What I must change
Certainly, this post was at least partly prompted by the incredible number of sad and tragic events in my denomination. The Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in mid-June in Dallas. In a recent post, my son, Sam, wrote about these horrific events.
For sure, the brutal reality of the calendar and my impending 63rd birthday caused me to pause and write this public missive.
But more, far more, has been the conviction of God’s Spirit in my life. While I have been prone to judge the fallen and the offenders in the melodrama of my denomination, God has reminded me again how fallen I am, how sinful I am, and how I am unworthy to cast the first stone.
Making a self-evaluation
It is perhaps for accountability, and perhaps for confession, that I write about changes I must make. Perhaps these points will prompt your own self-evaluation and reflection.
- I must change and be more obedient in sharing the gospel. I exhort others to do so, but I am far too disobedient myself.
- I must change and increase my time in the Word and in prayer. Too often, I let the tyranny of the urgent replace the priority of time with God. If I sound foolish, it is because I am, and because I have been.
- I must change how I seek my identity. My identity should be first in Christ. And my identity should also be as a family man. My greatest titles are “husband,” “Dad,” and “Rad Rad,” not “CEO” or “Dr. Rainer.” Too often I seek the accolades of others instead of pleasing Christ and serving my family.
- I must change the depth and breadth of how I love my local church. I must serve with greater joy, give with greater commitment, and worship with greater abandon.
- I must change my involvement in denominational politics. Indeed, I must flee from denominational politics. My involvement breaks my heart and hurts my soul.
- I must change from a posture of silence to one of courage when others are hurt, marginalized, or abused. My silence is too often a deafening endorsement of injustice and wrongdoing.
God is working
This list is neither complete nor exhaustive. God is still working on me. He knows I need a lot of work. I am not sure what paths I will take in the weeks and months ahead, but I know I need to be on His path and not my own.
I am no less a sinner subject to failure and to fall than anyone else. So, I must change.
With the few years I have left, I must change.
Let me be clearer and more biblical: I must ask God to change me. It is not by my strength nor by my might, but by the Spirit of the Lord that I can change.
And then, and only then, will I dare to whisper, “My life was not lived in vain.”
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Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is also a former pastor, seminary dean, and leader of a consulting firm. Rainer is the author or co-author of 25 books, including his latest release from B&H Publishing Group: Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church. His 2013 book, I Am a Church Member, has sold more than one million copies.
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