Sent to lead? Perhaps. Sent to serve? Absolutely. These words were part of a charge given to the spring 2016 graduates of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C.
During the May 20 commencement ceremony, President Danny Akin encouraged the seminary and college graduates to follow Christ’s model of service.
Jennifer Barnett receives her Doctor of Education diploma from SEBTS President Danny Akin and Director of Ed.D. Studies Ken Coley at the spring commencement ceremony on May 20.
“The greatest person who ever lived and walked on this earth was a humble servant,” Akin said. “He got down low so that he might lift others up. And now he calls us, those who follow him, to do the same.”
Southeastern’s 63rd graduating class included a total of 237 students receiving 42 undergraduate, 172 graduate and 23 doctoral degrees.
Drawing inspiration from the life of Scottish missionary John Keith Falconer (1856-1887), Akin asked listeners to consider why a young man would leave everything behind to serve Christ in Yemen and ultimately die at an early age.
In quoting Falconer, Akin said, “I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light.”
This radical idea, according to Akin, came from none other than Jesus Christ himself. In Mark 10:45, Jesus made a promise that no other ruler or king has or could ever make. “He came to serve,” Akin said. “He came to burn the candle of his life for you and for me.”
After encouraging students to have ministries marked by Christ-like service and sacrifice, he turned his attention to guests who have not believed in Christ. Clearly explaining that the gospel is meant for them and forgiveness can be theirs, Akin said, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. The God who is in heaven will forgive you.”
Akin then sent graduates out into their ministries with words that have become a motto for every Southeastern student: “Because He came, we must go.”