With gratitude for you all

This is my last executive director’s column for the TEXAN. Believe it or not, words fail me. I could never express my thanks to the many people who have made this journey such a joy.

God gave me an assignment that was for his purpose, and by his grace I have finished my course. I will leave it to the historians to comment about my service. I leave it to the Eternal Judge to determine the efficacy of my work for his glory.

Not wanting to sound melancholy, I must reiterate my thankfulness about the next and final chapter of my life and ministry. When I was called to preach at age 17, God did not give an expiration date. I will seek to be used of him until I can no longer physically proclaim his unsearchable riches. My “yes” is on the altar for whatever he has in store for me.

My wife, June, has given sacrificially of her life to further the cause of Christ. She answered God’s call the summer before we met. All through these years she has fulfilled that calling from Jesus as well as being a cheerleader for me. God gave me an incomparable helpmate. She was truly the first lady of the SBTC in more ways than one.

Our children supported my SBTC work. Our girls, Rachel and Rebekah, were out of the house when we moved to Texas, but they were impacted by my schedule. Our son, Nathan, was eight years of age when I became executive director. Unlike the girls who saw me as their pastor, he grew up knowing me in a different role. Without complaint, he accompanied me many times on road trips. After reaching adulthood, he remained a prayer partner as did the girls. Since the founding of the convention, June and I have been blessed with five grandchildren. Now, I will have more time to be with them.

I would be remiss if I neglect mentioning the staff with whom I have had the privilege to serve. Some of God’s choicest servants did yeoman’s duty to benefit the churches. Some were with us for a brief time as God moved them to other places of service. Others were with me for over a decade. The list of people worthy of recognition is too long for me to share. However, there is one who has been a stalwart: Joe Davis. He has been a right arm to me for over 20 years. Integrity is his hallmark.

As to the future of the convention, I could not be more optimistic. Our new leadership in Nathan Lorick will continue to hold to the uniqueness of the SBTC while remaining flexible in meeting the needs of the churches. William Carey said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” As long as the convention is a confessional fellowship based on the inerrant Word of God, it will be blessed. This does not mean there will always be financial and numerical growth. It does mean that God will honor those who honor his Word. The rising generation is ready to take the mantle.

The winds of chaos are blowing in our nation. Unfortunately, most churches resemble the culture in mirroring the dysfunction. My prayer for the future, for my children and grandchildren, for the SBTC\SBC, is that God will have mercy and send a spiritual renewal to the saved and a spiritual awakening to the lost. This is my heart for the future.

So, as I end my time as executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, I leave you with a grateful heart. I have been blessed so much more than I have contributed. May God bless you, your family, your church and the efforts we do together as the people known as the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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