I suppose for most of us, just reading the words “transition” or “transitions” calls to mind a word that may be a synonym of it: “change.” It is interesting that when you search the Scripture, the word transition never appears in the Bible but transition events and movements are seen everywhere in the Bible. It is often most clearly seen when there is a change in leadership.
Sometimes it was a seismic shift and at other times it was a calm, meaningful change that was produced simply by the march of time. Just thinking about biblical transitions and shifts brings to mind great and glorious moments when there were changes, transitions, shifts, that were part of shaping Kingdom work.
Without my commentary, think about changes that took place all under the watch care of God and all that brought about significant, good things for the people of God. Think about them. Abraham to Isaac. Moses to Joshua. Elijah to Elisha. David to Solomon. John the Baptist to Jesus.
Today you can read in The Baptist Record an account of the change that we as Mississippi Baptists are going to experience as we welcome a new Executive Director-Treasurer of our convention. It is one of those moments we can celebrate and I hope that you individually, or you as a church or an association, that our whole convention will celebrate the coming of our new state convention leader. What is there to celebrate? Well, there is a lot more than I have time or space to write about, but let me just name three things quickly.
The first celebration is of the faithful, God-led people who served on the Search Committee to find the new Director. Bobby Kirk was the chairman of the Search Committee and the members came from across the state. Not just selected to be on the committee from across the state, they traveled to multiple, multiple meetings that involved prayer, thoughtfulness, participation by every committee member and seeking who God would have for this position. Dozens of qualified and good people were under consideration, but as with churches or associations searching for a new leader, only one could and even should be selected. For those of us, including me, who were not participants in that process, we may have wondered at times: “Why can’t they get somebody? Why don’t they get somebody? What are they meeting for if they’re not going to select somebody?” Well, they did, and the whole process was a step-by-step unfolding of the will of God among the entire Search Committee that came to a unanimous agreement of selection of Dr. Shawn Parker, the pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbus.
I just want you to know that we can celebrate the fact that God guided this committee and that they, to a person, closed out all of the pressures or influences, except for seeking the person that the Lord would have lead our state. That’s what they did, and that is what happened.
The second celebration is of the strong and unified affirmation of the Search Committee’s recommendation to the Executive Committee of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board and then to the full 100-member Board. While all 100 members on the Board did not participate in the search, they were all captured by the work of the committee. The responses and testimony of the candidate and the entirety of the search was wrapped in the presence and guiding of the Spirit of God. That was a good thing and even more, a glorious thing that only the Lord could bring about among us.
The third celebration is a two part outbreak of joy. The first part is this — here is an opportunity for Mississippi Baptists all across our state to make a difference in a man’s life. I know that because I know of the blessing you have been to me and the impact that you have had on my life and ministry for over two decades as you have honored me with the privilege of serving in this position. The Search Committee, and then affirmed by the Board, saw and sensed the working of God to bring this man with all of his giftedness and experience and vision for the future to be our leader. Dr. Shawn Parker was and is that man. You can pray for him. You can listen to him. You can hear from him. You can watch his walk and hear his talk and you, too, will begin to hear as he shares with us a focus on Jesus and our responsibility to follow Him, our Living Lord.
The second feature is that it is a great opportunity for the Lord’s shepherd servant to exercise leadership and to guide us into new days and new ways. I am so excited for Dr. Parker as he will lead us. His experience through the years as a pastor covers the uniqueness of all of our churches. From rural settings and country churches, to suburban churches, to a large church in one of our fine cities, he has always been a caring leader of the flock of God. Now, with a heart wide open and arms wrapped around our state, he will continue to lead us looking to Jesus and speaking into our lives with a word from God saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
Transitions are not always easy or good, until you see the manifestation of the hand of God moving it along. You can smile and say, “This is wonderful” — and it is.
The author can be contacted at email@example.com.
Dr. Jim Futral