John McCain's Pastor to Seminary Students: Your Success Will Only Come From the Lord

Noe Garcia
Noe Garcia, senior pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church of Phoenix, Arizona, speaking at the Oct. 18, 2018 chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. |

The former pastor for the recently deceased Senator John McCain told students at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky that their success will only come from God.

Noe Garcia, senior pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, which was Sen. McCain's home church, preached at an Oct. 18 chapel service.

During his remarks, Garcia argued that when the seminarians graduate and go into ministry, they should not look for success in worldly matters.

"Your success will not come from the degrees hanging on your wall," said Garcia. "Your success will not come from who you know. Your success will not come from your bank account."

"Your success will not come from your mentors. Your success will not come from your charisma. Your success will not come from anything but the Lord."

Himself an alumnus of SBTS, Garcia also explained to the students gathered for the service that full dependence on God was an important first step for anyone involved in ministry.

"The most dangerous thing for us as Christians in a seminary [environment] is for you to get drunk off your own skills and giftings — never relying on the Spirit of God," continued Garcia.

"Some of us are more burdened for success in our ministry than we are for the glory of God's name ... We are living on this mission for his name alone, and no one gets the glory for that but God."

In August, Vietnam War veteran and long-serving United States Senator John McCain passed away after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

While affiliated with The Episcopal Church, McCain attended Garcia's church for several years, with the pastor giving the opening remarks at the Arizona senator's funeral.

In his opening remarks at the funeral, Garcia described McCain as "a true American hero," "a man loved by this church," "a man loved by this nation," and "a man of courage" as well as "a man of faith."

"We will mourn, Father," prayed Garcia, "but we will do so with a different hope because of the faith he has placed in Jesus Christ. That we can with confidence grieve with the hope to know at this very moment, he is spending eternity with Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior."

Garcia's sermon at SBTS about how to measure success comes weeks after LifeWay Research released findings indicating that the salaries for Southern Baptist Convention pastors were not keeping up with the inflation rate.

The biannual study reported that for full-time senior pastors in the SBC, compensation, defined as salary plus housing, increased 3.8 percent over the past two years. By contrast, the U.S. Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index for the same time period increased 4.6 percent.

According to LifeWay, factors that contributed to greater compensation included more years of experience, overseeing a larger congregation, and a higher education level.

"Those with a bachelor's degree earn an average of $5,681 more than similarly qualified pastors with no college education or an associate degree," explained LifeWay at the time.

"Master's and doctorate degrees correspond with compensation increases of $5,754 and $10,868, respectively, when compared to college graduates."

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