Moore, whom I know as a student, a dear friend, and someone who I want on my basketball team was asked to sit in the chair of our founding president, B.H. Carroll on stage. Along with most Southwesterners, I have never had the opportunity to sit in this chair, but Moore sitting in the chair only marked the beginning of a powerful illustration.
Patterson, as you probably know, led the Conservative Resurgence with Paul Pressler and may be the most widely known person among Southern Baptists. He has served as president of three institutions: Criswell College, Southeastern Seminary, and Southwestern Seminary while also serving as president for two terms of the Southern Baptist Convention. Some have suggestion that his influence may have corrupted him, but those who suggest such things do not know the Paige Patterson that I work beside on a daily basis.
I watched as Patterson took off his esteemed regalia, poured water in a bowl, and removed both the shoes and socks of Moore. My eyes shifted from a kneeling Southern Baptist hero removing the socks of a student to the tears flowing from the face of a 6’3” chiseled athlete who fears little in life. I suspect neither the servant hood of heroes nor the tears of warriors occur frequently enough in our brief existence.
During the message Patterson said something that caught my attention, “In these days, I have heard many say, ‘I am a young leader.’ They may very well be, but God did not call them to that. God calls us not to be leaders but to be slaves and servants . . . If you have come to Southwestern . . . with anything other in mind than to learn the ways of servanthood, to learn to be a slave to our Lord and to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which he bought with his own blood, then you have misunderstood the calling.”
I confess that on more days than I care to remember, my own sinful ambition has arisen, even if only in my mind, entertaining thoughts that I too am a “young leader.” But on this day, as I watched my hero in the faith wash the feet of my friend, the Holy Spirit convicted me that rather than striving to be a leader, I should strive to be a servant and let God take care of the rest.
On many occasions, I have thanked God for allowing me to serve alongside Patterson. When I have watched Patterson crying over lost souls while partially hiding his face with his Bible, when tears of compassion have fallen to the floor over “his children” going overseas to serve as missionaries, when defending the inerrancy of Scripture or distinctives of our faith with Bible held high, I have thanked God for him.
On this day, the tears were mine as I watched a true demonstration of Christ-like leadership. Some call for change in the Southern Baptist Convention, but as for me, I only hope that my generation can follow in the footsteps of the godly men who have gone before. Today, I am thanking God for a lesson in leadership.