Time for G.R.I.T.T.Y. Leadership in the SBC
- sand or stone grains
- texture of grains
- 4. firmness of character
The GCR Task force has given its report. Tweets are flying. Positions are being taken. Debate is occurring. Now what?
Another way I’ve heard this question expressed is, “Ok, so how do we get there from here? What is the path?”
I’m neither a historian nor a fortune teller but a look at the past would tell me that the answer is not found in the perfect plan but in the right leadership. In June I’m sure a plan will be approved but it will not be the perfect system. The answer is not found in breaking historic commitments or renewing them. The answer is not found in the perfectly worded vision statement or in changing our jargon about acceptable Baptist giving. So how do we find our way forward to a brighter Southern Baptist future?
My answer? G.R.I.T.T.Y. Leadership. This epoch is an irrevocable moment in time for which leaders of a different kind are needed.
Let me explain.
To illustrate my point, it’s taken the gritty leadership of Johnny Hunt to get us to the point of recommending a GCR Task Force, approving and selecting a representative GCR Task Force, plodding through the task of the GCR Task Force and finally presenting an initial GCR Task Force Report. Whether you like the outcome or not, we’re talking gritty leadership against some serious barriers! I’m glad we have the report and I love the fact that Johnny has not ignored our uncertain future. On the contrary, Johnny Hunt has led the SBC to address the harsh reality that we must change our system in order to address the realities of today and tomorrow. The GCR Task Force Report is nice (intentional understatement), but what it took to get there is what is earth shattering to me.
My point is that hope for a brighter SBC future is not found in this report or that – this proposal or that. Hope is found in Christ as he is lived out through refreshing, catalytic, leaders such as Johnny has exemplified. What I’m praying for is three more of those G.R.I.T.T.Y. leaders.
While I am concerned that the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention not be an un-godly brawl, I’m not too worried about the tightness of the documents presented. A brawl at the convention will cost us the next generation of Southern Baptists. I’m very concerned that we exercise godliness in our handling of this matter. Please, Holy Spirit, protect us from pettiness in Orlando.
I am most concerned that catalytic change agents of a different kind be put in positions of influence. Scott Brewer, who prodded me to give my thoughts on this, recently said in a private exchange, “We are at the end of where we have been.” No truer statement has been made about our current crossroad.
Even if we can agree on something in Orlando, my hope for the future is not so much in the formula or the plan on which we settle. My deepest burden and my greatest hope for our denominations is the selection of the right kind of leaders in key vacancies.
In the past, denominational leaders would have paid their dues, having sat on the correct committees and most of all having been connected in the right ways. I believe Johnny Hunt began this process in order to issue in a new generation and a different kind of leader. The potential leaders about whom I’m referring object to the old good-ole-boy system and thus would be self-disqualified for lack of participation in the old vetting process. In other words, the leaders of the future may not be found on the right committees and do not want to take the time to become acceptable within the existing system. Nevertheless, those young catalytic leaders are in the wings and must be found in our midst. Young catalytic leaders of the future SBC must be measured by a different stick than the one used to measure the leaders of the old SBC.
I’m praying that God will guide current trustees and Southern Baptist decision-makers to prayerfully seek and find leaders who represent the SBC of tomorrow, not the SBC of yesterday.
What type of leader is needed to build the SBC of tomorrow? G.R.I.T.T.Y. leaders.
Grit may be a small granule but its persistent and irritating quality matched with a firmness of character plays a defining and prophetic role. It takes a tiny piece of grit imbedded within an oyster to create a beautiful pearl.
Currently, many of our children are going elsewhere for their mission connection in our cities and in the world. That’s ok for them, but it’s telling for our denomination. If we’re honest, it really bothers us that our children and grandchildren don’t value our SBC in the same way that we value it. We have also seen the stats that tell us that we are in decline and that lostness is on the rise. This SBC crisis of the future is the impetus that demands a transitioning SBC. While change is needed, we dare not throw out the baby with the bath water – we just need the right leaders who will examine the tub and make sure they identify where the baby and the bather water part. Thus, my conclusion is don’t give me a perfect resolution to pass, give me godly, catalytic leaders who will serve as grit in the oyster.
