Hal_4186While attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the mid 80’s, my parents came to Dallas for the much-anticipated Southern Baptist Convention.  (See picture)  I must admit, I didn’t know the full scope of what the fuss was all about.  I believed the bible was God’s Word and it seemed to me both sides did.  So, what was the deal?  Well, I better understand now.  But then, I just knew my daddy was going to buy my breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  That’s always good for a hungry seminary student! 🙂 I also knew I was going to be able to spend time with him.  He was my hero!

WHY DID I REFER TO HIM AS BIG HAROLD?  Just to be sure, I didn’t call him this until I was older.  He’d smile because he knew that it was a term of endearment.  (Some of my close friends called him this, too—but not to his face.  Well, there was that one time when my buddy Bill Jones from Kosciusko did.  That’s a story for another time. 🙂 )  Listen, the name fit.  Harold means “leader.”  He was a fantastic leader. And he was larger than life—as well as being physically large.  He stood about 6’3” and weighed a lot more than me.  (After graduating from MC, having played and starred in basketball at Clinton High and Mississippi College, he rarely ran again. 🙂 )  I often think of my dad around Father’s Day, especially this year due to the convention being in Dallas and the reality that it, too, is a much-anticipated convention.  Not because of a “battle over the Bible,” but due to other issues.  There is a buzz about the recent vacancies within leadership positions in the SBC and over some doctrinal differences.  Hadn’t heard?  Just google and you’ll find plenty of information.  But be careful what you read and please try to balance the information.  It is it important?  YES!  Is the sky falling?  I don’t think so.

SO, BACK TO THE ORIGINAL QUESTION… What might my daddy, affectionately known as Big Harold to some, say to me about this year’s Southern Baptist Convention…

>Those that seem to have all the answers, usually don’t even know the questions.

 You got to know, I was 27 when my dad died.  I didn’t always fully understand his sayings at that point.  But basically, what he was telling me is to don’t presume to know it all and be cautious of those that think they do.  I get sort of tickled at some of what I’ve been reading leading up to this year’s convention.  I just sort of smile and think to myself, daddy was right.  🙂 Some things are better left unsaid.  And it’s almost as if I can hear him say, “buddy, keep your mouth shut!”

>Vote your convictions—that’s Baptist polity 101.

 After graduating from seminary, my dad gave me a reading assignment.  He bought me a book on Baptist Polity by Dr. James Sullivan and encouraged me to read it.  Folks, that was the last thing I wanted to read at that point in my life.  I suffered through it and now understand.  Honestly, at this point in my life, I think we would have voted somewhat differently at the 1985 SBC in Dallas.  But I think we would vote the same in the one coming up in a few weeks.  That’s ok.  It’s part of being a Southern Baptist.  And the personality of those being voted on for President should never be the deciding factor for who to vote for—convictions should be.  Look at the overall responsibilities of the President and remember that cool is cool, but it’s not as important as the other C word—convictions.

>Enjoy your family, friends, and food. 

 Daddy built our family vacations around the Southern Baptist Convention.  It was great!  I swam, went to sleep during the sessions I had to endure, and enjoyed watching my dad laugh with his buddies.  Honestly, I think he enjoyed his time with buds more than anything.  He loved messing with them and they enjoyed messing with him.  🙂  And trust me, he didn’t get the name BIG for eating grains and bark off trees.  He knew how to eat.  Furthermore, the Mississippi College Ice Cream social was not an option for any of us.  Not because his dad taught at MC and was awarded an Alumnus of the Year once.  Not because he graduated from MC and was also voted Alumnus of the Year once. (Only Father/Son to do so.)  No, no, no—because it was the ultimate time to hang out with old friends and EAT ICE CREAM!  (I followed suit until they changed the menu a few years ago. Ain’t nobody got time for dipped strawberries in chocolate without ice cream!  Come on Man! 🙂 )  Take God seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.  Life is way too short.

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God.  Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.  ~Hebrews 13:7

Happy Southern Baptist Convention and Happy Father’s Day everyone…