'Lord here am I, send me,' Floyd says of EC post

by Diana Chandler, posted Monday, April 08, 2019 (5 months ago)

Ronnie Floyd, president-elect of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, included Acts 20:24 in his April 7 sermon announcing his resignation as senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest, Arkansas.
Cross Church photo
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- Ronnie Floyd had told his wife Jeana not to worry. Jeana couldn't shake a feeling that one of five Southern Baptist Convention entities seeking presidents at that time would recruit her husband to the helm.

"We're happy," Floyd reassured her. "It's not going to happen. God is moving, all is well."

Months later as he and Jeana were completing Floyd's second interview with a search committee charged with finding a new president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, the conversation between the husband and wife of 42 years was different.

"She said, 'Well, we're moving to Nashville,'" Floyd told his pastorate April 7. "And I said, 'You may be right.'"

In resigning his pastorate at Cross Church in northwest, Ark., Floyd recounted a providential turn of events that began before the fall of 2018 when the SBC EC contacted him, and hinging greatly on quiet times with the Lord in March of 2018.

Floyd will preach his final sermon May 19 as senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest, Arkansas, he said in announcing his resignation April 7.
Cross Church photo
On March 4, 2018, Floyd said, God led him to begin praying daily Isaiah 6:8.

"I don't understand it to this day, but I get it more and more day by day," Floyd said. "But God began to impress on my heart that I needed to pray the words of Isaiah 6:8 day by day. And for 13 plus [months] I've said those words to God every day. Lord, here am I, send me.

"I would have never ever imagined that it would mean a change in my calling, a change in position and a change in location."

Floyd agreed April 2 to serve as president and CEO of the SBC EC, and to resign the pastorate he has held nearly 33 years.

"The question I've been asked from time to time already, 'How did I determine this radical change in calling, position and location? How did you determine that it is God's will for your life?'" Floyd said. "I have an answer to that: God moments -- points in time when God not only defined my life, but also turned my life towards God's directions, God's plans and God’s will for my life."

He and Jeana sought the Lord's guidance for weeks in "a whole new, high intentional level like we had not done."

His prayers since last year have included:

-- "Father I surrender [to] whatever your will, wherever your will and however your will. Let it be done according to your prayer and will."

-- "Holy Spirit, I surrender my will to Jesus Christ my Lord absolutely and irrevocably," Floyd borrowed a prayer from the writings of Oswald Chambers. "Complete death to self has to occur," Floyd told Cross Church, "in order to really hear God really speak to us."

"God gave Jeana and me God moment after God moment that led us to God's will," Floyd told his congregation. "So here we are."

Floyd called those moments "stones of remembrance," preaching from Joshua 4:1-3 when God instructed Joshua to take a stone from the bed of the Jordan River as a remembrance for each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Floyd had reconstructive surgery Dec. 14 to treat basic skin cancer and sun damage through the years and was secluded from the public for five weeks to allow the surgery to heal properly. He engaged in a complete fast Jan. 1–21 and sought God's guidance.

"My entire life was private: Jesus, me and Jeana," Floyd said in his sermon posted on the Cross Church Facebook page. “God uses all things. … God was preparing my heart for this ultimate calling in my life. God uses everything we walk through in life in order to prepare us for what He has ahead of us.”

God continued to unveil Floyd’s new calling to the couple.

"God laid [my calling] on the heart that had been wrapped in Isaiah 6:8, Lord here am I send me," Floyd said. "On January 24, three days after I concluded that fast, God used the Words of Jesus in Revelation 3:8 in my life dramatically. … Then again on March 7, 2019, God brings that verse and confronts me head to head, face to face."

On Feb. 14 and March 5, Floyd said, "God used Paul's words in Acts 20:22-24 to slay our spirts and create a desire to live it out, even as hard as it is."

In Arkansas, he and Jeana live near their son Nick, daughter-in-law Meredith, grandchildren Reese, Beckham, Norah and Maya, and help care for Jeana's 95-year-old mother Effie Thomas. Just 2 1/2 years ago, he and Jeana sold their home of 13 years, bought an older home and remodeled it.

"We absolutely love it. Every bit of it we love. It's like a retreat every time we go there," Floyd said of their home. "But it had to go on the altar too. We had to die to it, even though we've loved it. We've released it to the Lord and prayerfully the Lord will use somebody to buy it so we can buy a home in Nashville, Tennessee."

Floyd will preach his last sermon May 19 at Cross Church and will unveil April 14 the name of the candidate to succeed him, based on considerations he and the church began two years ago.

In Nashville, Floyd and Jeana will live closer to their son Josh, daughter-in-law Kate, and grandchildren Peyton, Parker and Jack. Jeana's mother will live in an assisted living facility in Lubbock, Texas, near Jeana's brother.

"We had to work through that, the energy, the resources, the life that we've lived," Floyd said. "But yet we felt it was the will of God."

Floyd announced his resignation fighting back tears, telling his congregation he loved them. Members stood and applauded.

The oldest "stone of remembrance" Floyd shared was placed, he said, during his SBC presidential address on June 16, 2015 in the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. There, he preached from Revelation 3:8, commissioning the SBC to do the Lord's work, no matter the cost.

Today, Floyd sees the Lord reiterating His words.

"It's like the Spirit of God walked into my office and He said whatever the cost, whatever the risk, this worldwide mission must be our priority," Floyd said. "Now is the time to lead. And on that day my own Isaiah 6 moment lived again. Lord here am I, send me."

Floyd pledged to continue praying for the church.

"The Lord has taken this great church that was already here, and standing on the shoulders of the past we have now seen the hand of God do miracle after miracle," Floyd said. "I will encourage and pray for you often, standing ready to help you in any way possible.

"Soon you will have a new pastor, and I ask you now, once I leave," Floyd said, "please transfer your love and your commitment to him, from the moment the leadership baton is passed from me to him."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was corrected in the 15th paragraph at 7:03 p.m. April 8.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.
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