Jamie Dew, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president, called on graduates in Leavell Chapel, Dec. 8, to see graduation day not as a season of life ending, but rather the beginning of a time of much greater importance.
Dew recalled his high school graduation to illustrate and explained how he felt at the time that life and everything familiar to him was ending until his principal corrected him, saying, “It’s not over. It’s just beginning.”
“What you do next will be those things that end up mattering the most …” Dew said. “When you exhale on this earth for the last and final time, when the dust settles on your grave one day, [what matters] will be what you’re about to do next.”
Drawing from 1 Timothy 4:6-16, Dew charged graduates to remain faithful to God’s word, walk with Christ, remain committed to following God’s call, live as examples of godliness, and steward well the gifts God had given them.
Pointing to verses 6-7, Dew reminded graduates that they are leaving to serve in a culture filled with deceptive teachings and heresies. The culture will mix truth with right doctrine, Dew warned, and urged graduates to remain “faithful to the word of God and the teachings of Christianity.”
Paul’s warning to Timothy that the culture of that day wanted to water down the teachings of the faith rings true to today’s culture, Dew pointed out.
“This world wants to negotiate what Christianity is actually all about … but understand this: it’s not up for negotiation,” Dew said.
Instead, go into a dark and corrupted world and speak the gospel with clarity and strength, Dew charged.
“It is our duty, it is our task to stand where He told us to stand and to proclaim what He gave us to proclaim,” Dew said. “Graduates … go and be faithful to the word and faithful to the teachings of Christianity itself.”
Graduates must walk with Christ, Dew said, pointing to verse 8 as an argument from “the lesser to the greater. If physical exercise is good then spiritual discipline with “devotion, persistence, consistency and intentionality” is better and will mold the believer to be like Christ, Dew explained.
Dew spoke with urgency in telling listeners that God will call them to a task more difficult than they can handle.
“People that are able and capable of doing hard things are a dying commodity in this world. It’s time to stop being delicate. It’s time to stop being fragile … and go into the dark places and do hard things,” Dew urged. “Don’t shrink back.”
Graduates must live godly lives of love, purity and fidelity before a world “desperate” to see genuine Christianity on display, Dew said.
“Be an example to a lost, broken, thirsty and hungry world,” Dew added.
Dew concluded calling on graduates to be good stewards of the gifts God had given them. Rather than trying to replicate someone else’s ministry, they must model Christ, Dew said, pointing to verses 14-15.
“It’s not over,” Dew told the graduates. “And what you do next will have lasting impact and value for the kingdom of God. Go be faithful. Go out there and love Jesus with everything you’ve got. Go out there and proclaim Him to a hurting, broken, and lost people. Put the fruit of the Spirit on display to a world that is consumed with the works of the flesh and let the Lord Jesus Himself use you in profound ways for His kingdom.”
Norris Grubbs, provost, thanked graduates’ family members for their prayerful support of their graduates. Grubbs asked them to continue praying as they face the challenges of ministry.
“Their need for your support and prayers is not over,” Grubbs said. “In fact, they need you now more than ever.”In separate graduate and undergraduate ceremonies, NOBTS conferred 29 doctoral degrees, including seven Ph.D.s, 18 D.Min. and four D.Ed.Min. degrees, and 100 master degrees and graduate certificates. Leavell College graduates received 39 diplomas and certificates.