As Meador retires, senior leaders applaud his faithful service

Clyde Meador, who serves as executive advisor to the president at the International Mission Board, is retiring—or, more accurately, re-retiring—on June 12 after more than 45 years of service to Southern Baptists.

Meador and his wife, Elaine, began their missionary service with the Southern Baptist Convention entity in Indonesia in 1974. He served through the years as a missionary and mission field leader in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, the Pacific and Oceania. He’s worked closely with four IMB presidents as a top advisor, serving two stints as the organization’s interim president.

Clyde Meador, who serves at executive advisor to the president at the International Mission Board, is retiring on June 12 after more than 45 years of service to Southern Baptists. After his initial retirement in 2016, Meador returned to the IMB in 2018 as interim president. He subsequently filled four additional interim executive leadership roles. (IMB Photo)

The Meadors first retired on May 13, 2016, after 41 years in missionary service and executive roles. His respite from executive duties was short-lived as he was unanimously elected as IMB’s interim president by trustees on Sept. 26, 2018, before the election of current president Paul Chitwood in November 2018. At Chitwood’s request, Meador was approved by trustees to remain in the President’s Office as interim executive vice president for several months during the transition. In February 2019, at the election of Todd Lafferty as IMB’s executive vice president, Meador agreed to remain at the IMB as an executive advisor. In the subsequent months, he would fill the roles of interim vice president of Mobilization; interim vice president of Support Services; and interim vice president of Human Resources.

As a trusted member of IMB’s senior leadership team, Meador’s retirement prompted fellow leaders to share how his work through the agency has impacted international missions and their own lives:

Paul Chitwood, President

Eighteen months ago, I accepted the mantle of leadership from Clyde Meador, who was serving as interim president. At my request, he stayed on and served at my side in various interim roles as I continued to build out our leadership team. Whether as EVP or in Mobilization, Support Services, or Human Resources, Clyde Meador did what Clyde Meador has always done: serve with humility and grace, lead with vision, inspire with his own personal walk with Jesus, and give whatever it takes to get it done. The IMB would still be here had not Clyde Meador been here these last 18 months. But it wouldn’t be this IMB. It would be less. I thank God for Clyde Meador, and not only for the past 18 months, but for the 46 years he and Elaine have served their Lord and Southern Baptists at the IMB.

The IMB would still be here had not Clyde Meador been here these last 18 months. But it wouldn’t be this IMB. It would be less. —Paul Chitwood

Todd Lafferty, Executive Vice President

Clyde Meador was our “Macedonian Man,” calling us to Asia 30 years ago. Through the years, Clyde served as a direct supervisor, mentor, encourager and coach. His article on the “Left Side of the Graph” gave hope and perspective to those who had not seen a movement in their work. Most recently, he has served in three different VP roles at the IMB, all the while giving me great advice and wisdom as I began my role as EVP/COO at the IMB. Clyde has been a model missionary, strategic thinker, innovative administrator, and a stabilizing statesman in the past decade as the IMB has been led by four different presidents. He will be greatly missed, but as he says, “I’m only a phone call away.”

John Brady, Vice President for Global Engagement

Clyde Meador, a classic leader, has been the “glue” that has kept our organization together across the first two decades of the 21st century. Clyde always encouraged us to remember the “left side of the graph” (the part with the difficult work of getting from negatives up to zero), so we can get to the “right side of the graph,” going from zero to one or more believers. In new fields with few visible results, he called us to not give up as we face the struggles of planting the gospel seed in the lives of people in cultures new to us and with resistant religions.

At the same time, Clyde has inspired leaders at all levels across the IMB to abide in Christ as we face the burdens and challenges of leadership. He kept our eyes focused on doing our part to complete the Great Commission with the wonderful end vision from Revelation 7:9.

On a personal level, I appreciate the way Clyde walked beside me during the most difficult days facing the Northern Africa and Middle Eastern Peoples affinity. He encouraged me daily to be calm and reliant on the Lord, standing firm and guiding others as the Lord led me. Thank you, Clyde, for the sacrifices and burdens you have borne as you’ve challenged all of us in the IMB to be instruments that our Lord can use, even in difficult days.

