Editorial: Too many prairie chickens


Each year the editors and associate editors of the Association of State Baptist Publications meet for the purpose of sharing information about best practices for our calling. There are also significant times of inspiration and fellowship.

This year Joe Westbury and I had the privilege of sharing with the editors about how we are attempting to transition The Christian Index to more of a digital publication.

In addition to some of the other editors sharing their stories, we had the privilege of hearing from some of our Southern Baptist leaders. David Platt, president of the International Mission Board; Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board; Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Frank Page, the president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, were among the presenters that addressed our group of journalists.

The featured facilitator and presenter was Michael Chute, former editor of the Florida Baptist Witness and current professor of journalism and director of Journalism & News Media and Public Relations at California Baptist University.

Each morning we had a devotional speaker to inspire and motive us to greater Christian living. On Wednesday morning Tony Martin, associate editor of The Baptist Record in Mississippi, delivered the devotional message.

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Martin has an engaging personality and admitted that although he is approaching his 60th birthday he is having trouble adjusting to life as an adult. His effort to maintain his perennial youth is enhanced by the fact that in addition to his duties as associate editor he is also serving in his seventh year as an interim student pastor in a Mississippi Baptist church.

Martin talked about going back to one of his high school reunions in a small Alabama town. He was interested in meeting old friends and classmates and finding out about their lives’ stories since graduating from high school.

He discovered that one of his school contemporaries had actually become a rocket scientist and was working at the National Aeronautics And Space Administration in Huntsville, AL. The Baptist Record associate editor said, “He was pretty much of a nerd when he was in high school and used his commitment to scholarship and diligence propel him to success.

“But there was another classmate who was rather indolent and lazy when he was in school and I discovered that he was a part-time worker on a catfish farm; and he was completely happy with his lot in life.”

Martin used the stories of these fellow students to illustrate that aspiration and diligence have their reward, but also emphasized that far too many people become too satisfied with too little.

“There is the familiar story of the prairie chicken,” Martin recalled. “The prairie chicken is a nasty, earth-bound bird that doesn’t fly and is content to shuffle through the desert and eat bugs and worms. The prairie chicken knows nothing about soaring to the heights.

“However, high up in the mountains, there was an eagle sitting upon the craggy heights. One day one of the eagle’s eggs somehow was inadvertently nudged out of the nest and rolled all the way to the desert floor below and somehow ended up in the nest of a prairie chicken and eventually hatched.

“Amazingly, on the desert floor, far beneath the lofty heights of the majestic eagle’s domain, the lone eaglet is growing up in the humble environs of the lowly prairie chicken. Knowing nothing of what it is really like to be an eagle, the eaglet becomes content to live life on the plains of mediocrity and ordinariness.

“One day the eaglet saw a mighty eagle soaring magnificently high above the earth and asked himself, ‘I wonder what it is like to soar through the heavens like that?’ However, his question did not move him to spread his wings and become what God created him to be.”

Martin clearly made his point by stating, “We must not be content with low-level living. We must aspire to the heights. We must never become satisfied with ordinary Christian living.”

The Bible says “But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40: 31). We must wait upon the Lord, find out where He is working, join Him, and do His biding.

The truth is that the present social, political, moral, and spiritual crises we face demands surrendered Christian lives and constant vigilance. We are living in a moment that could determine our destiny. It is time for those who believe in Christ to aspire to the heights.

Are you content to be a prairie chicken or do you desire to soar like an eagle?

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