One-On-One with Dr. Frank Page

 One of the visions of SBC Witness is to interview a personality of the convention ever so often in order to receive insight on his or her views on the goings-on of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently took some time to enlighten us on some issues.

This interview will be divided into two parts. In this first part, Dr. Page speaks of how being president of the convention has changed him as a man and pastor and also gives some advice to young pastors who are just entering minsitry.

The second part of the interview will be posted tomorrow. Make sure you read all about what Dr. Page thinks of the future of the SBC, the Baptist Faith and Message, and the Cooperative Program in tomorrow's post.

 

SBW: What is the most important thing that you have learned in the past year while serving as SBC president?

FP: The most important thing that I have learned in this past year is that God’s people are tired of fussing and fighting amongst Baptists and ready to do some serious work for the Lord. They are ready to be led in a unified way. I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is there is a grass-roots group of people that are just yearning for a new day with much more emphasis on missions and evangelism; I really believe that.

 

SBW: How have you grown spiritually in your fellowship with Christ by serving as SBC president?

FP: It has driven me to my knees virtually every day. It has drawn me closer to Christ then ever in my life because I have become more and more aware of my inadequacies as well as His adequacy. I have definitely gained a deep, deep appreciation of His power in my life. I also have to say this, that it has made me deeply dependent on and appreciative of God’s people praying for me. That has stood as the source through which the power of God has come and I am humbly aware of that.

 

SBW: How do you think serving as SBC president will make you a better pastor in the future?

FP: It’s made me aware of what I think is important and what is not important. It’s going to make me far wiser and discerning on matters that we really need to emphasize and that which we do not need to emphasize. So I think it’s going to make me a better pastor in several ways and that’s certainly one of them.

 

SBW: What have been you favorite, as well as worst, experience while serving as SBC president?

FP: Probably my favorite experience while serving as president was probably spending two hours with Rudy Giuliani and being able to share Christ with him. That was absolutely profound. I mean, to the point that at the end of the time of two hours I was able to ask him to pray and to receive Jesus with me, which he refused. But that was a wonderful witnessing experience.

The worst experience while serving as president is that there was a time not too far into the experience where I realized that there were people intentionally trying to hurt me. There were some people trying to spread some not true things about me and I had to be very confrontational in those situations. I won’t go into any specifics, but that obviously – you know, there are people that think that I must love conflict. I don’t love conflict.

 

SBW: Has it been difficult to find the necessary balance required to pastor a large church while serving as convention president?

FP: No, it has not. And that my sound a little bit odd, but it hasn’t, because I made a promise early on that I would not hurt the two primary callings of my life, and those are my family and my church. And so, while it may not have been easy, it has not been difficult because I quickly decided if there was a conflict, the SBC presidency would not be a primary calling and it would have to suffer. So, honestly, that’s not been tough. I’ve had to make some hard decisions but I knew what was right to do.

 

SBC: Many of our readers are seminarians and young ministers who are right out of seminary. What advice would you offer to a future pastor or a beginning pastor?

FP: Good question: multi-faceted of course. I would say, “Keep your focus on the Lord and His calling for your life. Do not be distracted by ambition of where always you need to be but concentrate on where God has you right now and serve Him with all your heart. Be a Kingdom-minded person. Be careful to stay away from distractions that will pull you away from missions and evangelism – and there are multiple distractions out there. Stay focused, stay clean, stay deep in prayer and ask for God to guide you every day. Pray every day the prayer of Jabez, that God would expand your boundaries and make sure you are praying for that to be done in ministry and evangelism and that God would give you somebody to witness to everyday.” Those are some of the things I would share with a young minister.

And as a far as convention stuff, “Don’t give up on us yet.” I intentionally involve large numbers of young people. I just got a letter yesterday from a 27-year old that served on one of our most important committees this year, thanking me for the tremendous opportunity for that, so I am attempting strongly to involve younger pastors in the process. And again, there are some guys out there that are screaming and demanding a place at the table. Because one demands it does not mean that one deserves it. At the same time I am intentionally trying to involve our younger generations in the process because, if you look statistically, our youngest generation is our least evangelized in the nation. And I have deep concern about that.

Make sure to catch Part 2 of the interview tomorrow.

 

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