FORT WORTH During Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s spring commencement ceremony for its Fort Worth campus, May 5, President Paige Patterson commended the 220 graduating college, master’s and doctoral graduates for their diligence and zeal in their studies in order to be equipped to “go to the ends of the earth” with the gospel message.
“Even if the ‘ends of the earth’ works out to be just down the street from the seminary, you are going to minister in a tough day and a tough time,” Patterson said.
Preaching from Luke 12, Patterson urged graduates to forsake living for earthly things and to invest in what is eternal. “You are following the master who came to seek and to save that which was lost,” Patterson said. “That is your assignment.”
Obedience in service to Christ will be rewarding, Patterson continued, just not in earthly possessions.
“If you live your life in behalf of others, it is amazing what sustenance to the soul such a life is,” he said. “Now you have stored up rewards that will never be taken away in heaven above.”
Patterson further explained that money, position and prestige are desired goals for graduates across the country but will ultimately not satisfy and are not necessarily reflective of one’s service to Christ.
“You are not to seek those things,” Patterson said. “A man’s life does not exist in the abundance of the things that he possesses; a man’s life consists in giving his life away to others and to Christ.”
In conclusion, Patterson told graduates that they have two choices in life. “You can live for yourself, or you can live for heaven,” he said. Patterson then left graduates with a final question to consider for themselves: “What have I invested in the heavenly bank?”
Among the graduates commissioned for ministry was Kathryn Boutwell. Graduating with a bachelor’s in biblical studies, Boutwell says that through her training at Southwestern, she has gained boldness in sharing her faith, she is open and ready to go wherever God calls her, and she has received the necessary tools to be ready for ministry.
“Southwestern has equipped me in both my future ministry by giving me a picture of what church planting overseas looks like, and my current ministry by teaching me how to look at Scripture and teach simply what is there in God’s Word,” Boutwell said.
Whether students remain in Texas or move thousands of miles around the world, all Southwestern graduates are ready and equipped for whatever ministry to which God calls them. Alongside 27 graduates from the Spanish-language Master of Theological Studies program, many of whom are already key Hispanic leaders in the United States and Latin American, Esteban Vazquez said his studies at Southwestern gave him the necessary tools to continue in his ministry.
“I thank God for the opportunity he gives me to continue growing in his knowledge and for the possibility of fulfilling this longing at Southwestern,” Vazquez said. “Every book, every chapter, and every forum has not been a task, but a way to grow and apply to everyday life the principles that transform the way of thinking. God is good!”
The day following the Fort Worth graduation, the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston held its commencement ceremony. The Houston campus saw two students graduate with a bachelor’s in biblical studies and 17 students graduate with master’s degrees.