Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Emerging Leaders or Submerging Servants?"---A Response

In a forthcoming edition of the Florida Baptist Witness, there is an opinion piece entitled "Emerging Leaders of Submerging Servants?" submitted by North Carolina pastor Ben Brammer, a 26-year-old Ph.D. student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In this article Brammer makes the accusation that a number of younger pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention are "jockeying for leadership" within the SBC and do not show proper appreciation and respect for those who led the Conservative Resurgence. His message is similar to what Ergun Caner said about younger SBCers a few weeks ago, but Brammer is much more tactful.

Brammer seems to place SBC bloggers at the top of this list of younger Baptists who are demanding positions of leadership: "Some younger Baptists are under the assumption that leadership is a right available to anyone with an opinion and a weblog." I personally would like to see a list of young SBC bloggers who are insisting that they be given leadership roles in the SBC. My observation, from an insider's perspective, is that most of us young SBC bloggers have publicly stated on numerous occasions that we are not interested in obtaining leadership positions within the SBC. If that were our goal, we would be cozying up to those who comprise the "Good Ol' Boy" network instead of criticizing this system that allows a handful of people to exercise almost complete control over the entities of the SBC. If that were our goal, we would not be publicly opposing the growing trend of exclusivism and separatism that some of our entities and leaders are moving us toward. If that were our goal, we would not be calling for reform within the SBC, but we would support the status quo that our leaders have established.

Brammer accuses many young SBCers of "doublespeak," which is another term for calling us hypocrites. I will admit that all of us have been guilty of that at one time or another. Not just the bloggers, not just young SBCers, but ALL of us. Is it doublespeak for seminary trustees to tell students that the president's job is not in jeopardy and the next day to lock him out of his office? Is it doublespeak for another seminary president to refer to a fire-truck baptistry as "blasphemous" but then endorse the pastor who uses such "blasphemous" methods for the presidency of the SBC? If the current generation is guilty of employing "doublespeak," remember that we learned it from some of our elders.

Brammer seems not to understand that there is a difference between having appreciation and respect for someone and turning a blind eye to anything they do that is questionable. I personally have a great deal of respect for those who led the Conservative Resurgence. I am grateful that we have a convention that unashamedly holds to the Bible as the inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God. But this does not mean that I am going to idolize those who led the Resurgence or ignore it when they do something that is questionable or even wrong.

Brammer also accuses many younger Baptists of being "obsessed with personalities." I almost laughed when I read this. All one has to do is look at the list of SBC leaders endorsing Ronnie Floyd to see that name-dropping is prevalent among our convention leaders. To be honest, I haven't really seen many younger Baptists bragging about who they know. I have to confess, I did comment on David Rogers' blog that I met his father at the 2005 SBC Pastors' Conference and found him to be a very gracious and humble man. Maybe my comment is what Brammer is referring to.

Perhaps Brammer has forgotten that the effort to bring younger SBCers to the leadership table was not initiated by any of these younger Baptists but by one of the most respected leaders within the SBC, Jimmy Draper. Draper began his Younger Leader initiative NOT because there were so many young Baptists demanding positions of leadership, but because many young Baptists displayed little or no interest in the SBC at all. Younger Baptists were not jockeying for leadership within the SBC; they were questioning the relevance of the SBC to their ministry. In reality, much of the activity that Brammer sees as "jockeying for leadership" in the SBC is really an effort on the part of younger Baptists to see not if there is a place for us at the SBC leadership table, but to see if there is a place for us in the SBC period.

(HT: Art Rogers)

19 comments:

Kiki Cherry said...

Tim,

Great article once again.

I had to laugh at the concept that we are jockeying for leadership. : )

I really was just writing a blog.....

Bro. Robin said...

Tim

I have enough responsibility on my plate as a husband, father, and a pastor of a 150 member church. Why would I want to make my life more hectic with another position of responsibility? I thought with the blog I was adding to the discussion.

Jockeying for position? What a laugh!

steve w said...

Well said, Tim. Good job.

Kevin Bussey said...

Tim,

You are right on! Double speak was taught by a famous person from Arkansas wasn't it? I did not have......

Bro. Robin said...

Tim

After reading his article again, I wonder what led him to think that "some" bloggers are jockeying for position? Is this based on objective data, confessions, or subjective thought? If I was to subjectively judge his heart's intent by his article, I would say he is trying to earn brownie points from those who have leadership positions in the convention. But, I will give the benefit of the doubt and concede that he is truly concerned over some harsh things that have been said. (This is only my subjective opinion)

I am concerned over condemning accusations without proof. Yes, I have read harsh blogs that I didn't think were appropriate, but to make blanket statements without evidence of the heart is not wise. May we all learn from this and approach these next few years with grace and humility before pointing fingers. I being chief among my fellow brothers and sister.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Tim,

So, even if most Baptist Bloggers are NOT jockeying for position, are SOME of us doing so? Are MOST of us doing so a little bit?

