On a day in late November, a group of Kentucky Baptists from various communities and backgrounds gathered together for one purpose — we had been charged with the task of identifying the next person to serve our convention of churches as executive director-treasurer (EDT).
I had been contacted by our chairman a day or two before the meeting and asked to open our time in that initial meeting with a devotion. We read from 1 Samuel 16:6, the anointing by Samuel of David as Israel's king, "When they came, (Samuel) looked on Eliab and thought, 'Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.'"
I reminded our committee that in the weeks to come we would encounter candidates who may seem to be an obvious choice, however, the following verse says, "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'" (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV). The thesis of this passage is that God uses whom He chooses. In that regard, the role of our committee was to identify, on behalf of Kentucky Baptists, in whom God had placed the heart, calling and skills to serve as the next EDT.
Long before any candidates were considered, our team prayed, debated and crafted our guidelines and parameters. We had animated discussions, but deep Spirit-filled unity and appreciation for one another – beginning in those initial moments and lasting throughout our time.
Our committee had a few changes in composition along the way as God called three of our members to new places of life. God graciously provided us new members through whom the work continued seamlessly. We prayed. We fasted. We studied God's Word. We listened to one another. We yielded our personal desires to the desires of the team.
One of the most interesting aspects of our times together was to see how God, in His providence, had built our team. Widely ranging in personality and experiences, it was a joy to see the leadership and wisdom in my fellow team members. At every moment when there was a sense of "where do we go from here?," one of the team members would have the appropriate word for a path forward.
We saw God's guidance all along the process that would lead to the right person.
In our final meeting, there was great clarity about how God had guided our committee. The 14 members that gathered that day, as had been the pattern since November, listened, spoke freely and amazingly reached a consensus about our decision quickly. The decision matched perfectly the criteria we had established months earlier.
I feel very confident in saying that God was at work in our process. Why? Because of Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…"
In this process God grew my love for my fellow committee members. There was a palpable joy in our interactions. In the midst of stressful decisions there was a true peace. All of us would agree at times the process took longer than we hoped, but God gave patience.
I cannot recall a single moment in all our hours together that was not marked with kindness. We celebrated the goodness of God toward us and His churches. We desired to be faithful to our task and trust that we have been. Gentleness was evident, which is saying something in a room full of opinionated Baptists!
Finally, self-control. No one person dominated our meetings. Every voice was heard, respected and offered valuable perspective. The Spirit of the Lord worked in our hearts throughout this process.
Thank you, Kentucky Baptists, for allowing me to serve you in this way. Thank you for the privilege of being able to serve alongside my fellow committee members. And thanks to God for His eternal grace that builds, sustains and protects Christ's church.
Andrew Dyer is pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in London