Solomon wrote these words: “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” He is right. In my 22nd year of leading the work of Oklahoma Baptists, Polla and I have concluded that God has set before us the time for us to retire. So I announced to the board of directors and to our BGCO staff that I will retire on April 15, 2018.
I have been actively involved in ministry since I was 19 years of age (68 now). Polla and I started our journey as pastor and wife of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Sleeper, Mo. It was an auspicious beginning. On our first Sunday we had 19 people. It still amazes me that God would take a young guy from Skiatook and give me the remarkable opportunities I have enjoyed since that humble beginning.
These last 22 years have been the most stretching, challenging and rewarding of my life. Leading Oklahoma Baptists has been a privilege afforded to only eight men across our 111 year history. Oklahoma Baptists are strong, generous beyond description and determined to reach our world with the Gospel.
As I was thinking through this decision, God allowed me to conclude that, in a position of leadership like this one, you never see all your vision fulfilled. Frankly, as a pastor, one of the ways I knew it was time for me to move on was the inability to get fresh vision for the future. I have not lost vision. I could talk for hours about opportunities and needs among our churches and the work of the convention to serve and expand the reach of our churches. But God has released me from responsibility for the vision, and a new leader will lead us to accomplish more than I could ever dream.
The most asked question both by me and others is “What are you going to do in retirement? What are your plans?” Good questions. I am approaching retirement as I have my work life. I am trusting God to show me at the right time what He wants me to do.
One given is that I intend to spend a lot more time with my Osage Princess. She has sacrificed and given so much in order for me to give myself to the work of God through the convention. We are looking forward to time together enjoying some of the simple pleasures of life. One will be spending more time with our precious granddaughter who lives in Portland, Ore. with her parents who are planting a church.
After a sabbatical in the Spring I hope to return to preaching. I love to preach the Word. I have often told folks that I do what I do throughout the week so I can preach on Sunday. For 22 years, I have preached across this state in churches large and small. I hope to continue preaching and teaching the Word. I also want to find special niches of ministry where we can give ourselves away.
Until April 15, I assure you I will give my best and utmost in leading the convention and its staff. I plan to give my best the last day just like I did the first. I will join all Oklahoma Baptists in praying for Chairman Nick Garland and his committee as they seek the ninth Executive Director-Treasurer of the BGCO. Pray for President Joe Ligon as well.
To conclude, I believe the best is yet to be for the BGCO and for Polla and me. We serve a good, good Father!