Leadership in Bite Sizes

            Effective Leaders are learners.  Many years ago, I wrote what I had been learning about leadership; hopefully they can be of encouragement to you as you think about the leadership role that God in which God has allowed you to serve:

Leaders are learners…Those who are not are not leaders for long….

We live in an information society so leaders need to “traffic” in the currency of today’s world…leaders who are not growing and learning will not be leaders for long.  Jim Harrington, the former District Missionary of the Union Baptist Association in Houston said that the 4 skills for the 21st century leader are:  Personal Mastery (knowing who God made you to be), Developing Vision (ability to discern God’s future for the ministry or organization you lead), Communicating Vision (ability to dynamically communicate God’s vision for your ministry) and  Shepherding Vision (the ability to shape the organization you lead in accordance with God’s vision)

Leaders must have a clear leadership development discipline.  We should be learning and growing in our relationship with Christ and our leadership capacity on a sustained basis.  Growing in our understanding of God’s Word, reading books, listening to tapes, attending seminars, investing in personal mentorship with other growing leaders are “baseline” activities for those who want to lead with excellence in the Body of Christ. 

Leaders are visionaries….This doesn’t mean they see only the future and not the present.  This means they see the future AND connect the present to it…

Bert Nanus said that “The right vision is an idea so powerful that it literally jump-starts the future by calling forth the energies, talents, and resources to make things happen” (Nanus, Visionary Leadership, 1992).  George Barna said that “vision is a clear mental image of a preferable future, imparted by God to his chosen servants, based upon an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances”(Barna, Without a Vision, the People Perish, 1991).  Leaders are visionaries to be sure.  However, that doesn’t mean that leaders see only the future without regard to the present.  Leaders understand the need to connect the present (the “what is”) with the future (“what can be”).  One of my favorite people on this subject is Christopher Robin in “Winnie the Pooh” who says “Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up”

            Leadership and management are really NOT at odds with each other as you may have heard.  The difference is in what they manage.  Managers manage process (making sure things get done the right way).  Leaders manage values (making sure the right things get done).  Both leadership and management are essential…leadership without management leads to chaos; management without leadership leads to stagnation.

            God has long used leaders like Moses and linked them with managers like Aaron so that God’s people could go into His future together.

            What are you learning lately?  How is God helping you in your leadership role to connect the present with His vision for the future?

Reparenting and Ronald Reagan

Every once in a while, I’ll use the phrase “re-parenting”.  I think of that when I meet someone who has had a really rough time in life and, most of the time by their own admission, could use some “re-parenting” to help learn basic relationship and life skills.  When President Reagan died, I thought about how he was responsible for “re-parenting” America during his term as President.  Four things I think that President Reagan gave us were:

1)  A clear set of convictions.  Even if you disagreed with the man, he was clear in his convictions and core beliefs.  It seems certain that history will say that his convictions changed the world!

2)  A strong sense of hope.  America prior to Reagan went through a “malaise” period.  Reagan brought sunshine and optimism about the future.

3)  A belief in the value of human life.  Reagan constantly went to “the people” and put his trust in others and believed in their ability to grow forward with grace

4)  An uncommon grace in the moment.  Reagan could be comfortable with the wealthy and the poor, the powerful and the powerless.  He seemed to know what to say, when, and to whom (therefore the name, “The Great Communicator”).

Parents….these are the same EXACT qualities that we would do well to emulate.  We are needed for our own families…..to give a firm foundation of belief, a strong sense of hope about the future, fundamental belief about the value of our children and family members, and an ability to be what is required in the moment.  We all need reparenting once in a while…

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Jessup

William Jessup University is a covenant community for Christ-centered higher education. We believe that our calling is to live and model what Jesus intends for us as the Kingdom of God people we are in the midst of the everyday realities of life. Scripture tells us in Ephesians 4:3 that we have to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit”. As followers of Jesus, there is a unity that is transcendent of every other reality of life. And yet, in these times, that truth is hard to see in the fog of pain and confusion we live in. I personally want to resolve the tensions that I experience as I see pain and injustice, and many of us just want to go back to “normal”.

Even as I write the date at the top of the page, I am in a bit of a fog. How could we have gotten to this point in 2020, and how could 2020 have gotten to this point? Further, how could we have experienced the last 100 days of COVID-19 and the last 16 days since the May 25th date of the murder of George Floyd, a man and name that now is synonymous with injustice and betrayal of Black Americans? Pain, loss, anger, injustice, shock. What some people have experienced for generations is only now being exposed and expressed by multitudes. Acts of violence and injustice have occurred by some law enforcement officials against black Americans and now some law enforcement officials have lost their lives as well. Society is troubled and increasingly we recognize that the American experience continues to fall far short of our founding ideals; ideals we have expressed boldly but have failed greatly to achieve for many in our history and in our present. At Jessup, we condemn racism in every manifestation as a work of Satan, the enemy of our souls.

I have spent a number of hours in prayer, study of God’s word, personal meetings, hard conversations, and in tears as I have spoken with faculty, staff, and students of Jessup, pastors in our regional community, and with the general public via social media. Further, there are a number of conversations I am having in the days and weeks ahead with my friends who are black pastors, faculty/staff/students at Jessup who are wounded and hurting. As one personal example, I recently made a social media post which I later deleted because I have come to understand that in this current environment, the content of the post itself was offensive to people I love and care deeply about. I am personally sorry for having caused pain to people. Further, I have decided to not participate in social media these next 30 days so that I can increasingly hear the voice of the Lord and of our community in the midst of these challenging moments.

It is in this environment that Jessup University is taking our next steps. Previously, we discussed how each of us personally need to accept responsibility and take action individually(https://jessup.edu/about/office-of-the-president/pray-press-in-push-forward/). Based on Scripture in John 10:10, we know that the fingerprints of the enemy (stealing, killing and destroying) are contrasted with the fingerprints of Jesus (life, abundance, freedom). We want to be Micah 6:8 people and love justice, do mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We know that we are praying, we are pressing in, and we are pushing forward. What does that mean, in real action steps, for Jessup in real time here in June of 2020?

Some of you will know that Jessup established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force in 2017; the group met monthly during 2017-18 and formulated a plan of action during 2019; their final report was prepared in April of 2019. That report encompassed five major goals and 21 support recommendations. The report included work on a potential new chapter in the Community Covenant and the President and General Counsel have been working on that with the DEI Chair since early Fall, 2019. The Task Force, now a standing committee, has now provided me with their priorities which are condensed into four action steps for immediate implementation. The full report of the Committee and its recommendations, from which the four action steps are derived will be made available to the Jessup Community through MyJessup within the next few days.

However, in light of the great urgency we all are experiencing, and in order to facilitate these next steps quickly and well, I wanted you to see them here (edited for space considerations) and how we will be going about accomplishing them:

DEI Committee Recommendations 2020

Foundations:

  1. All-Staff Conversations be held at the call of the President via Zoom or face to face wherever possible.ACTION: We will schedule a series of conversations in June, July, & August.
  2. Unity in Diversity Community Covenant Chapter.ACTION: The Board of Trustees will be considering a renewed Unity in Diversity emphasis and statement at its October 2020 meeting.

Action Steps:

  1. Professional Development/Training for Faculty and Staff.ACTION: University wide faculty and staff training to be scheduled for Fall 2020 with input from DEI Committee. We will also be providing additional training for students throughout the Academic Year in 20/21 through Chapels and Student Life support.
  2. