Talk about a blow to your self-esteem.
The prophet Samuel showed up to Jesse’s home to anoint the man who would be the next king of Israel since God had rejected disobedient Saul. Jesse paraded his seven oldest sons before Samuel, bursting with pride that one of the young men before him would be king. But as Samuel reviewed each one, the Lord told him no. “This is not the one.” Finally, Samuel asked Jesse if this was all his sons and Jesse finally remembered little Davey out with the sheep.
Can you imagine that? David was so insignificant that his own father did not consider him worth bringing before the prophet. That must sting! But when the prophet saw him, God spoke his approval and David was anointed king of Israel.
Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
We now have two openings at the top of our entities and social media is abuzz with discussions about them. There is nothing wrong with that. The SBC is a better place now that social media has given a voice to average Baptists.
Before David Platt’s announcement even went public I was hearing rampant speculation about his replacement. People logged on to Voices immediately after the announcement to say this person or that should be elected. Such unofficial nominations are appropriate and permissible in the free church world of Southern Baptists. When the Executive Committee job came open, the process went viral. This coincided with the MLK50 conference and a tweet by one of the Southern Baptists I respect the most, Vance Pitman, that Kevin Smith should be considered as the first non-white entity leader. In the interests of full disclosure, while I do not know Kevin Smith, several members of the “Brain Trust” here at Voices not only know him but are beyond enthusiastic about the idea. It may be that Kevin is the right man for this job at this time.
No one should be chastised for championing a candidate. It is right and good that we do so – especially in the case of minority candidates that are often overlooked in the SBC’s hiring process. As Baptists, it is our right and duty to voice our opinions, but we also need to realize that the right choice is often not the obvious choice. Our prayer should be that every search team would make a thorough and prayerful effort to find the right man for the job. The right choice, not the obvious choice!
- Remember that even his own father didn’t think David was qualified and capable to be king, and he is recognized as the greatest ruler in Israel’s history.
- Moses was a failure in every way, herding sheep on the backside of the desert until God lit a fire under him and sent him to Egypt. He was no one’s obvious choice for the deliverer of Israel. He spent all of Exodus 3 and 4 explaining to God why he made the wrong choice.
- The disciples were an inept band of bozos who never understood much of what Jesus said and messed up at every opportunity – right up until they were filled with the Spirit. No leadership consultant would have recommended them as the kind of folks a man would want to build a movement on, would he?
- Saul was the greatest enemy of the church, so when God was looking for his first missionary, he knocked him to the ground on the road to Damascus. God said, “I need a missionary, I think I’ll choose my #1 enemy and give him the job.” God does not think as we do, does he?
- How about we bring this to modern times? I remember when this 33-year-old whippersnapper was named as the president at Southern. No one saw that one coming. I realize that Dr. Mohler has his detractors, but Southern has become the largest SBC (and I think evangelical) seminary and Dr. Mohler is one of the key leaders in the Christian world today.
- Outside of academic circles, the reaction to the announcement of MBTS’ most recent presidential hire was, “Jason who?” He was not one of the most well-known figures in SBC life. But what is happening at Midwestern borders on the miraculous. They just announced that Andreas Kostenberger has been hired. No telling what MBTS will be in 10 years – if only I can convince them that Midwestern should be MWBTS!
Some of our best hires have not been obvious choices. Al Gore had not yet invented the internet when Dr. Mohler was hired and I don’t remember if there were named being floated for the Midwestern presidency, but the Trustees did their due diligence and the convention has prospered. I don’t know the process that went into hiring Dr. Jeff Iorg at Gateway but I am tremendously impressed with him – I don’t know if he was the obvious choice there. Some of our leaders were obvious choices (Dr. Moore) and I don’t really know the stories on others (Rainer, Ezell, etc).
The obvious choice is not always the best choice. The popular man is not always God’s man.
There is a passage that I consider formative in both theology and ministry, Isaiah 55:8-9.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not my ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
“For as heaven is higher than earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God’s intelligence and purposes are beyond our ken; so we can share our wisdom, but in the end, we need to trust him to work.
So, go ahead and recommend your favorite candidate for the current job openings or those that will come next. But let us realize that God’s choice may be herding sheep somewhere in solitude and we don’t have all of the information yet. Our wisdom is incomplete and God knows what he is doing. Let us pray that our Trustees will listen to all of us, but will do their due diligence and fulfill their duty. May they conduct careful searches, prayerfully seeking the person God would lead them to.
God might surprise us with leaders far beyond anything we can imagine. We need men of the character and passion of David, even if they are not the obvious choices that everyone is looking at. Let us pray that God will empower our search teams, give them wisdom, and lead them to the right house in Bethlehem.