Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Changes to Guidestone's Health Savings Account

I've blogged previously about our move over to the Health Saver 2600, and the great advantage it has been to us. Not long ago I received a rather ominous letter from Guidestone warning me that the HS2600 was being discontinued and replaced with the new HealthSaver 2800. The language of the letter led me to believe that the changes would amount to a weakening of the benefits of the HS2600.

I guessed correctly.

Nevertheless, we're staying with the new HS2800 plan, for reasons that I will detail in this post.

The Current HealthSaver 2600

Under our current coverage, we have a deductible of 2600/5200 with 100% coverage for in-network care above that level. Our church provides the HealthChoice 1000 plan for pastoral staff, but agrees to buy the cheaper HealthSaver 2600 for us and deposit the savings on the monthly premium bill into our Health Savings Account. For this year that amount deposited into our Health Savings Account will top $2700. So, if we spend $2700 on health care out of our pocket, we actually don't spend any money out of our pocket, because we have $2700 that we used to spend on premiums sitting in a debit card account for us to use before we touch any of "our" money. And any of that $2700 that we don't spend really does become our money, to save until next year, or until retirement, accumulating in our Health Savings Account year after year until we use it on health care expenses. Our kids can inherit any of it that we don't spend. It's our money.

This year, there is no level of health care expenses at which the HealthSaver 2600 plan isn't a better deal for us than the HealthChoice 1000—no level of health care expenses where we aren't money-ahead for having the HS2600.

The New HealthSaver 2800

The HealthSaver 2800 features two primary differences from the HS2600. First, the deductibles have risen (as the name suggests) to 2800/5600. Second, (and most significantly) the plan no longer features 100% coverage once you have met the higher deductible. Instead, the plan duplicates the HealthChoice series model of 80/20 coinsurance to a maximum out-of-pocket expense after deductibles: in this case, 3000/6000. That, my friends, is a major difference! And it shows up in the numbers.

The chart given above depicts how much money we make by choosing the HS2800 instead of the HC1000 at varying levels of medical expense for the year. The blue line (generally the best case) represents the financial advantage of switching to the HSA plan if all of the medical expenses are incurred by one individual within the family. The red line (generally the worst case) represents the financial (dis)advantage of switching to the HSA plan if half or less of the medical expenses are incurred by the costliest individual in the family. If the costliest individual in the family represents 75% of our family's annual medical expenses, then the HSA advantage would fall halfway between the red and blue lines. You get the point.

This financial model includes some presumptions:

  • It presumes that all of the money that we save on premiums is placed into our Health Savings Account.

  • It presumes that all of the expenses given are "normal" medical expenses. In other words, none of the following "special" expenses:

    • "Wellness" care, covered at $25 per visit under the HC1000 and at $0 under our HS2800.
    • Prescription drugs, covered with a copay under the HC1000 and treated as normal expenses under our HS2800.
    • Doctors visits, covered at $25 per visit under the HC1000 and treated as normal expenses under our HS2800.

    And I recognize that this one is truly a false presumption, but failure to make it so complicates the math as to put the plans beyond comparison for me.

  • It presumes that we start the year with a $0 balance in our HSA, which we aren't, but the comparisons become invalid if we're applying the benefits of previous years to this year's analysis.

So, in our case, the switch to the Health Saver 2800 is a "sure thing" if our health expenses for the year are anywhere from $0 to around $5400. From there through $17,800 of medical expenses for the year, we are exposed to a potential downside of $108 (if we have that level of medical expenses with no one person costing half or more of the expenses), with a potential upside of $1,332. From 17,800 to 21,000 our downside exposure remains the same, while our upside potential gradually increases to 1,972 bucks (where it stays through infinity). From 21,000 to 35,600 our downside exposure deepens from $108 to $2,828 (where it stays through infinity).

Shedding the math and boiling it down to real life: Unless multiple people in our family have major medical issues next year that put us into the hospital, the Health Saver 2800 remains an upside situation for the Barber family. And we've never had a year like that. Someday, no doubt, we will. But if that kind of year happens as frequently for us as one in every three years (and again, we've NEVER had a year like that), we'll still accumulate enough money in years one and two to more than pay for our losses in year three. We've decided to roll the dice. I re-enrolled tonight.

