The Dancing Puritan

Friday, February 1, 2013

Dr. Mohler and The Conviction to Lead

In the early 1990's I attended a meeting at the Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) center in Atlanta.  While there I stopped by the offices of The Christian Index (the newspaper of the GBC).

For years I had scanned the Index but in the late 1980's and early 90's there was a clear difference in writing and substance from the previous years of the paper. The Index had an editor, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. who wrote with clarity and conviction. My previous scanning of the Index had been replaced by a thorough reading of the paper during the time in which Dr. Mohler served as editor.

It was Dr. Mohler's editorials that led me into his office that day. I wanted to meet the man that was writing such thought provoking columns and I had also decided to invite him to speak at my church.

I found Dr. Mohler to be warm, gracious and organized. He welcomed me into his office (though I did not have an appointment) offered me a seat and we talked. When I asked him to preach he checked his electronic organizer to make sure the dates were open. They were. He graciously accepted the invitation to preach a series of six messages over the course of a week.

It was obvious that Dr. Mohler was a leader of the first order and that his leadership skills were far beyond his years. He and I were about the same age but he seemed older, not in appearance, but as a seasoned leader.

I will never forget the week of services at our church. Dr. Mohler drove through Atlanta traffic an hour north each evening to meet with a different small group of folks over a meal, prior to the service.  We concluded those pre-service meetings with a question and answer session. We would then go to my office to talk and pray. It was a great and formative week for me.

The preaching that week was outstanding, but I especially enjoyed the time that Dr. Mohler gave to my family and me as we discussed theological, Southern Baptist Convention and family matters.  The highlight of the week, for our family, was having Dr. and Mrs. Mohler and their family in our home for a meal.

The reason for the background is because Dr. Mohler has written a new book on leadership, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters (Bethany House). Soon after the week of preaching in Dawsonville, GA, Dr. Mohler became the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  From the back cover of the book, At the age of thirty-three, Dr. Albert Mohler became the youngest president in the 153 year history of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was the driving force behind the school's transformation into a thriving institution with an international reputation characterized by a passionate conviction for truth.

Dr. Mohler gives the reader a bit of insight into those early days of his presidency, In 1993, I walked into my office as president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for the first time and closed the door behind me. In the months between my election and taking office, I had ample time to understand my challenge. I was called to turn one of the largest and most venerable Christian institutions upside down, taking it back to its founding commitments and convictions (p. 21).

Those were not easy days for Dr. Mohler. He faced tremendous opposition from faculty and students and yet day-by-day and step-by-step he led by conviction. He writes, As that door closed behind me and I drew a quick breath, it was clear that I lacked almost everything any sane search committee should have been looking for in a president of an institution of this historic stature. But I knew one thing--I was driven by the convictions the school used to stand on, the truths that had brought the school into being. These convictions were right, true, and of primary importance. And, just as importantly, I knew I had the conviction to lead (p. 22).

Dr. Mohler has proven to be faithful to his convictions over the years.  From all credible reports he practices what he preaches about convictional leadership. Such is evident in his family, his writing, his preaching and in his leadership at the seminary.

As an up and coming young man who, with his family, sat at our dinner table in the early 1990's, it was clear to us then that Dr. Mohler had the conviction to lead. The Christian Index was no longer a paper to be quickly discarded but one to be read and digested because God, in his providence, had called and gifted Albert Mohler to lead.

Dr. Mohler has a brilliant mind that is saturated with truth. He is towering in his ability to reason, debate, teach and lead. And though he walks in the rarefied air of the scholar, he encourages and elevates those around him (regardless of their intellectual abilities). Such is the heart of a leader. Dr. Mohler has The Conviction to Lead.  His convictions do not rest on the unstable reasoning of man but on the infallible, inerrant and sufficient Word of God.

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler from Bethany House.  Order Here: The Conviction to Lead