The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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      During a session of the SBC annual meeting in Anaheim last week I observed a young man (defined as younger than me) wearing a blue t-shirt which presented the exhortation “Live Your Calling.” Later, while walking  through the Convention Center with about 8,000 other messengers, I saw a banner for the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at a distance that offered the same challenge…”Live Your Calling.” If my deduction is correct, the fellow wearing the t-shirt may be a current seminary student or an alum. Although I did not verify, I have a pretty strong hunch that the admonition presented on both the t-shirt and the banner stems from Paul’s charge to “…live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1).       
      The overall theme for the meeting in Anaheim was “Jesus…the center of it all” (Colossians 1:15-20). As I listened to the various reports and presentations during the meeting in Anaheim, I reflected often on Paul’s challenge to “live your calling” within the context of the Convention’s theme that Jesus is the center of it all.
      One of the highlights of the Convention was the celebration of 52 new International Mission Board-appointed missionaries. Most of these new appointees were young…in their 20s and 30s. Both married couples and single adults were among the group. Several couples had young children. For security reasons, at least half of the missionaries introduced themselves from behind a scrim while omitting their full names. One Hispanic couple asked for prayer to navigate the culture and language differences between their life-long Hispanic background and the new context where they would be serving in Northern Africa and the Middle East.        
      Entitling his president’s address “Gut Punch,” Ed Litton focused on Matthew 9:35-38 as he offered the perspective that churches are plateauing and declining because we “have closed our eyes to the hurt all around.” Litton stated further that “We don’t have the compassion of Jesus” because we lack the vision of Jesus. The unfortunate result of this lack of vision and compassion is an insufficient number of laborers willing to enter the Lord’s harvest field.
      As I reflect on the manner in which a small group of young and enthusiastic missionaries are living out their calling by moving into a multitude of harvest fields around the globe, I praise God for their faithfulness in responding to His leading. At the same time, however, I am reminded of the many times and the various ways that I have overlooked or have been unresponsive to opportunities to live my calling on a consistent basis. In other words, my conviction that Jesus is the center of everything is not always accompanied by eyes that see people the way that Jesus did or his corresponding gut punch response of compassion toward them.       
      I left California reminded of the fact that living one’s calling as a Christian is not a periodic or part-time endeavor. Rather, as Christ’s workmanship saved by grace through faith and created for good works, we are to live our calling daily among the shepherd-less sheep of society. Living with Jesus as the center of everything will compel us to accept his challenge to pray for additional laborers while taking bold steps personally to move into the bumper crop of the Lord’s harvest where he has planted us for this season of life…whether overseas or within the community where we currently live.


Dear Heavenly Father, Convict me of my lack of vision and compassion for others. Strengthen my resolve to live out my calling in a manner consistent with my conviction that Jesus is the center of everything. May I set an example for others by moving faithfully and fearlessly into your harvest fields while praying to the Lord of the harvest for additional laborers who will do likewise. Amen.