“We are going to have a meeting of the minds.” I have made that statement so many times that the expression has become a trite one. Perhaps you feel the same way.
Recently, I was a participant in a meeting of the hearts. Our new Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president, J.D. Greear, called for a gathering of southern state convention executive directors, and I was privileged to be able to attend.
In this meeting of the hearts, J.D. offered excellent leadership in guiding the discussion through some significant areas of concern and interest. He highlighted his six initiatives that he feels the Lord has led him to address during his tenure.
Two major areas of discussion were given much attention. One was related to the need for a greater emphasis upon evangelism in the SBC. J.D. shared his heart about his passion to see people come to know Christ. The room was filled with an atmosphere of amens.
He gave testimony to an effort in his church to focus on personal witnessing. He told the group that he is asking his church family to consider the question, “Who is your one?” Who is the one person you are seeking to help come to know Christ? That simple question resonated with the group. More will come from our president in the near future related to that soul-stirring question.
J.D. shared the same passion as others in that group who want to see a major missional mobilization of college and university students as they seek to find God’s will for their lives. This is something dear to the hearts of state convention leaders as well. This is an important emphasis of our new president, and state conventions are already in the game on this one.
I left the meeting of the hearts encouraged and inspired. I began asking myself, “What can I do to help our SBC president as he leads us in these challenging days?”
I determined to do several things now and in the near future.
First, I have dedicated myself to pray intentionally for J.D. Greear. I am praying for him as he seeks the will of God, with the wisdom of God for his leadership in SBC life.
Further, I am praying for his family. He has relatively young children, and the demands upon him as president of the SBC and as pastor of his church are incalculable.
In addition, I am going to remember his church family in prayer, especially his staff as they assist him with the duties and responsibilities he faces.
Second, I have dedicated myself to partner with him intentionally. J.D. graciously asked us the question, “How can I serve you?”
I quickly responded that we are not accustomed to hearing that kind of question, and then I asked myself when was the last time I said to a president of the SBC: “How can I serve you?”
It is a two-way street. Partnership, healthy partnership, is built on the foundation of mutual trust and personal sacrifice. I left that gathering thankful for a leader who would ask us that servant-focused question.
I also left committed to asking him that question when the opportunities present themselves.
Third, I have dedicated myself to participate with him intentionally in leading the SBC annual meeting in Birmingham next year. Not since 1941 has Birmingham hosted the SBC meeting. I want Alabama Baptists to participate in this convention in record numbers. What all that means is not yet fully realized, but the opportunity to welcome our Southern Baptist family to Birmingham should be something we take seriously.
Yes, my fellow state executive directors had a meeting of the hearts with our new SBC president, and I left with my heart being strangely warmed. I believe my colleagues did as well.
In that meeting of the hearts, I felt as though we were all on the same team. I was convinced that this was a good way to begin presidential leadership.
Thank you, Mr. President, for this meeting of the hearts. Thanks for asking us how you can serve us. Thanks for allowing us to pray for you and to discuss with you what we can do together as you lead us in the days to come.
I believe we had a genuine meeting of the hearts. I pray for more to come.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rick Lance is a state missionary and executive director of the Alabama State Board of Missions. J.D. Greear’s six initiatives are listed in this BR story. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)