Leadership as a Gift

By Daniel Vestal

I come to this time and place in life with an incredible sense of privilege. To explore the contemporary challenges of church and society with colleagues and friends, to foster research as to what Baptist leaders might actually look like, to engage in the educational enterprise in a major research University – all of this is a privilege. Now, more than ever, I am aware of how much of what I value and hold dear is a sheer gift.

Leadership itself is gift, though it may not feel or seem that way at certain times. We speak of “the burden of leadership” or the “toll leadership takes on a person,” which is true. But whether one is a leader because of circumstances or compulsion, one ought to begin by simply saying thanks for the privilege. A gift is to be received with gratitude and then stewarded with care and creativity.

I’m reminded of the parable Jesus told of the talents distributed by a master to servants. It’s a fact that some of us are “five talented” while others of us are “”two talented” or “one talented.” But what is most important is to make the most of what God gives us, to be dedicated and diligent, to act in faith and courage. This is what one does when life and leadership are received as gift.

The Eula Mae and John Baugh Center for Baptist Leadership is a gift, literally. Created by the vision of Mercer President, Bill Underwood, and endowed by the generosity of the Baugh Foundation, this Center is a gift to the Baptist family. It was preceded by the vision of R.Kirby Godsey who created The Center for Baptist Studies and appointed the esteemed historian Buddy Shurden as its Director. Through the years Dr. Shurden has offered multiple opportunities to Baptists for education and enrichment.