O.S. Hawkins and Stewardship

Regular readers of this insignificant corner of the blogosphere will already know of my concern about the stewardship of our convention resources. I’m frustrated that our Cooperative Program dollars have been spent too carelessly at times, and I’m sure there is enough blame to spread around all of the agencies. When you hear that seminary presidents have personal chefs and housemaids and hostesses on convention payroll to make of their our official residences a more silent witness decadent domicile, it can become quite disheartening. When you hear those same leaders appealing for more convention dollars it becomes downright insulting.

But there are some commendable and praiseworthy instances of denominational stewardship, and today I saw one of them.

While I was waiting to board an outbound plane from Dallas-Ft. Worth to come to Greensboro, NC, for the annual meeting, I sat at the gate watching a few SBC/SBTC bigwhigs mulling around the sitting area. That’s when I noticed that Guidestone President O.S. Hawkins was waiting there with his lovely wife, Susie. The call for first class passengers sounded in the loudspeaker, and I arose to board, having upgraded my ticket from a coach seat. Once seated comfortably in First Class, I watched as the file of convention-bound Baptists boarded the plane and found their seats in coach class. I watched carefully, wondering which two first class seats would be occupied by Dr. and Mrs. Hawkins, planning on pulling a modest prank on him once he was seated.

To my suprise, Dr. and Mrs. Hawkins made their way to coach to be seated with most other convention goers.

Now, I realize that the Hawkinses probably have more frequent flyer miles than I do, and that he could have easily upgraded to First Class. I also realize that the president of Guidestone has a significant travel expense, which is necessary for him to accomplish the task of administering our retirement fund and representing our various stockholding interests. But when he travels on the convention expense, Dr. Hawkins travels coach.

This impresses me. Not because I think he deserves to sit in coach, because it would probably cost him nothing to upgrade. It just reflects his desire to assure Southern Baptists — and there was a plane full of them — that the administration of our retirement funds are not appropriated on executive perks and privileges. They are used to build our retirement…to maximize the return on our investments.

It also helps for young pastors — like my friend from Ft. Worth and me — to see that the president of our annuity fund does not see himself as an elitist. A man who runs with the rich and powerful and who commands attention and respect by men more powerful than he has not lost the common touch. He has not climbed so high that he cannot see the bottom rung anymore.

Of course, I thought of how Jimmy Hoffa ran the Teamster’s retirement fund. Hoffa would have been in first class on the nickels and dimes of poor bologna-eating truckdrivers.

Today I was taught by O.S. Hawkins. Not by a sermon, though he can surely preach them. Not by a challenge, though he can surely give them.

Rather, I observed his silent witness, and paused tonight to thank God for him. And I wonder how many dollars go back into our retirement funds or help with Adopt-an-Annuitant widows because O.S. is faithful in the little things?