I’ll be honest, brethren, I don’t understand this business of submitting to authority in SBC life. We SBCers are notable for being unmanageable and recalcitrant. Sometimes we don’t even submit to Jesus’ authority over us but in no case has it ever been demanded of us that we submit to the authority of denominational employees.
Best I can tell, Jesus isn’t the CEO in any of our agencies and institutions and, forgive me, but I reject the ‘God’s man’ assertions also, else I have to conclude that God is an terrible judge of character and skills; however, I’m pretty sure all of our leaders are sinners saved by God’s grace just like me.
So, here’s how I look at my SBC leaders and what I believe they deserve.
1. They deserve my respect and courtesy, a simple matter of civil, Christian treatment of your brethren.
2. They deserve my careful consideration of their decisions, policies, and leadership. I am perfectly willing to listen to what they believe God wants them to do in leading their agency or institution. I presume that they have made a conscientious, prayerful, deliberate effort to carry out the work of the Lord and they have a right to expect me to give them the same conscientious, prayerful, deliberate hearing of their proposals.
3. They deserve the benefit of the doubt from me, and I will grant that. Since I am not a missiologist, a heavyweight leader, a church planting expert, and since I don’t know everything about SBC life that these leaders know, I will gladly grant to our SBC leaders the benefit of the doubt in most matters. I am willing to support, most of the time, those who have greater experience, success, insight, and training in these areas. If I have doubts and reservations, I’ll still yield to them on that, most of the time.
4. They deserve honest, courteous criticism from me. And I'm happy to give it.
5. They deserve, always, my prayerful support as they do their jobs.
6. Our SBC entities deserve my financial support. I am an SBC pastor. This is what we do. There has never been a year when my church has not given to Annie Armstrong, Lottie Moon, and the Cooperative Program. The level of support may vary and no one gets to demand any set percentage or amount, but before I switch financial support to a non-SBC ministry, our SBC entities deserve patience and an opportunity to correct whatever has made me consider a change.
I don’t believe that SBC leaders deserve more than these, nor do I believe they deserve less.