Zane Pratt, Vice President for Global Training

When Clyde Meador became regional leader for Central and Southern Asia in 1998, he inherited a deeply divided region that had just lost half of its regional leadership team. He called a meeting of those in positions of leadership and influence from around the region, most of whom did not know him. The meeting began in an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust. By lunchtime of the first day, all suspicion was gone and we were a unified team, excited about moving ahead under Clyde’s leadership. Clyde was my supervisor from 1998 to 2001, and he has been a trusted mentor and friend since that day in 1998. I have worked under him through the most difficult events in my ministry, and he has consistently been a voice of godly wisdom and calm leadership. There is no one I respect more. Clyde and Elaine Meador have been one of God’s best gifts to the International Mission Board.

Charles Clark, Vice President for Mobilization

I am thankful for Clyde Meador’s steady leadership and mentorship in my numerous IMB leadership roles in the Americas and in Richmond, Virginia. I will never forget coming to Richmond in 2009 for a global Cluster Strategy Leader orientation where Clyde presented the “Five Sacrifices of Leadership.” It was a time of continuous change when many were being asked to step up to positions of leadership as we went through the latest restructuring. Clyde’s presentation brought a refreshing spiritual perspective to the “dangers” and “rewards” that come when one takes on a leadership role. Three of the five sacrifices that stand out are “loss of constant firsthand involvement,” “too much negative knowledge” and “sacrifice, isolation, ostracism.” While the dangers are real, Clyde highlighted the “rewards” of having a bigger participation in God’s work, opportunity to minister to people who are struggling, and having even deeper relationships with personnel and the people we were reaching. His God-inspired wisdom continues to encourage me and many others as he passes the torch and we stand on his shoulders to press forward in the missionary task.

IMB trustee Doug Melton (left), pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, speaks with Clyde Meador, who received a unanimous vote for the role of IMB interim president, during the trustees’ Sept. 26, 2018, meeting near Richmond, Va. (IMB Photo)

Price Jett, Vice President of Logistics, Finance, Travel, and Technology

In 1928, in Birmingham, England, a hairstyling product was created. The company behind it was Brylcreem. Soon, the advertising agency of Young and Rubicam, created a jingle. “Brylcreem—a little dab‘ll do you”—meaning it would only take a little bit of this product to make a huge difference in a man’s appearance. And when that jingle hit the marketplace, the demand for Brylcreem skyrocketed and changed the fortunes of that Birmingham, England, company forever.

I wish I could say that I have known Clyde Meador for decades; I cannot. In fact, I’ve only known Clyde for about 11 months. But in those 11 months, Clyde has had a huge impact on me as a person. I first met him as chief information officer, and he was the vice president of Mobilization. Again, he was acting as both glue and catalyst—glue to hold to organization together on an interim basis and catalyst to drive performance. It wasn’t long after that, Clyde became my boss. It seems Clyde has been the boss of a great deal of people. During that time, he coached and mentored me and, again, he acted as the glue and catalyst for all of Support Services. He held it together while constantly challenging us to be better.

And then in this dynamically changing organization, Clyde (who at that point was treasurer) helped to orient me and helped me gain my sea legs in a new role altogether. So, if you ask me, Clyde is like Brylcreem—a little dab’ll do you. It only takes a little bit of interaction with this man to very quickly realize that you have entered the presence of greatness. Compared to the many people that I have known for a considerable length of time, my time with Clyde has been relatively a little dab. But that little dab did me. And I too have been impacted forever. When I grow up, I want to be like Clyde.

Chris Roberson, Vice President of Human Resources

As a new member of the core team at the IMB, I was blessed to be mentored by Clyde in my first month of employment. We have spent many hours together discussing the evolution of our support structure and processes to best enable field personnel to deliver on our mission. I admire Clyde’s ability to recall such great details about what decisions were made, by whom, when and why. He also shared his ideas for improvement, which makes me feel very equipped to serve in my new role. I wish I could spend the next year working with him because he is so very wise. I think he is the epitome of what God meant in Proverbs 2:6, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” I am thankful for the time I had with Clyde and wish him peace, good health, and happiness in his retirement.