John Ewart on Historical Biographies and Leadership

I enjoy reading historical biographies. I especially appreciate those written about men who became what we consider to be a leader. I love to note the opportunities and challenges that shaped their path and how they responded to each one of them. It often amazes me to learn how they came to be known. Many began their lives in very humble circumstances.

I am currently working through David McCullough’s behemoth work on Truman. It has been fascinating to learn about his background, rise to fame and political opportunity. I was moved to read how much he struggled with major decisions during wartime and during peace. It is interesting to learn how he dealt with others and had to choose when to bend and when to stand firm. When Truman was first elected to the U.S. Senate a senior member saw his dazed look as he stared at those in the chamber and told him, “The first six months you wonder how you got here. The next six months you’ll wonder how we got here.”

It is fascinating to see how leaders “got there.” I am humbled to serve in the area of leadership development and training. We are trying to help potential leaders “get there” under God’s grace and direction. It is exciting to watch God raise up a generation of men and women who will first serve well so they might lead well.

For churches to be healthy, strong missional leadership is required. Kevin Mannoia writes, “The church rises and falls on leadership. Ninety percent of what happens in the church is attributed to leadership. Priorities of strategic implementation are determined by leadership. Leaders must lead the way in declaring the priority, developing the momentum and dismantling the obstacles.”

God’s people need to follow God’s leader. Will Beal states, “A universal principle is at work in groups of people, the desire of the group to have a leader.”   If the senior leadership places priority, intentionality, and focus upon the mission and vision of a strategy, the possibility is much greater that the people will follow with enthusiasm. Together, pastors and people can impact a community.

Biblical church health requires effort and time, however. It is a journey not an event. People need examples to follow as well as exposition. Unfortunately, far too many churches have leaders that are, “maintenance-minded, fearful of change, and desperately clinging to the status quo. A museum mentality prevails throughout their ministries,” according to Aubrey Malphurs. Robert Lewis and Rob Wilkins state this truth in another fashion, “Often as engineers of churches, pastors and lay leaders desperately desire to bridge the gap, but when measuring the gorge with the world’s mathematics, they come to believe the span is simply too vast.”

In another historical biography, John F. Kennedy once said, “Some people see things the way they are and ask why; I see things the way they could be and ask, why not?” I pray we can be church leaders that experience Zechariah 8:23, “…in those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” May we be such leaders that the church follows our example and the unchurched cling to us and come with us because they know God is with us and we are with Him!

The CGCS on Sam and Rachel James

Every so often you meet a person or couple who exude Christ and his love for the nations. Southeastern faculty, staff, and students met such a couple earlier this month when former IMB missionaries Sam and Rachel James visited the campus. The CGCS has a good write up on Sam and Rachel and his book.

Here’s an excerpt:

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of hosting Sam and Rachel James on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Wisdom, humility, and graciousness were the hallmark of the James family time here on campus, and of course, for over 50 years of missionary service with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Until their retirement in 2013, the majority of their missionary service was among the Vietnamese people.


When asked, “What do you need to persevere on the mission field?” Sam James responded with three things: 1) Spiritual maturity, 2) A strong sense of calling, and 3) A sense of humor. His book, Servant on the Edge of History: Risking All for the Gospel in War-Ravaged Vietnam, is replete with all three of these characteristics.

Read the full post here.

Southeastern at the 2014 ETS

Every fall semester, before the Thanksgiving holiday, droves of evangelical professors, pastors, and students descend upon an American city to gather for the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. This year, the meeting will be held November 19-21 in balmy San Diego, CA, with Ecclesiology as the central topic. As usual, many of our SEBTS faculty and PhD students will participate by reading academic papers, or serving as panelists or moderators for various discussions. The table below lists the time, topic, role, and location of each participant. If you live in or near San Diego, or you plan to attend ETS this year, be sure to check out the fine scholarship displayed by SEBTS folk.

Time Topic Person Role
Nov 19       8:30-11:40a Christian Ethics Section Erik Clary Moderator
9:20-10:00 Christian Ethics and the Fair Trade Movement Shaun Price Presenter
9:20-10:00 Matthew 27:52-53 as a Scribal Interpolation Charles Quarles Presenter
9:20-10:00 Believer Baptism: Human Act of Obedience and Divine Means of Grace John Hammett Presenter
11:00-11:40 Panel Discussion on Believer Baptism John Hammett Panelist
2:00-5:10p Christian Ethics: Was the Early Church Primarily Pacifist of Not? Daniel Heimbach Moderator
3:40-4:20 Can War Be Just? The Ancient Church and Pacifism Steven McKinion Presenter
4:30-5:10 Interaction on the Early Church and Pacifism Daniel Heimbach Panelist
4:30-5:10 Interaction on the Early Church and Pacifism Steven McKinion Panelist
2:00-5:10 A Conversation on Origins: BioLogos, Reasons to Believe, and Southern Baptists Ken Keathley Panelist
2:00-5:10 A Conversation on Origins: BioLogos, Reasons to Believe, and Southern Baptists James K. Dew Panelist
2:00-2:40 Does Luke 10:25-37 Echo 2 Chr 28:5-15? The Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Question if Its Historical Vorlage Gregory Stiekes Presenter
2:00-2:40 On Feeding the “Theologically Dead”-Rethinking Robert Rakestraw on the Vegetative State Erik Clary Presenter
2:00-2:40 Rescuing Rahab: The Evangelical Discussion on Conflicting Moral Absolutes David W. Jones Presenter
Nov 20       8:30-11:40a The Dark Side of Evangelical Ecumenism Nathan A. Finn Moderator
10:20-10:40 Respondent to Evangelical Ecumenism Papers Nathan A. Finn Presenter
9:20-10:50 Book Panel on In Search of Moral Knowledge by R. Scott Smith James K. Dew Panelist
3:00-6:10p Molinism Session Ken Keathley Moderator
3:00-3:40 Are there Signs of Late Biblical Hebrew in Isaiah 40-66? Mark Rooker Presenter