Am I disappointed in the changes to the plan? You bet I am. But the HS2600, as it turns out, was simply too good a deal to be true (at least for very long). Let's hope that the HS2800 enjoys a longer life. My thanks to the fine folks at Guidestone for providing us with such valuable options for our health insurance needs.


Bob Cleveland said...


The changes you're seeing are just the nature of the thing, sadly.

I spent most of my career in the insurance business, quite a bit with a company that owned and sold a "small-group" health plan. It's a simple, sad fact that the cards are stacked against this sort of plan ever performing well over a long period of time. It doesn't have anything to do with the insurance company, but rather with the nature of the concept and the realities of the insurance market.

While I was still in the business, our church talked to me about it and I finally was able to get them to go with Blue Cross, which they've now had for quite a few years.

The explanation is long, but I'd be happy to explain via email.

Bart Barber said...


I'm just the kind of guy who would enjoy delving into the details. Send me an email. Use my first name and stick it onto the domain fbcfarmersville.com.

Bart Barber said...

To all,

One factor that I left out of my analysis: There are tax advantages to a Health Savings Account. They depend upon your marginal tax rate and the amount that you contribute to the HSA account. In our case, the tax advantages add around $800 to the annual positive benefit of being in an HSA.

Anonymous said...

My family is also in the HSA 2600. What has happened, I believe, is that so many of the "healthy" customers have switched to an HSA plan. In effect, we have taken our higher premiums out of the mix and are not longer "contributing out portion" for the less healthy, more costly customers. This is, in effect, a way to spread the financial load more in our direction. :(

Anonymous said...


You forgot to mention a third change...the premiums are going up. My wife and I are shopping for a non-Guidestone HSA and expect to save about 50% on the premiums.


Feel free to send me the details too.


Bart Barber said...


When I plugged my particulars into this calculator, the monthly premium came out to more than three times my premium with Guidestone. I imagine that their competitiveness varies depending upon (a) whether you have a group, (b) how old you are, (c) whether you are also insuring your family, (d) whether you can pass underwriting, and other stuff that Bob will share with us all. :-)

Anonymous said...

I am divided on the whole issue of HSAs

In Barts case it worked out well because his church agreed to contribute the difference to his HSA - and from what I have read of Bart, he has his head on straight and is a good manager of money.

What I dont like about HSA's is that they are a massive cost shift to the consumer. True, they encourage savings and not running to the doc for every sniffle. They also can have a "wellness" benefit that can be used for physicals, immunizations etc.

My main issues are that one claim can effectively eat up all the savings, and a chronically ill individual (ongoing cancer, diabetic - think expanding waist lines in the SBC :). These costs can wipe an individual out. Hospitals and docs hate HSA plans - they have a very hard time collecting the deductibles causing further cost shifting to standard insured plans - and higher costs for all. Many employers do not contribute one thin dime to the HSA leaving the individal with a very large deductible. How many Pastors can afford a $2,500 deductible for an individual or $5,000 for the family.

That said - HSAs are great for some - they are not a panecea for all - and are as I stated above a massive cost shift to the consumer

If you take that coverage, you might take a look at buying an AFLAC type policy to help take care of some of your first dollar charges.

Jim Champion

Bart Barber said...


I'm not entirely sure that HSAs (and, by implication, HDHPs) are a "massive cost shift to the consumer."

1. Where else could the cost possibly be? Insurance that shifts costs anywhere BUT the consumer/employer will soon go out of business.

2. Instead, HSAs represent a cost shift from insurance premiums to direct payment to providers.

3. My graph represents precisely the question of whether HDHP coverage (specifically, the HS2800) shifts costs to the consumer (i.e., whether it would cost me less or more to choose the HS2800 instead of the HC1000). In some scenarios it does. In some scenarios it doesn't. I wouldn't call any of the scenarios "massive." That is, if my total out-of-pocket is $6,000 with the HC1000 versus $8,828 with the HS2800 for $35,600 worth of medical expenses (the very worst case for me), that additional cost is substantial, but not "massive."

