Pastors challenged to remain faithful to the endby C. Walter Overman
The annual North Carolina Baptist Pastors’ Conference, held Nov. 10-11 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro prior to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Annual Meeting, focused on the theme “A Lasting Legacy,” based on 1 Corinthians 1:6.
Speakers included Lee Pigg, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe; evangelist Junior Hill of Hartselle, Ala.; Ken Trivette, president and director of Native American Missions; David Gallamore, pastor of Rock Springs Baptist Church in Easley, S.C.; Mike Whitson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Indian Trail; Jeff Laborg, east campus pastor of First Baptist Church of Indian Trail; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Herb Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
Pigg opened the 80th conference with a message from 1 Timothy 6:11-16. “All of us have a desire to be remembered well, and for leaving a lasting legacy; this passage gives us clear instruction,” he said.
Pigg reminded pastors that the call to minister is a call to remain faithful to Jesus, even when they must make unpopular decisions.
“Ministry is not a cakewalk,” Pigg said. “Jesus told His disciples He was sending them out as sheep among wolves.”
Although ministry can be difficult, pastors should never lose heart. Rather, Pigg encouraged pastors to rest in the power of their calling.
“If God has called you He will equip you. He is the one who has saved you, and He’s the one who will see you through,” he said.
Above all, Pigg told pastors to finish well while they keep in mind the reason for their service.
“We are running for the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not running for ourselves,” Pigg said. “Many start off well, but the finish line is really important. We have to run for the finish line until Jesus appears.”
Speaking from Psalm 37:1-4, Hill urged pastors to avoid the temptation to fret over the troubling cultural and spiritual condition of modern society, which often leads to despair and spoils a Christian’s witness to a watching world.
“We are on our way to heaven. We ought to have a testimony that radiates for all to see,” Hill said. “Somebody is watching you. That’s why God’s Word says not to fret.”
He told pastors to rely on God’s faithfulness and to be content where they serve. Contentment is made easier when pastors find their delight in God.
“You pastors sometimes wish you had a better church,” Hill said. “Learn to be satisfied with what you have. God sustains us by His grace.”
Whitson preached from Ecclesiastes 8:1-8, from which he encouraged pastors to lead their churches according to God’s design and wisdom, rather than relying on worldly wisdom. “You are either pastoring your church as God wants you to lead or as the world says you ought to lead,” he said.
Whitson asked pastors to seek the wisdom of God through regular meditation and reflection upon the Word of God, combined with purposeful rest.
“You get [the wisdom of God] when you stop and get away from the busyness of ministry,” he said. “Get alone with God and His Word and contemplate God’s Word away from the noise of ministry.”
Regular time in God’s Word and away from the stress of ministry is essential for pastors, who are susceptible to losing their joy to serve. “There are many instances in ministry that will steal a pastor’s joy,” Whitson said. “The wisdom of God insures our inward and outward joy.”
As part of their calling to lead, pastors have a duty to model a joyful spirit to their congregations. “If anybody needs to have the joy of the Lord on Sunday morning it is the man of God,” Whitson said. “You will never lead your people beyond where you are yourself.”
Reavis closed the conference with a sermon from Revelation 1, reminding pastors of their duty to challenge Christians to be fully committed followers of Christ.
“We have a generation of consumers that are shopping for churches, and people are hopping from place to place asking what your church has to offer,” Reavis said. “The early church Christians were committed to Jesus Christ. They put their hands to the plow and never looked back. That’s the kind of Christian we need in the church today.”
Reavis also challenged pastors to remain faithful to where God has placed them to serve. He urged pastors to be mindful that their success in ministry will be judged by how faithful they are to God and His Word.
“The success of your ministry has nothing to do with the size of the crowd. It has everything to do with the integrity of your character,” Reavis said. “It has everything to do with your faithfulness to do what God has called you to do where God has called you to do it.”
All eight sermons from this year’s conference are available for download here.