I said at the funeral for Dr. Roy Fish last year that I believed him to be the most beloved seminary professor in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. I’ve thought of him often in the last year and wanted to note some lessons he still teaches.
Lesson 1- Talent gets you admired; goodness gets you loved.
Dr. Fish was greatly talented, but the great affection he engendered was not merely because of that. I’ve known, I’m sorry to say, a few very talented teachers and preachers and denominational folks who were knuckleheads. Dr. Fish was unusually kind. He thought of others. He asked questions about others instead of just talking about himself. He opened doors and said kind words and was just plain nice. He was like the really nice waiter at Chick-fill-A (“my pleasure”) only he wasn’t even getting paid to be nice! I admired his talent (he was really, really gifted as a communicator), but I loved his goodness.
Lesson 2- Academic excellence and practical ministry go together.
Why do these two things not go together more? Was there some meeting where folks were asked to pick one or the other? If so, Dr. Fish missed that meeting. He was excellent academically and loved connecting that academic thinking to the real world of the local church and preaching and evangelism. He did two things I would love to see more from our academic communities. He showed preaching passion and evangelistic fervor. He loved the local church and encouraged his students to love her. He shared his faith with his neighbors and waiters. See my recent posts on https://dougmunton.com/2013/09/26/when-i-am-the-dictator-of-the-sbc-part-2/ for my hopes for this to become more common.
Lesson 3- Who you are in private affects who you become in public.
You might fake it for a while, but the real you will leak out eventually. Slimy or sweet, the real you will leak out. Dr. Fish was really serious about prayer- really serious. He had a “quiet time”– you know, an old fashioned read the bible and pray each morning devotional time. It made him genuine. I don’t mean he was perfect. I mean he wanted to be perfect to follow the example of his perfect Savior. He was serious about holiness. And, one other thing. He was humble. Not the “this great award humbles me” kind of faux humility. The real “God is great and I am not worthy to loosen the sandals of my Savior” kind of humility. And that private Dr. Fish oozed out all over the place and that was the best kind of ooze I know.
What lessons will people learn from you?