4. The HS2800 wellness benefit is better than the PPO plan benefits for wellness care. My wellness visits cost me nothing (out of my pocket beyond my premiums).

5. I agree with you that, if your church will pay for the HC1000 as an employee benefit for you, but will not agree to purchase a cheaper insurance plan for you and invest the difference into your HSA, then it WOULD be a colossally bad financial move for anyone to make. In effect, if I were in such a situation, I would be decreasing my annual compensation by $2,772.

I don't dispute that there's a church out there somewhere that would flatly refuse to do such a thing, but I've got to think (hope?) that such a church simply hasn't heard a good explanation of what is going on. The church isn't spending a penny more than they would otherwise spend; they're merely allocating the same number of dollars differently.

If your church isn't providing for your health care at all, then my analysis still holds. In such a case, you are simply saving some of your insurance premiums for yourself (and tax-free, to boot!) instead of giving them all to the insurance company. If I put them into my HSA, I MIGHT wind up spending them all on health care. If I give them to my insurance company, I ALREADY HAVE spent them all on health care. An HSA represents my only possibility of keeping any of that money as my own.

Thus, the question is not whether I am a pastor who could afford a $5,800 deductible—even if I could, I wouldn't volunteer to pay it! The open question is whether the HS2800 would actually cost me ANY more than a PPO plan like the HC1000 would cost me. Although the difference in the family deductibles between the two plans is $3,800 dollars, under no circumstance could it actually wind up costing me that much more to go with the HS2800 (because of the premium savings). In the vast majority of scenarios, the HSA costs me less total overall cost than the PPO plan, and it is the only plan that puts money into the Barber family's pockets under any imaginable scenario.

OOPS! I'm starting to sound like a zealot. If I am, it is because I believe that more consumer choice in health care would be a GOOD thing. As you have noted, Jim, it would help us to restrain our elective health care spending, incentivize providers to earn our business, and educate us about the true cost of our health care, which ultimately comes out of OUR individual pockets, whether you think that your employer is paying for it or not.

Anonymous said...

I have blue cross cause the premiums are alot cheaper for our family & I still have a 2500 deductible for one thing or another. Not sure yet what they actually will pay and will not pay.

I recently got 10 stitches to the forehead & an xray. I paid the er copay & am getting new statments each week as to what is being billed and owed. The one I opened today said I owe $300 right now, but the hospital had billed for over $2,000. FOR 10 STITCHES, not counting the fee to have them taken out.

Healthcare systems are oppressing the poor and downtrodden (like me :) )

Maybe we don't need better baptist insurance and savings accounts, maybe we need to put a few travelling doctors on staff for the SBC. Now, that's good CP usage, if you ask me.

Actually, I had the work done at a Baptist Hospital, and am supposed to be receiving a discount cause I'm a minister. Here's hoping to see it soon!


Rob Ayers said...

I also recently received the ominous letter and it was disappointing.

I also received the letter stating the difference in costs between the 2008 HealthSaver 2600 versus the 2009 HealthSaver 2800. The increase in premium for our family per month is about $150 per month with less benefits and higher costs.

At this point I am not disputing the higher costs of health care. Somewhere, somebody, at sometime is going to have to come to grips and find a solution as to how health care is about 100% above current inflation numbers. It is out of control. This is not Guidestone's fault.

I have not had an effective raise in over eight years. My increase has gone into increased premiums for medical care. With the current increase in premium and change in benefits, I am starting to look at the numbers more carefully and doing some research. Currently I can purchase family insurance through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas City with approximately the same benefits (HSA) with a lower deductible (2500 Individual, 3000 Family) for $120 less than I am currently paying NOW for my 2600 Healthsaver. It does not pay for me to stay with Guidestone - I continue to lose money by an average increase of 10-15% per year. In fact BCBSKC offers families a "Premium Blue" policy (including basic dental and eye prescription discounts) for at least $500 cheaper per month than the best offering through Guidestone. Do we have such a small group that the costs of keeping some of our older and sicker folks is costing us this much? I thought in principle that Group policies (depending upon the number of policies) were supposed to be this better deal. I am beginning to think not.


