By Daniel Potter
We just saw the end of my favorite time of the year: March Madness. Growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, one of the fertile crescents for college basketball, my love for the sport is in my blood. (National Champs!) But, what does college basketball have to do with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship? Let me explain.
Various sports played a pivotal role in my development. Through wrestling, I learned about the importance of self-discipline. Baseball taught me that a 1 for 3 success rate at the plate, though far from perfect, can be admirable. Above all, my sporting experience showed the importance of teamwork. I’ve seen time and again that we achieve more working together than as a collection of individuals. Some call CBF a denomination. Others prefer a “denomi-network.” I call CBF a team.
The symbol for our 25th Anniversary Campaign is an ampersand, a symbol of unity and conjunction. It reminds us that the strongest future is created when we join together. This hits home for me, because I’ve received so much from the team that is CBF.
In my formative years, CBF & my local church helped me develop my understanding of God and what it means to follow Jesus Christ. CBF & PASSPORT helped me discern God’s call in my life during my college years. Later, CBF & the Wake Forest University School of Divinity helped me dive deeper in my quest to know God and my role in what God is accomplishing in our world. In my first call, CBF & First Baptist Church of Columbus, Ga., are helping me become that which God created me to be. Clearly, my journey is riddled with ampersands.
One of my favorite sages from the sporting world is the late, great Coach Dean Smith. He once said, “I do believe in praising that which deserves to be praised.” This is a fitting quote for my faith journey, giving glory to God, and also for my personal and professional journey, thanks in large part to the CBF. I would not be who I am without the CBF’s investment in my life. So, one way I give praise to God and the work God is doing through the CBF is through my support of the 25th Anniversary Campaign.
Coach Smith was a phenomenal motivator, mentor and guide. His programs were successful year after year because they had a culture of paying it forward. Veteran members pour into rookies. Alumni support those veteran players. This sort of culture is the epitome of the ampersand. I was once a “rookie” in the Fellowship, deciphering a call to ministry and empowered by the Vestal Scholarship. Now in what might be my sophomore season, I’m a minister supported by the CBF Fellows program, gleaning wisdom from my peers and CBF veterans. While I’ve drawn so much from the Fellowship, I know I sit in the liminal space between being a relatively new addition with some experience. I am both a future leader and one helping to shape CBF. Thus, a new dynamic of ampersand is present: them – those who I was, am, or will be – & me.
Dean Smith required his players to point to the person who gave them an assist. It was an acknowledgement of the hard work they did to help another succeed. I have the privilege of pointing to the CBF by giving to the 25th Anniversary Campaign. In doing so, I live more fully into my role in the ampersand. Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.
Join Daniel and other Young Baptists in giving sacrificially as part of the CBF team during this Lenten season at www.cbf.net/young-baptist-lenten-challenge.
Daniel Potter currently serves First Baptist Church of Columbus, Ga., as the Minister of Students. He is a past recipient of the Daniel and Earlene Vestal Scholarship and a member of the 2016-2018 CBF Fellows cohort. In his free time, Daniel enjoys spending time with his wife, Rachel, playing with his dog, Tuck, singing, and cheering on his beloved Tar Heels.