On campuses across the state and as missionaries around the world
COOKEVILLE — Last weekend 352 college students involved in Baptist Collegiate Ministry and their leaders gathered at Tennessee Tech University here for the 2012 Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) Spring Leadership Conference.
The theme of the meeting was “Leading to Where? — I Corinthians 11:1.”
The college students involved are leaders of their BCMs and/or missionaries preparing to serve this summer or an upcoming semester through the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s collegiate missions program, Send TN Missions (sendtnmissions.org) in coordination with the North American Mission Board or the International Mission Board. About 60 student missionaries participated.
The TBC offers BCM on over 30 campuses across the state of which 21 have full-time or part-time directors, reported Julie Heath, TBC ministry assistant for collegiate ministries.
Brycen Wilson of Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, said he attended the conference to “get together with people with the same intentions and passions” which are to “spread God’s Word.” Wilson added that God “is the only joy.”
Jake Darlington, a student at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, said he came to the conference last year because he had been appointed to the leadership team of his BCM and came again to prepare for a new leadership role.
The information he gained from the sessions was “very beneficial,” he said. “I feel like I learned a lot.” Darlington added that he would have come this year even if he was not once again named a leader of the UT-K BCM.
Danna Myatt, who attends Chattanooga State Community College, Chattanooga, learned about the conference at her church, Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga. She came to the conference with students of the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga.
Myatt said she came “to learn more about what it means to be a leader.” She explained that her church is asking Christians to make disciples.
“I’ve been really blessed by the sermons and the sessions we’ve had. … I’ve gotten a lot out of it,” said Myatt.
The BCM Spring Leadership Conference offered general sessions which included worship led by worship bands from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, and Austin Peay State University, Clarksville. The students also attended seminars led by ministers and BCM directors, missionary orientation and commissioning and fun time. On Saturday they were fed lunch by Stevens Street Baptist Church, Cookeville.
Matt Giles, senior pastor, Lyons Creek Baptist Church, Strawberry Plains, spoke during three of the four main sessions of the conference.
In one session, Giles spoke on “Following #epicfail,” a play on twitter formatting.
Giles told the students that in life they have two choices — either they choose God to meet their needs or people or things made by people to meet their needs.
He pointed them to Jeremiah 17:5-8 which says that the person who trusts in man is cursed by God.
Despite this fact, people often place their trust in money over God, said Giles. He admitted he does this some. His wife is frugal but he enjoys things especially “techy” items or things related to technology, he added.
Just like a lot of people, said Giles, he might decide that “life is not complete until I have an Apple something — whatever it is.”
He said what if he is sitting in Starbucks using a new MacBook Air when he notices a guy at the next table using a MacBook Air but his has keys that are lit, so he asks him about it. The guy says his is the “new” MacBook Air.
Instead of feeling like I am “awesome, better than everyone else, cutting edge,” said Giles, he feels like “nothing, garbage.
“The need that I had to be approved of and looked at differently from everyone else” was not met and his choice to meet that need led to disappointment, he noted.
He suggested that people will never have enough of whatever if it comes from man. “There’s always something bigger and better in terms of possessions to fulfill you.”
He warned them that people can let items define them.
He also warned them against seeking approval and praise from people. In other words they are placing their trust in someone else, he explained.
People also let other people make their decisions, stated Giles.
Their relationships and especially their main relationships as they seek a spouse are also affected by the decision of whether to put their trust in God or people and earthly things, he said.
“If you go into a relationship making that person fulfill your needs, you are in for a sad, sad road,” said Giles. He added that it also is just “creepy,” and puts too much pressure on the person being depended upon.
This dependence often leads a person to try to control another person which is impossible, he continued. It’s difficult just to get another person to call him, he observed.
Often the person being depended upon will leave. This also leads people to decide that they have chosen the wrong spouse.
These kinds of relationships also occur when a boy or girl wants the other to meet their physical needs, said Giles. Because the other person wants that person to meet all of their needs, they give in. But people bail out of these relationships because they are too demanding and it is impossible to meet another person’s needs.
“You can only control you.”
Another example of a bad outcome when seeking approval from another, said Giles, may be seen in a person who has a hard time telling the truth. If that person is dependent on other people’s approval, he or she is more prone to lie because they don’t want to tell someone how they really feel.
Another sign of this problem is when a person often presents their resume in conversation or is obsessed with everything he or she has done.
The desire for approval from people is a sign that a person is trusting people rather than God, said Giles. This desire will leave us “exhausted and empty all the time,” he observed.
If an employee is always seeking praise from his or her employer they are “under their control,” noted Giles.
If at the BCM they don’t like someone for various reasons which actually might seem logical, they might want that person’s approval and not realize that the person also is controlling them.
“If you are obsessed with another person, guess what, they are controlling you.”
He pointed them to Jeremiah 17:6-8, noting that in comparison to the person who trusts people who is like a shrub or bush in a salty desert, the person who trusts in God is like a tree near water. He added that the tree suffers from heat but survives. Giles observed that as illustrated in these verses, everything on earth has problems but those who depend on God will survive.
Non-Christians and Christians who depend on people, are like the bush starving for water, “barely surviving,” said Giles. “A lot of Christians, that’s the way they live their lives … unsatisfied.”
Instead of becoming indecisive and turning to people, be fulfilled and satisfied, said Giles. This is when “who you are comes from God.”
In the ministry he is criticized, he stated. He asked the students if it is possible for a pastor to do everything that is asked of him to keep people happy.
People should realize that their approval from God “was finished in the cross. He requires nothing other than trust.
“People do not define your value,” Giles told the students.
He said he hoped that they would get to the point in their Christian lives when their understanding of their value in Christ leads them to help other people and draw other people to Him.
When you understand that you have received approval from God “you can love people unconditionally,” Giles added.
“You can’t lead people when you need people rather than God. … When you need people less you can influence them more.” He added that if they don’t fear people they can lead them more easily, he stated.
Ironically, a Christian must follow (God) to lead and follow (God) to trust, he said.
“What Jesus did on the cross is all the approval you need,” concluded Giles.