Thursday, January 28, 2010

Address to Georgia State Senate

To the Georgia State Senate
By Dr. Bob Rogers, pastor, First Baptist Church of Rincon, Georgia
January 27, 2010

Good morning! Thank you, Senator Jack Hill, for your invitation to speak. It's good to see Buddy Carter, my former state representative, who is now in the senate. It's good to have Ann Purcell, my current state representative, visiting today.
Scripture understands what it's like to face challenging problems with the government. Listen to what Moses faced in Exodus 7:1-4:
1 And the LORD said to Moses, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. -- Exodus 7:1-4 (ESV)

I have more in common with you who are in politics than you might think. I was student body vice president of my college and I presided over the student senate, but that's not the main reason we have a lot in common. The main reason is that I have been a Baptist pastor for 30 years! So I know about politics. In fact, it was a member of the Georgia legislature who gave me the best advice I received about Baptist politics.
The late Tom Triplett, a former member of the State House, was a member of my church. About 8 years ago, I brought up the idea of moving our church business meeting from Sunday night to Wednesday night, since we were having visitors on Sunday nights who came to hear a sermon, not a business conference. But to my surprise, the proposal was voted down. Tom Triplett pulled me aside and said, "Preacher, your idea is a good one. Wait six months, then explain it fully to all of your leaders to make sure they're all with you, and bring it back up." That's exactly what I did, and business meetings are now on a Wednesday!
I wish that was the hardest issue I've had to deal with, but there have been political issues in churches I've faced much worse than that. So I know that leadership in a political environment can be as tough as nails. So where do we get wisdom for it? What qualities do you need?
Five leaders of the Bible come to mind as role models for us: Abraham, Moses, David, Peter and Paul.
Abraham was willing to take risks. He was told to go to a land the Lord would show him. Are you willing to take the risk to go where you've never gone before for the good of your constituents?
Moses was willing to stand alone on his convictions against Pharaoh and later against his own fellow Israelites when they rebelled against the Lord. Are you?
David was willing to face a giant. Are you ready to take on giant tasks?
Peter was willing to admit his mistakes and change, after denying the Lord and after denying fellowship with Gentiles. That's an important quality in leaders to be willing to admit when we are wrong and change.
Paul was able to get a vision and follow it. When he saw a vision of a man of Macedonia saying, "Come over here and help us," Paul took the gospel into the continent of Europe for the first time. Do you, like Paul, have a vision for your work, and see the big picture?
As helpful as these five role models are, I have not mentioned the greatest example: Jesus Christ. Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself for the good of others. Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13). If you and I will follow the example of Jesus, and be willing to sacrifice our own desires and put others before ourselves, then God will bless our leadership. After all, Jesus knows better than anybody, that life can be as tough as nails.


Beth said...

How wonderfully appropriate! You make us proud!

Dr. Bob Rogers said...

Thanks, Beth! One State Senator told me afterwards that his heart was touched to be like Abraham and take risks to go where he had not gone before. I pray it was a positive inspiration.