Dave Samples said...


I'm in the same plan for different reasons. I have a chronically ill child and we always max out our deductable. The HSA allowed us to minimize our exposure with the 100%pay after the deductable was met. The new plan still makes sense for us although it doubles our medical expenses for the coming year if everything remains the same otherwise. Thanks for the good and practical post...

Anonymous said...

I dont dislike CDHPs on the surface. However, whenever deductibles/copays/coinsurance are increased it is a shift in cost away from the employer provided health plan to the employee.

If the individual/family is healthy, or wealthy (or both) the CDHP is a win for them - they can build up substantial amounts in thier HSA or HRA accounts - and essentially have $0 deductible accounts as they hae plenty of funds built up within those accounts to pay for higher deductibles.

If we look at how a CDHP might impact a young minister who has the wonderful news that they are going to have a baby. If when the baby is born that young family will have expenses of close to 8 grand - I dont know many young ministers that can handle that cost.

the minister that is not healthy - or has a dependent that is not healthy, will run through thier HRA/HSA in short order and will have large deductibles that they have to contend with each and every year.

I dont know what the premiums are for the other plans - or if they make sense (dollars or otherwise)

It would be interesting to see what the loss ratios are under each of the plans offered by guidestone are to see if to what extent the CDHP plans are supporting the PPO plans - or if the CDHP plans were not properly rated and deductibles and coinsuance is being increased to get that plan to be self supporting.

If you are healthy, it might make sense to look outside the guidestone plans at CDHP offerings by Blues/Humana/United Healthcare etc. You would probably find a very competitively priced plan with the benefits that you liked in the HC1000 plan.

I also like choice and in theory love the CDHP plans, but they have problems that the zealots sometimes overlook :)

If you want something radical - start pushing your congressmen etc to push for true transparency in medical care - everyone pay the same thing for every procedure, have price lists posted etc so that you know when you go to the doc or hospital exactly what the true costs are. There is no reason for things like dialysis to cost $250,000+ per year, or for hospitals to mark some items up 3,000% (yes thats three thousand percent)

Just for example - what do you think that laser eye surgery would cost if it was covered by insurance plans. Currently you can get it for about $1,500/eye or less. An individual goes to the laser eye surgeon and walks out with the exact price of the procedure - try that if you tear up your knee and have to have nee surgery...

I've rampled enough

Jim Champion

Dave Miller said...

HSA's are great for pastors where churches cover the cost of insurance. When I switched, the Heathsaver 2600 premium plus the maximum contribution of the HSA were a benefit to me and a savings to the church.

I too am deeply mourning the passing of HS 2600, and hope its cousin doesn't turn out to be too much of a disappointment.

Dave Miller said...


Your situation is why SBC literature on Pastors Compensation (the best out there) so strongly recommends against "total package" budgeting.

Churches give a pastor a lump sum and let him divide it up. In addition to having legal dangers, it leaves pastors in just such a place as you are at.

They recommend that we have three separate budget categories making up the Financial Support Plan.

compensation is salary, housing and Social security offset if they give it.

Benefits are annuity, health insurance and such.

Professional expenses are those costs incurred in doing business for the church.

If the church separates these, it gives a truer picture. A church may think "we gave our pastor a raise" but if all it did was cover costs of insurance, they have given no effective raise.

I don't negotiate salary or any of that - a personal conviction. But I have lobbied strongly against "total package" budgeting and for the Guidestone set-up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the Guidestone folks? Bart! We pay through the nose for Guidestone insurance when we, as a denomination, could band together to lower our costs considerably. I am disappointed with almost every facet of Guidestone: Overseen by a pastor like ourselves who writes commentaries on our time while drawing the highest salary of all convention employees; Underwriting; No possibility of group insurance within associations or state conventions; high prices, etc. The only redeeming value is that it allows us to use our own doctors. Still, Guidestone is only a middleman between us and Blue Cross Blue Shild, right?

