I'm posting this for two reasons. One is the Southern Baptist Convention is coming up in a week or so and is, in my opinion, in dire need of messengers who must have the "courage of convictions" if things are ever to change in Southern Baptist life. This IS my prayer for the gathered messengers in Indianapolis.
A second reason for posting it now is because, having written this the day of Wade's resignation from the IMB and, for whatever reason, not publishing it then, and having come across it today, I believe it is a picture of living by principles or convictions that is needed by all of us, and I choose to publish it today to say "thanks" to Wade and to illustrate the title of this post.
I'm fully aware that some may question my objectivity in what I write. [Some (one) will be embarassed by it.] So be it. I will rest in the fact that in THAT day ALL true motives and purposes, yours AND mine, will be brought to light by the ONE who knows every person's heart. Until then I will continue to say what I believe to be true and pray for what I think is needed in baptist life. Having been duly warned, read now that forgotten post.
I thought of writing this to you privately as I normally do, but decided to do it publically after reading some of the comments on the post about your resignation from the BOT of the IMB..
Courage of convictions is so lacking among leaders in our nation [including religious leaders] that many will never understand the decisions you've made now or in the past. Detractors will see this-- [resignation from the IMB]-- as a victory for their side or a lack of character on your part. To me, this simply shows they neither understand character nor the issues adequately. [But that is another issue in itself.]
Friends will perhaps see this with some relief that you won't have to continue to face the pressure that has been on your person, family, or church any longer and rejoice over that fact. Or some of those friends may see it as a setback for what is right and needed and may, feeling anger, even wonder if you have capitulated to pressure.
But people who REALLY know you, and know you well, realize that it is the same guiding principle of conscience and openness to counsel that you've excercised from the outset in dealing with the attempt to use an SBC organization to hamstring, if not remove, a duly elected leader in Southern Baptist life, that you discovered when you were first elected to the IMB/BOT.
You have faced honestly, fought for personally, and explained carefully what the issues really are. That has been a troublesome and costly journey for you at a price you've been willing to pay.
Now you face the cost of another decision based on principle. The greater problem of BECOMING the issue has awakened you to the need for this action of resigning. You have chosen this course of action carefully and prayerfully. I know this to be true.
Some will not understand. But you have NEVER wanted to become the issue. You've never allowed anyone else to become the issue and when you did feel that slipping you quickly corrected it. You're now being consistent.
Someone has said "to stop short of a calling...because of fear or because of pain... is a lack of character." You've never stopped short of your calling. Someone else has said "to go beyond a calling...because of an agenda or because of a cause...is pride." You've chosen to not go beyond your calling.
For you it is, again, based on principle and is for the good of people, and will not be understood or accepted by all as the right thing to do. But, praise God, you have been and are still being true to your calling.
You said..."I deem it better to be censured by men than to be condemned by conscience." That says it all no matter the subject being addressed.
May God grant to us all a baptism of the courage of our convictions.