Bob Reccord, immediate-past president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), encouraged graduates at Southwestern Seminary to create a “symphony of leadership, impact and mission” with their lives. Reccord, a two-time graduate of the seminary, addressed these graduates during the spring 2006 commencement at Travis Avenue Baptist Church May 5.

“The biggest tragedy in America is not the waste of its resources. As bad as it may be, the greatest tragedy in America is that the average person goes to the grave with the music still in them,” Reccord said, quoting the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Preaching from Joshua 1, Reccord sounded four “essential notes” that graduates needed in order to produce a “symphony” from their spiritual gifts, calling, relationships and training.

He said ministers must sound the note of intensity. He pointed out that even though God promised to give the land of Canaan to the Israelites, it didn’t come without a fight.

“The call of God doesn’t mean the road will be easy,” Reccord said. This call is  a “life and death struggle,” seen in the battle imagery in Paul’s discussion of the armor of God in Ephesians 6. In the midst of “unexpected” trials, ministers must be “strong and courageous.”

“I’m learning that courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear, but the absence of self,” he said. Courage requires that ministers look to the “greater good.”

“Even when the things get tough, your job is to keep going. It is to keep serving. It is to keep loving, and it is to keep modeling Jesus Christ,” Reccord said.

There is the note of individuality. Reccord pointed out that God did not call Joshua to fill “Moses’ sandals.” Rather, he calls Joshua by his own name. The same is true of other biblical figures such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Zacchaeus and Saul, later known as Paul.

“God has called you to be you, and to bring your sandals to the role he’s given you,” Reccord said.

Third, there is the note of intimacy. Reccord reminded graduates that they, like Joshua, have been called to “meditate on the Word day and night.”

“Make sure the Word gets into you,” Reccord said. “I don’t care how well you can read it. My question is how well you can live it, and the only way that happens is when the Word gets into you.”

Reccord said that a recent poll of 350 Christian leaders across the nation revealed that they had weak personal relationships with their own co-workers. He said the poll results seemed to indicate that many church leaders are passionate about their work, but lacked a complementary passion for the God of the work.

“A passion for the work is great, but if you lose the passion for the One who gave you the work, you’ve lost it all,” Reccord said.

Finally, there is the note of integrity, which is emphasized when God calls Joshua to do what is written in Scripture. This is a call to “be sure your walk matches your talk,” Reccord said.

In Psalm 51:6, David says that God desired, above all, truth in his “inward part.” Reccord added that the list of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 starts with the “belt of truth.”

“The truth of God may flow through His Word, but is also lived out in life because the belt anchored everything else in the armor,” he said.

Southwestern President Paige Patterson said Reccord’s message was especially “appropriate” for the graduates. In his earlier introduction of Reccord, Patterson said Reccord was the “Barnabas of the Southern Baptist Convention” because of the encouragement he has shown many leaders in the SBC.

“I’ve come to love Dr. Bob Reccord in a very special way because of the way that he ministers to everybody else,” Patterson said. “But in addition to (his encouragement), he speaks all across America continually, and … he presents the claims of Christ in a most engaging manner, resulting in people coming to Christ everywhere.”

During the spring 2006 commencement, the Fort Worth seminary and its college awarded 260 degrees to students from 27 states and 13 foreign countries, including Haiti, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, India, Singapore and the Philippines. Eleven students received undergraduate degrees, 237 received master’s degrees, and 12 received doctoral degrees.