Thursday, June 14, 2018

About the Presidential Succession at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

For the three people in the Southern Baptist Convention who ever thought this might be a good idea (Hi, Mom!), I want to declare early and definitively that I will in no way whatsoever be a candidate for the presidency at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I hereby offer my Sherman Statement: If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.

It's not that I would find the assignment distasteful. To everyone who has mentioned it (Hi, Mom!), I'm deeply flattered. If there is a man among us who doesn't have an ego, it isn't me. My ego loves the idea that anyone would think of me in that way. What's more, I love SWBTS, love the mission of SWBTS, love the students of SWBTS, and love the faculty of SWBTS. I'd be in the middle of the school I love, giving of myself to lead it. I think I'd enjoy that. Whoever steps into the helm at SWBTS steps into a blessing, in my opinion. What's more, I think I wouldn't entirely stink at it. But I will not in any way entertain the idea.

My reasoning is simple. I have played an instrumental and public role in causing the office of the president to become vacant. It strikes me as unseemly for anyone involved in vacating an office such as this one subsequently to fill it. Such happenings fuel conspiracy theories and undermine confidence in our polity and our convention entities, and I want no part in doing that. There are people who can do as good a job or better who have in no way whatsoever been involved in this. I love the school too much not to defer to one of those other potential leaders, whoever they may be, such that the transition is clean and above reproach (a good, important, biblical word).

What's more, I'm happy at First Baptist Church of Farmersville. If you're happy, stay happy.

It's not just the presidency, by the way. I do not plan to join the faculty, join the administration, or any other such thing. I plan to be (very soon) the former trustee who hangs around at campus events and who gives his widow's mite to the school. I'd leave the door open maybe after my term of service as a trustee has come to an end to teach the occasional adjunct class as I did before I was a trustee, if anyone would have me.

Why make this declaration? Because Southern Baptists can sometimes be a rumor-loving, conspiracy-imagining people. We're better when we don't do that, and I want to be a part of making us better.