinced that the candidate they have chosen would accept the position when they made their announcement, but their announcement sure didn’t leave any room for him to change his mind. Maybe that was intentional.
The search team also said that the candidate’s name will be announced at some point in the near future. I’m sure the search team has selected a qualified candidate, but what if Southern Baptists have concerns about the candidate once his name is announced? Should those concerns not be voiced since he is “God’s candidate”? Questioning the decision of a search team seems like a pretty Baptist thing to do. Questioning God? Well, that’s another thing all together. In claiming that they have found “God’s candidate,” it seems that the search team has essentially elevated their decision above any kind of scrutiny. Maybe that wasn’t their intent, but we do know they didn’t take too kindly to criticism regarding their consideration of minority candidates.
The final step in this process will be a vote of the entire Executive Committee. The search team selects a candidate, but they do not choose an EC President. That responsibility belongs to the entire EC. In claiming that they have found “God’s candidate,” it seems the search team has declared that a vote of the entire EC is an unnecessary procedural formality. They have essentially announced that any votes cast against their candidate will be votes against God Himself instead of just votes against the candidate. That’s probably not their intent, but it is the effect of the announcement they made.
The point is that we should stop referring to our decisions as God’s decisions. Sometimes the decisions we make prove to be bad decisions. Churches sometimes call bad pastors. SBC entities sometimes hire bad leaders. Is God to be blamed when that happens? I think not.
So, let’s pray and seek the Lord’s direction. Let’s do what we feel like the Lord is leading us to do. But let’s do so with appropriate humility. The will of the Lord is perfect, but our ability to discern God’s will is not.