Kudos on your insurance analysis, though. You are the ONE pastor I will fight to replace our commentary writing insurance executive, O.S. Hawkins. When you are in place, though, will you spend 8 hours a day on lowering our premiums?


Rob Ayers said...


The problem in being in a small church is that Pastor's salaries and perks are fungible, no matter how you explain it to the folks- and the fact that the budget pool that pays for everything is smaller than the larger church is a reality. After breakdown, I can truthfully look the IRS in the eye and say that my income was less than $15,000 last year (-housing expense, -health insurance, -annuity payments, -personal expense). Guidestone can print out all sorts of things that they wish and believe that "one size fits all" - it is not going to change reality, or how the small church often times has to conduct business because of their size and ability to pay.

Ben has some great points - what is the response to him? It seems that Guidestone has time to print out a few thousand dollars worth of "Ministers Manuals" - last year after the great big increase they sent me in the package that announced the bad news a mouse pad with a color photo on it (and I am sure printed at some expense). I also understand that they fly in their trustees to big time outings in differing places around the country. If they have the money for all of this, then what about attempting to reduce their take on insurance premiums?



Anonymous said...


As I understand the SBC, the convention sponsored insurance is a self funded plan, but fully insured or self funded the basics are the same

Premium rates = claims plus administration - the only insurance in a large group policy like the SBC's plan is if they buy a policy from an insurance company for the pooling - and I would imagine the SBC would pool at about $300,000 (that is an insurance company would take the risk for any and all claims in excess of 300K per year at a cost of around 12-15/ee/mo)

Blue Cross probably charges about $35/ee/mo for the administration which means that all costs in excess of about $50/ee/mo go to claims.

the claims are probably allocated to the different plans so that the blue cross can suggest funding levels or plan changes to try to keep premium rates as stable as they can.

The problem with a plan like the Guidestone plan, is that as costs increase, the healthier individuals decide that they can get better coverage for a cheaper price elsewhere - leaving behind the sickest/less healthy - the dreaded death spiral.

If there were a way (there is not), to require that ALL SBC churchs purchase thier medical benefits from Guidestone, you would bring back the younger, healthier indivduals which would result in better overall rates.

Jim Champion

Dave Miller said...

I did a cost analysis a few years ago. Guidestone was way higher. But, being overweight and having the dreaded "C" diagnosis attached to my record (just a skin cancer, but still...), I am now stuck with Guidestone, whatever it costs.

In defense of Guidestone, I remember a state pastor's meeting. The speaker basically said something like what Jim said above, but from a slightly different perspective.

He said (in nicer words) that if we want our premiums to go down, then eat right and get off our fat backsides and get some exercise.

SBC pastors are often overweight. We have sedentary, stressful jobs.

Our state exec told me that one major insurer stopped writing group policies for religious organizations a few years ago because of the risks.

We may not smoke or drink, but we Baptists are eating our way into disease and higher premiums.

Anonymous said...

To All -

If you've found good insurance elsewhere, would you please advise the rest of us? What companies do you find offer good insurance?


Anonymous said...

I hope my Guidestone Plan will cover the treatment for the migraine I received trying to analyze all of the data and options available:) Having grown up in a pastor's home when most SBC pastors had no insurance benefits through their churches, I am very appreciative of my family's coverage, and I am very sympathetic to pastors who are either uninsured or underinsured. A pastor friend of mine lost his wife to cancer in the 1970's and he told me that he wrote a check to M.D. Anderson every month for 20 years after her death.
Dave is right about the obesity problem, and I am exhibit A. If I had to go through underwriting, it would be tough.

Bart Barber said...


Having fallen once or twice myself from rational dialogue into diatribe and philippic, it heartens me to know that I am not alone in my weaknesses. Perhaps we can be an encouragement to one another.