GRITTY leadership is what we need to produce the pearl of a renewed SBC for our children and grandchildren.
So what is a G.R.I.T.T.Y. Leader? (Forgive the acronym – I could not resist.)
Gifted for the task. If the new NAMB is going to be about church planting in the cities of North America then we need more than a statesmen as NAMB president. We need a NAMB leader who is a city church planter at heart. If the IMB is going to be about serving churches to reach the least reached around the world and at home, then we need a mission strategist who is experienced at reaching the lost around the world and in the US. If the executive leadership of this denomination is going to chart a course for the future then we need to find an executive committee leader who has innovated a non-traditional course under extraordinary circumstances among a younger population. These are just examples of the kind of giftedness needed. For each role we need the person appropriately gifted and skilled for the daunting task ahead of him. Since our children and grandchildren value authenticity over glitz and perfect planning, we need leaders in all of these key positions to be transparent and innovative. For the generations that come, leadership is about being someone whose DNA and way of life reflects the desired outcome. In other words, don’t give me a leader who points me to the path. Give me a leader who will lead me by living it out. I’m praying that God will lead us to gifted leaders who understand the realities of global lostness and the North American church context of tomorrow.
Righteous in Christ and empowered by God’s Spirit. Grit is solid in character and that character is strong enough to withstand great tension. If there is ever a time when solid character is needed, it is now. The leaders who will issue in an SBC of the future will suffer immense criticism and enormous attack. Their character must be unblemished if they are to weather the storm and remain fixed upon our Lord’s direction for our future. As godly leaders, their character must reflect Kingdom rather than self-serving values. Righteous leadership will be found through prayer and fasting.
Innovative leaders. I’m not convinced that at the upcoming SBC gathering we can all agree upon and vote in the most innovative plan. In fact too much innovation at this point would create havoc. I am convinced that if the IMB, NAMB, and Executive leaders of the future are innovators, that God will lead these godly men to develop the new plans that will create the path for our children. Innovative leaders are not managers. Innovative leaders are thinkers, strategists, and dreamers. Innovative leaders are intelligent risk takers who are forward leaning rather than historically inclined. More than ever, we need innovative leaders who are empowered to lead.
Tested leaders. This is where it gets tricky. Some would say that young leaders simply are not tested. However, there are exceptions. A young leader may have been through the necessary experiences in ministry and life to be well tested. Although tested leaders are more often than not, older, we have some tremendous young leaders in our midst. For the task we face as Southern Baptists, the leaders who will carry this burden must be tested but they must also be young enough to be able to dream a new dream and carry it through to fruition.
Temperate leaders. I’m not suggesting we find meek and mild leaders. Instead, I’m praying that God will lead us to bold leaders whose lives reflect Godly self-control. Such is the fruit that grows out of a close walk with our living Lord. Power, influence and access to great resources all have a corrupting influence. The leaders, on whose shoulders the future is carried, must be humble, and temperate in character. Such comes through suffering and walking with Jesus.
Younger leaders. I’m not suggesting a twenty-something leader. However, I am suggesting that younger leaders are needed at this time in order to build their future and ours. Young leaders have everything to gain by shaping the DNA, and by building the plans and systems for the SBC of tomorrow. This is not the time to hand our future to older leaders, whose vision is built off of memories of yesterday and whose inclination is to bolster the past and maintain the present course. A new course is required. I trust that God will place His vision for the future in the hearts of young leaders. And I pray that those selecting them will look far enough and pray hard enough to prophetically select today, the leaders of tomorrow.
My greatest burden and prayer is for the ones who are making these important decisions about our future – the selection committees that are choosing the leaders of the new SBC.
Will you pray with me for our future SBC leaders?