Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series by TBMB Executive Director Randy C. Davis. Part Two will appear in the March 10 issue of the Baptist and Reflector.
By Randy C. Davis
TBMB President & Executive Director
One of our Tennessee Baptist pastors recently asked what were things that kept me awake at night and what were five things that got me going in the morning. I’m glad he asked. It’s been a great opportunity to evaluate if my personal and ministry goals align with what I hope the Lord wants to accomplish through me.
So here they are — the five things that keep me up at night:
I have had a burden for the eternal destiny of friends, family and people in general since I came to faith in Christ. The day Granny Davis died, I read in her Bible a note written in 1956: “I am standing in the gap for my dear children so that one day they will be a circle unbroken, together in heaven forever.”
She was a powerful prayer warrior, praying by name for the salvation of every family member.
The vast number of spiritually lost Tennesseans hit me in 2010 shortly after I became TBMB Executive Director. I’ve lost sleep over it. Simultaneously I’ve realized the seismic decline in the number of people being saved, baptized and discipled by Tennessee and Southern Baptist Churches, more than 30 percent over the past four decades. Meanwhile, the population of Tennessee has nearly doubled since 1955 when we last saw our highest number of people come to Christ. My mantra? “Any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field.”
The COVID-19 death count in Tennessee will surpass 12,000 by the time you read this column. We’ve all lost friends and family who occupied our pews and filled our pulpits. The numbers are decreasing as more people are vaccinated, yet my concern is for family, friends and our churches trying to respond to the pandemic-induced needs in their communities. Friends, stay vigilant. We are not out of the woods.
A near empty pipeline
Most Tennessee Baptist pastors and ministry leaders are older than 50. I know and interact regularly with many incredible younger ministry leaders, but we need more. There is a shortage.
I was recently the guest lecturer in a seminary class and asked the question, “How many of you believe you were called by God to ministry?”
Shockingly, only one-fourth of the class identified as being called. Other responses were, “I’m just checking out career options,” and “I’m not sure; just felt I should further my education.”
This situation is critical. Churches are desperately seeking pastors and associates. From where will the next generation of God-called leaders come? The pipeline is drying up.
I do not fear making mistakes; I fear missed opportunities. We must be aware of opportunities the Lord puts in our paths.
Karen King is a sweet lady in Sevier County who for years has been the financial director for the school system. There is no shortage of challenges balancing the system’s budget. But Karen sees every problem and challenge as a God-given opportunity.
If it has been a difficult day, she smiles and says, “Today I had a lot of opportunities.” We never want to be so tied to the routine that we miss opportunities when God is doing “a new thing” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
I genuinely desire to please two people in this life: Jesus and my wife Jeanne – in that order.
Pastor Steven Lawson said, “If you please God, it does not matter whom you displease. And if you displease Him, it does not matter whom you please.”
My personal mission statement is, “I desire to live my life in such complete obedience to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that when I die, I still have the love and respect of my wife and children because I was found faithful to Christ.”
If you become so concerned with pleasing everyone at the expense of being obedient to Christ, then you will please no one. You’ll also find yourself void of peace, joy and a meaningful life, and you’ll say “yes” to everything that comes your way.
No priorities, no order. No order, no peace or purpose. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). As the great old hymn admonishes, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”
That’s the five biggest things that keep me up at night. How about you? What’s keeping you up at night?
Now, I can’t wait to share the five things that get me going in the morning. Those are the things that make the journey exciting and the challenges worth it.
And speaking of that, it is a joy to be on this journey with you.