First, when our church asked a committee of laymen to perform a comprehensive analysis of health insurance offerings, we found only one company with cheaper rates for comparable insurance. And those rates were not much cheaper. We elected to stay with Guidestone, then number 2 bidder on price, because of the greater portability that Guidestone insurance provided for those who will be staying in ministry in a Southern Baptist context.

Since we performed that evaluation several years ago, our Guidestone premiums have decreased more years than they have increased.

Also, I doubt that you can footnote your claim that Dr. Hawkins is the highest paid Southern Baptist employee, since I have it on good authority that at least one prominent Southern Baptist chief executive (and he doesn't live in Texas) refuses to divulge his salary even to the trustees to whom he is ostensibly accountable.

Either you ought to document to me that you know the salaries of all of our entity heads, or you ought to retract your statement. I'll be happy with either, because I would love to know the salary figure of that particular executive.

Bart Barber said...

Dave Miller,

Your comments about the average health condition of an SBC pastor are well taken.

Anonymous said...

I'd also like for Ben to explain how he knows that Dr. Hawkins spends all of his time writing commentaries. They typically put out one book a year and they are often summaries of sermon series he's written in the past. Heck, some of the titles are reprints of books he wrote years ago. I dare say that he is spending much of his time managing the 400+ employees that GS employs.

And regarding his salary, so what if he is the highest paid exec. in SBC life? None of it is CP money and you don't have to contribute to it if you don't want to. Just go to another company and help pay an even greater salary for another chief exec.

Just remember that of the 400+ employees, many are high skill, high education positions. They are giving stewardship to $10+ billion in assets. GS has to offer competitive wages to these employees or they will lose them to other companies and we will be stuck with inferior employees managing our money. Obviously, having competitive salaries will skew the CEO's salary upwards.

Rob Ayers said...

Every once in a while I here the argument made by anonymous in #23, "...well we have to pay them more because they can get more elsewhere - the market is competitive." I am sure every seminary trained Pastor looks at their educational pedigree and thinks the same thing but rarely is rewarded for it. My wife often looks at my certificates of degrees hanging in my office and notes how professionals with half my education in other fields make ten times the money that I get. I cannot disagree with that, but note that ministry is not about money..it is about...you know ministry!

I am not going to go into depth on the argument if a large church pastor with theological training has the acumen to manage a company with 400 employees and 10 billion worth of assets. In summary I will say that I believe that Southern Baptists are being foolish in that our agencies are often led by former pastors who often do not have the training, talents, or expertise to lead in some of the areas that they are picked for - and in many ways (I will speculate here) they are chosen to lead because of politics and who they know. One of these days it is going to come home to bite us - I just hope it is not Guidestone that suffers this fate because of this particular blindness and lack of wisdom.

Now I will state that I want folks to know what they are doing, and that they should be experts in their fields (in which case then you will have to admit that OS is not an expert). At the same time, working for any Southern Baptist cause should be looked at as "ministry" - irregardless if you are working for the smallest church, or the wealthiest agency. In other words, "it is not about you." It is a higher calling, not intended to make you rich. If you can find other employment elsewhere at better pay, by all means! Those other corporations, remember, do things differently as anon #23 has noted very plainly.


Bart Barber said...


I agree that ministry should be ministry, and should not be conditioned upon money. That is the obligation of the minister and a consistent element of pastoral qualifications—that we not be greedy for money and not serve for sordid gain.

On the one hand, it is my responsibility to serve with all of my heart as one purchased by the blood of Christ and without regard to compensation. It is the responsibility of my congregation, on the other hand, to provide for me generously.

As it pertains to O.S. Hawkins, our seminary professors, our missionaries, and the rest of those who serve in our denomination, you and I find the shoe on the other foot. We are, in that context, those who share material things with those who offer their spiritual service on our behalf. Will we be envious and engage in stinginess, or will we rejoice in what we can give to those who serve us freely and passionately?

As we make our choice, especially as those who are ourselves dependent upon congregational generosity, let us recall something of the Golden Rule that Christ articulated in His Sermon on the Mount.

Rob Ayers said...


I love your use of language. Masterful (and I am not be snarky).

