By Michael McEwen
President of North American Mission Board, Kevin Ezell, invited students to balance the guarding of the heart and the loving of people, as leaders in the church.
Ezell, appointed President of North American Mission Board (NAMB), was raised in Paducah, KY, where he graduated from Lone Oak High School. From there, he went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree from Union University in Jackson, TN, an M.Div from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a D.Min from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Lynette have six children from four countries.
Preaching from Acts 20, Ezell inquired of the chapel attendees, “What is Paul doing? Quite simply, he is going to Jerusalem and being obedient in that divine call.” Ezell reminded those assembled of the scriptural context of Acts 20. From chapters 21-23, he said, the people are the ones trying to talk him out of going where God has called him to go.
Ezell stepped from behind the podium and in a comforting voice spoke, “Quite honestly, you may be the biggest obstacle that you have in ministry, not your people, but you alone.”
Paul, noted Ezell, was always spiritually and emotionally involved with the churches he visited. He said to the chapel, “You are all called to some position which requires you to connect with and love people.”
In addition, Ezell remarked that every open door is one God has opened. “You will serve with humility and tears. Easily, after we’ve been hurt we tend to isolate ourselves from getting hurt again. But we must minister even when it hurts, just like Paul does in Acts 20.”
Ezell challenged the attendees with the advice that God often calls his people to do things greater than their ability. This, he noted, is what Paul is going through in Acts 20. “The reality of God’s calling us to hard things is so that he may receive the glory, not us.”
Drawing from Acts 20, Ezell said, “Guard yourself, guard your flock, and then watch for those on the outside.” Paul kneels down and prays with everyone, Ezell mentioned. “Look. The elders in chapter 20 are weeping over Paul not primarily because of his ministry work, but because they would never see him again. Do not love people because you are ‘required to,’ but because you ‘desire to do so.’ Paul loved his people and they also understood it.”
Ezell charged the leaders in chapel that they must never lose their love for the Lord and people. “After Seminary, you can be intellectually prepared, doctrinally sound, and not love people. Then you’ve missed the whole point of the gospel.”
To watch the message, click here
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.