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First Thoughts

My Endorsement for SBC President

The Way Leadership Works

When God does a great work, he raises up a great leader. This is an obvious fact of Scripture. When God delivered his people from Egypt, he raised up Moses. When God wanted to rebuild his temple and Jerusalem, he raised up Ezra and Nehemiah. When God wanted to preach salvation to the Gentiles, he raised up Paul. Examples could be multiplied with David, Gideon, Elijah, Peter, John, and Jesus himself.

What is true in Scripture is also true in Church history. Whenever God has given revival, he has given an Edwards, a Whitfield, a Wesley, a Spurgeon, or a Graham.

A rule of redemptive history is that when God’s people are floundering, they are absent a leader.

And Southern Baptists are floundering.

A Leadership Problem

One of the reasons Southern Baptists have been able to cooperate across a massive convention is because of faithful leadership. There have always been respected leaders who held the confidence of Baptists. These leaders have been able to rally Southern Baptists to support the cause of faithfulness throughout many trying times.

In these particular times, Southern Baptists are splintering in countless directions amid a buzz saw of problems because there isn’t a leader who has been able to unite the various groups and captivate the heart of our denomination.

We need to fix this problem quickly, and we have a chance to do it at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting this June. The SBC president has a remarkable ability either to bring focus and unity or to distract and divide. Southern Baptists must find a president that can bring focus and unity in these distracting and divisive times.

I think most Southern Baptists understand this. That is why you are going to start seeing a lot of maneuvering and a lot of announcements coming very soon about who is going to stand for election as president, and who we should all support.

We will all be watching this together.

Before all that starts, I want to provide the description of the man who will get my vote for SBC president in Anaheim.

Five Key Qualifications for President

I am voting for a godly man. The New Testament is clear that leaders in Christ’s church are imperfect people who are, nevertheless, characterized by godliness (1 Timothy 3:1-7). This requirement is far too crucial to take for granted. A godly man can focus on ministry and help the rest of us focus on ministry. When a leader is not walking in godliness, we will focus on him and his sin instead of focusing on the work. A godly leader keeps our eyes on Jesus. We can afford no distractions from that at any point, much less now.

I am voting for a man who has integrity as a preacher of the Word. The Apostle Paul commands, “In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7-8). Since the conservative resurgence, the presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention have always been known as faithful and anointed preachers. There is no way to lead a convention of churches and preachers without being respected as a preacher.

I am voting for a man who is neither racist nor woke. Racism and wokeness are both hateful distortions of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must have a president who will spurn the hatred of racism and the hatred that accuses everyone of racism. An open and obvious rejection of each of these ungodly extremes is the only way to stay faithful to the Christ who brought unity in his atonement (Ephesians 2:11-22) and get about the urgent work of preaching that atonement to every nation, people, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 7:9).

I am voting for a man who is defined by transparent integrity. If Southern Baptists were clear about anything at the annual meeting in Nashville, it is that they have no time for any conspiratorial cover ups. They want to walk in the light and expose the darkness to light. This desire is good and biblical. We can only figure out how to engage in responsible transparency when we have a leader who is himself transparent with nothing to conceal, and no interest in concealing relevant information from our convention.

I am voting for a man who will put first things first. I am not looking for an SBC president that I agree with on everything. I am looking for a president who knows that Southern Baptists have united for the purpose of taking the gospel to the nations, and who knows that the basis of that unity is in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. We do not need to fight about everything because it is not necessary to agree on everything. We only need to be united around the most important things. I am voting for a man who can help us keep our eye on the ball.

I am endorsing as president any man who meets all five of these qualifications.

Will the Next President Please Stand Up?

Honestly, these qualifications are not complicated, and should not be controversial.

We are a massive convention with thousands of churches, and millions of people. This leader is out there. All Southern Baptists need to do is find him, and vote for him.

Dr. Heath Lambert is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He is the author of several books, including The Great Love of God: Encountering God’s Heart for a Hostile World. 

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