We are not that far apart. I recognize that both congregations and agencies should be generous to their servants. The quote of the Golden Rule is appropriate. And to be clear, I believe that a lot of pastors and a preponderance of seminary professors are vastly underpaid :-).

In the same vein, seminary professors are paid for their expertise. I am certain that no President or Board would approve faculty members who did not have the necessary academic credentials for the position they were being hired for. Generally you should agree that many if not most agency heads (with the possible exception(s) our seminaries) hire former pastors as their CEO's - a position that no one in the Corporate world would hire them for. This may indeed be a topic for another post, however :-).

When front line public school teachers are paid 1/4 of what school administrators are paid there, who then are required to pay for teaching materials out of their own pocket while administration increases their retirement plans, there is a backlash among the public. I don't think most Baptists begrudge our servants their due: "A workman is worthy of his hire." I do think that we get suspicious when we see extravagance at the upper echelons of administration with little sacrifice on their part, and then they call upon us to cough up more dough for services.


Bart Barber said...


It sounds good, but is it the truth?

The "Chairperson of the Board" at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is J Robert Baum, and is neither a medical doctor (he's a professor of entrepreneurship) nor an insurance executive by trade. Perhaps Guidestone's practice is not so far divergent from that of the secular firms working in the same industry space.

Rick Wagoner, the CEO of General Motors, is not an automobile mechanic. He's an economics major from Duke.

Jim Skinner, CEO of McDonalds, did once manage a McDonalds restaurant, but I'm betting that other items on his resume were the ones that landed the job for him.

My brother, Blake Barber, has managed to take his pre-Vet degree in Zoology and lead our family business to its greatest expansion and prosperity ever with manufacturing locations on two continents.

The plain fact of the matter is that the right leader for the job is quite often not the guy with the degrees and pedigrees to make him the safe, non-creative choice. It is quite often the case that someone winds up leading an institution because a person with great demonstrated competency also happens to have a strong relationship with those who own the institution.

Southern Baptists own Guidestone, and we have a great relationship with O. S. Hawkins. What's more, he has proven his strong leadership of that institution. I will not dare to speculate that, had the Lord led him elsewhere, he would lack the skills and acumen to be employable in this field or at this level. Indeed, I think his history has well vindicated him on this question already.

Rob Ayers said...


You need to talk with Jerry Grace. He would probably give you an earful. But since he is busy and does not venture out much, I will take it on (ever so lightly).

You have answered your own question so forcibly that it really does not require a response from me. But since the "dots need to be connected" let me do so.

Of course none of those CEO's are the "backbone" of what their companies represent. Baum is not a doctor, neither Wagoner an auto mechanic. Their academic and life experience lend their expertise in business, finance, and administration. Wagoner probably does not know much about car engineering - and he may not know much about keeping a business afloat looking at the balance sheet of GM lately. But he does have the "expertise" and academic credentials to be a CEO of a major American corporation - otherwise the GM Board would not have hired him - they are out to make money you see.

Hiring a pastor (a person trained in theology and ministry) to run a major business in trust is JUST LIKE hiring that auto-mechanic to run GM. Dr. Hawkins may be gifted with certain administrative skills, and he may have some gifted assistants who handle the business end of it. Like Ben said however - it is just like asking either you or me to take over. All we can do is thank the Lord that even in our lack of wisdom He has kept everything in balance and profitable (so far).


John T. Meche III said...

My wife and I are on the Seminarian plan. It's going up $32 a month for the exact same coverage. And we're required to have health insurance for seminary. *sigh*

Bart Barber said...


I think that everyone feels your pain, for we are all undergoing the same treatment.

Nevertheless, I would challenge slightly the concept of the "same coverage." Even when deductibles, coinsurance rates, and the like are precisely the same as last year, the medical treatments available (and covered by our plans) and the cost of those treatments changes each and every year.

Cat's Dad said...


If you're currently in Health Saver 2600, you can remain in it. Our church's premiums will rise by 10%, but the increase in worth it when you consider the significant decreases in coverage offered by HS 2800, for which 2009 premiums would equal our 2008 HS 2600 amounts.