Jeff Paxton has served as pastor at First Baptist Church in Dover for 35 years and currently serves as president of the ABSC Executive Board.
I have always liked baseball. I played from Peewees to all the way through my college years. I played on some good teams, and I played on some pretty bad teams. Two things I noticed as I progressed through the different levels were that things got much more serious at the upper levels, and it became much more specialized.
For instance, while I played every position as a youngster, as I went through high school that narrowed, and finally in college all I did was pitch. I didn’t even get to bat, which I loved to do.
Each position had players who excelled in that particular position. Certainly, we see that on the professional level as well. While each position is vastly different, having individuals with a particularly gifted skillset, when working together, makes for a very successful and effective team.
As I look at the work of Arkansas Baptists, with our churches, agencies, and institutions, using the baseball analogy, I see a variety of “positions” or what we might call ministries making up an extraordinary team. The individuals comprising these various ministries have a unique, specialized, giftedness from our Lord Jesus.
The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” (I Corinthians 12:4-6) Peter tells us, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (I Peter 4:10)
Having the honor to serve as the Executive Board president for the ABSC during the last year and a half, I have been excited to see the excellence and effectiveness in these various “positions.” As I have met with individuals serving our agencies, institutions, and churches, I have been so impressed with how they are utilizing their particular gifts, and the passion with which they serve our Lord Jesus and Arkansas Baptists.
Whether it is battling the heat and evangelistically working with kids at Camp Siloam, or our Arkansas Baptist Children and Family Ministries compassionately working with families and children who are many times in crisis situations, loving them with the love of Christ. Seeing the work impacting future generations at Ouachita and Williams as they help our students find their career path and equipping them for ministry no matter what their profession. Witnessing the effective stewardship of our Arkansas Baptist Foundation as they passionately administer and fund Kingdom work presently, but also until Jesus returns. I do not have the time or space to list the fruit from those serving through our various ministry teams at the ABSC. Having spent much time there over the past two years, let me simply say those folks are doing amazing work, and are doing it with grace, humility, and a servant’s heart. They are truly awesome!
Using the baseball analogy, I seriously doubt that any of us could “play ALL these positions” effectively, but as we work together, responding to God’s call on our lives, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us utilizing the gifts He has given us, it sure makes for an effective team. Home runs are being hit daily by this dream team of Arkansas Baptists. There are a lot of baseball teams on earth at about every age level, but in eternity no one will be talking about who won the big game. I do believe we will be exalting our Savior, and rejoicing in all the Kingdom fruit that brings Him glory.
I thank God for the privilege of being on the Arkansas Baptist team, and seeing home runs, and even grand slams being hit by our collective ministries as they reach people for Christ. I love you and am so grateful for you!
One final word. As you know, the search process continues for the next head coach/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Please continue to pray for wisdom, discernment, and a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit for those serving on the search team and the Executive Board. Having had the privilege of working and praying with the men on our search team, you will be blessed to know they are truly some wonderful and Godly men. We covet your prayers.