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Paul said...

Right on, Tim.

Now, since I'm a personality seeker I'm off to bask in the afterglow of the spiritual giants who walk among us. Maybe I can borrow some tanning lotion from Ben.

CW said...

Tim, this was an outstanding article and I really appreciated your comments about learning from our elders.

Most of the pastors I know in their early twenties or late thirties could care less about denominational life and do not desire any position of leadership. In fact, it is seen as something to be avoided, like jury duty.

Brammer has been inhaling too much mold and dust and needs to put his books down and exit the library immediately. His article was either a hit piece for the ruling elite or someone who is clueless, but cannot help sharing his opinion.

art rogers said...

Tim,

A comprehensive evaluation, to be sure.

Ben accuses young leaders and bloggers of seeking positions of power because we criticize the power structure? Isn't it more likely that he is the one seeking the approval of those whose feet he claims we shoud wash? That line is telling, to me.

Also, I think that he accuses us of being personality worshipers because of the general support in the blogosphere for Wade. I think that is diercted at him and those who support him specifically.

In contrast, have you ever seen the throng of pastors that clamor around Jerry Falwell at the SBC, seeking for him to autograph things - like Bibles, on occasion?

Jamie Wootten said...

Tim,
And you didn't even address the comment Ben made about how we are neglecting our pastoral duties due to the time we spend blogging. I think that one irritated me the most.

GuyMuse said...

Tim, there's a saying they have in Latinamerica, "no tiene pelos en la lengua" meaning "no hairs on the tongue"--you said it straight, loud and clear! If you preach this way too, I would love to hear you preach!

Phillips Lynn said...

Tim,

AMEN! and AMEN! and AMEN!

Great article.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Art,

Does that mean you won't sign my laptop at the convention?

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Dorcas said...

Jury duty! That's funny. Maybe we should put all the pastor's names in a hat and send out notices each year.

Dear Reverend Sweatman:
This is your notice to report for SBC Leadership duty. Please bring your bible and a yellow legal pad with you to Room A-12 of the convention hall to stand in line to receive your assignment. If you do not arrive on time and attired in business professional garb, the leadership coordinator will send out the intern squad to collect your person and deliver you to Room A-12. Unlike jury duty, there are no exceptions given to SBC leadership duty. If you ever want to preach in your town again, you will show up in Room A-12 at the designated day and time.

Sincerely,
Your friendly administrative staff

Alan Cross said...

Tim,

Outstanding post! I could not have said what I feel better than you did. My main concern is to see the right things happen. You articulated my feelings exactly. Keep up the good work, especially your last paragraph.

By the way, anyone think about those pesky IMB policies lately. Are the doors closed there? Do we just have to deal with it?

CB Scott said...

Tim,

Well said, thank you.

cb

Tim Sweatman said...

Jeff,

I have no way of knowing what anyone's motives are. All I can go by is what they say and do. Based on my observations, I don't believe that most bloggers are jockeying for position. I would surmise that some are doing so, but not most. Of course, if I'm wrong about this then that means we have a huge integrity problem.


Jamie,

I thought that statement was out of line as well, but I didn't think of how to address it until now. Were the leaders of the Resurgence neglecting their pastoral duties by devoting their time and effort to the Resurgence?


Dorcas,

That's one way to deal with the SBC Recycling Program. BTW, is that the approach you use to recruit volunteers to work with the children? :)

Jamie Wootten said...

Tim,

In case no one has seen it, Ben has posted a follow up to his article over on his blog

www.benbrammer.blogspot.com

I think for the most part he does a pretty good job of bringing clarity to MOST of what he originally wrote. I still find a bit of hypocrisy with his statement about neglecting pastoral duties b/c of blogging since he too has entered the blog world as a pastor.

I think the lesson to learn is that people need to choose their words carefully before firing off a public letter that could be perceived as an attack.

John Stickley said...

I, too, was a bit miffed at Ben's article, and dissected it quite a bit on my blog last week.

After exchanging a couple e-mails with Ben, I must say that I feel much better about his article. The tone of it still leaves MUCH to be desired, but his heart is in the right place. Re-read it sometime, and try to ignore the inflammatory statements... he does make a couple good points.