This week, I complete 20 years as the Executive Director-Treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO).
To spend 20 years in one ministry is a significant marker in life. I have given much thought and prayer regarding the way I would communicate with you concerning this point on the continuum of life. Frankly, I have hit delete several times while writing this article, in some cases after having written a full-length article.
The temptation was great to take a look back over the years and give a list of accomplishments. After all, it is more fun to applaud the victories rather than become depressed over the defeats. And believe me, there have been both. Satan has been faithful to throw down seemingly insurmountable obstacles as I seek to advance the work of Oklahoma Baptists. But be assured, God has been up to every challenge, even when the leader was weak and struggling to walk in faith.
I also considered writing an article filled with visions and dreams for the future of BGCO corporate ministry. Oklahoma Baptists have a great future in cooperative work for the glory of God. Because of Oklahoma Baptists’ generous nature, commitment to God’s Word, passion for personal evangelism, and unique unity, the BGCO is poised for continued effectiveness in the work of His Kingdom.
Another idea for this article was to talk about the challenges Oklahoma Baptist churches face and our “together ministry” in years to come. I decided there was not enough room to begin that discussion—religious liberty, moral and ethical issues, nationalization of ministry, and the looming monetary problems that will soon strike the work of the church and convention because of the lack of stewardship by future generations. Doctrinal and methodological issues abound, and the unity we once enjoyed as Southern Baptists is more fragile now than in many years.
In essence, it would take a year’s worth of writing to address even a cursory approach to any of the areas I have mentioned above. I am choosing to leave my musings, prophetic voice, and even on occasion, pontificating, to another time and place.
What I want to say, as I cross the 20-year mark of service, is simple and straightforward. “THANK YOU, OKLAHOMA BAPTISTS, FOR ALLOWING ME TO LEAD YOU!” I am unworthy of your kindness and followship and am humbled beyond words that you would entrust such a great work into my hands as a leader. Thank you for working with me and thank you for giving, serving, and demonstrating the love of Christ. Thank you for believing and showing your commitment to cooperative ministry through the Cooperative Program. You are a good and faithful people, and I am blessed beyond measure to serve you.
Polla and I want to bow before you in humble acknowledgement of your trust. The words of the psalmist are real to us. We are privileged to “serve the Lord with gladness” among His people—Oklahoma Baptists.