By Jason Hall
One hundred and sixteen students were awarded degrees as part of the fall 2009 graduation ceremonies December 18 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and its undergraduate school, The College at Southeastern.
Ninety-eight graduates received their master’s or doctoral degrees, and eighteen graduated with associate or bachelor’s degrees. The graduates came from 18 states and three foreign countries.
The charge to the graduates was given by Dr. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern. He preached from Hebrew 12:1-2 with the theme, “Running the Race.” Akin reminded the graduates that though they are not necessarily promised a long life, they are promised that God will be faithful as they run the race of faith.
“What we can count on is that God has numbered our days,” Akin said. “He has mapped out a particular ministry for each of us.”
In Christian ministry, as in life generally, there are no effective “lone rangers,” Akin said. Part of the intent of Hebrews 12:1 is to impel Christians to find encouragement from the examples of others. Some, Akin added, are called to ministry success, but many others are called to a hard life of persecution. Those who are called to a difficult life are promised the blessing of God, Akin said.
“In ministry, sometimes you are on the mountaintop, but sometimes you find yourself in the valley,” Akin said. “Life is hard; it is difficult. You will be weary and discouraged. Hang in there – Jesus is faithful.”
Akin reminded the graduates that every difficulty unforeseen by man is kept by the providence of God.
“God is never caught by surprise,” he said. “(Difficulty) is part of the race he has set before you.”
The graduates were also told to remain focused on the essentials of ministry – laying aside sin and clinging only to Jesus. This works itself out, Akin said, in a devotion to the Gospel in all of ministry and life. The best thing, he said, is Christ, and Gospel ministers must sometimes lay aside good things to pursue that one best thing. Anything less, he said, risks unbelief.
Finally, Akin called on the graduates and all present to follow the example of Jesus.
“God called his Son to run in a race that included Calvary, and (Christ) was faithful to the finish,” he said. “There will be times in this race where you cannot take a step, and in those times he will come to you and pick you up and carry you.
“He is all you will ever need.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.