Monday I spent the day in Dallas at the offices of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. I had my first scheduled meeting as president with the officers of our convention Carolyn Strickland and Bobby Broyles. It was a good productive meeting as we discussed our responsibilities and opportunities as leaders. Randel Everett, Steve Vernon and our host for the day Chris Liebrum were very helpful and insightful as they helped equip us for the task at hand. I believe we are off to a good start.
During a break, I strolled over to the wall of portraits of the former Executive Directors of our convention. It was intriguing to see the faces of men I had heard about and a few I had met. Leaders like James Landes, J.H. Williams, Charles Wade, T.A. Patterson, and Forrest Feezor. One thing that struck me as odd was that only one of these men were smiling in their portraits. The only smiling face was that of Dr. Bill Pinson. I wondered why he broke rank and smiled. I guess I could ask him, but as I looked at his portrait I was caught up by a sense of optimism and joy. Pinson led us well during wonderful times of growth and expansion, and difficult days of division. His faith and joy helped us to work together in the best and worst of times.
A simple smile sends a strong message of hope. Now that the weight of leading our convention rests on my shoulders, I pray I too will smile as we face the future together. I am reminded of the words of Nehemiah speaking to his people broken by their sin and failure after hearing the Word of the Lord from the lips of Ezra. Nehemiah challenged his people standing in the midst of the rubble of their past to face the future with hope by saying “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” I too pray the joy of the Lord will light our way into our future.