Just announced this afternoon, Sebastian Traeger will resign in November from his position as Executive Vice President of the IMB. See below his comments, set off by ****, and a little commentary from me at the bottom.
Brothers and sisters,
With a full and thankful heart, I am writing this email to let you know that I will soon be transitioning out of my role as Executive Vice President. My heart’s desire is to remain and work alongside you all. At the same time, I am trusting God’s Word in Proverbs 16:9, which says: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” I believe the primary role of an EVP is to lead alongside the president, and in light of David’s transition, I want to respect this opportunity to give our future president total freedom to choose the right person to serve alongside him in the future. Therefore, I will resign effective November 15th (at our next trustee meeting), and will work closely with Clyde between now and then to ensure a seamless leadership transition.
Four years ago, when David asked me to serve as EVP, it was an easy yes. As an active Southern Baptist, I already deeply loved the IMB and its mission, and I was driven by a desire to play my part in getting the gospel to people who have never heard it. Upon accepting this position, I soon came to love the people of the IMB in a way I could not have imagined. It has been a blessing, beyond measure, to work and serve alongside brothers and sisters who sacrifice daily for the sake of the gospel. I have learned so much from so many of you, my family has been extremely blessed by you in visits with you around the world, and we are altogether grateful for each of you.
So thank you. Thank you for the privilege of serving alongside you. Thank you for patience as we worked together through changes (large and small) to move our organization to a place of sound financial footing and to better position IMB to carry out the missionary task today and in years ahead. Most importantly, thank you for your passion to proclaim the gospel and plant churches in some of the hardest places in the world. As I move on to service in the kingdom outside the IMB wherever and however God leads me, I will continually be cheering you on as I remain committed to spending my life as your partner in the gospel for the spread of God’s glory among the nations.
And I will pray that we will continue to be faithful in all our work – pushing hard on the plow, with an open-handed trust in God’s good purposes.
With love and respect, your brother,
So with David Platt leaving at the end of September and Sebastian departing shortly thereafter, we have two empty slots at the very top. The four remaining VPs of the organization are John Brady (Global Engagement), Rodney Freeman (Support Services), Edgar Aponte (Mobilization), and Zane Pratt (Training).
Before looking ahead, let’s remember what Sebastian accomplished. He came in with Platt and surveyed a very difficult financial landscape. He helped formulate a plan which, painful as it was, helped restore a measure of financial stability to the organization. Traeger was instrumental in streamlining processes and reorganizing our somewhat top-heavy sending agency, helping re-focus field roles on the primary task of missions while moving support roles into a parallel avenue of service. He and his team aimed at increasing the professional skill level of those in support roles as befitting an organization with high standards of excellence.
Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to recall the reasons why I used to call him (very playfully) Sebastian The Hatchet Man. He was the face of the team which hacked and chopped and cut very deeply into programs, departments, and personnel in ways that some felt was excessive. Observers have commented on Home Office job postings for positions the leadership team eliminated just months before; seemingly they learned that one man’s chaff is another man’s grain. On the field, opinions collated in a highly scientific fashion (chats) via sophisticated data collection tools (Facebook, iMessage) show varying levels of approval and disapproval, though some unite around two concerns: (1) We don’t really seem more efficient, and in some ways we are less so; and (2) Maybe someday we’ll have someone in that role who better understands how Home Office changes impact field personnel.
Despite the questions, Mr. Traeger served honorably and ably. While changes flowing from his office did not always personally benefit me (the horror), I cannot say his mistakes were worse than anyone else’s have been these last four years, least of all mine. I’m glad he joined us and did some of hardest dirty work our company has seen in the last few decades.
Godspeed, Sebastian, and thank you.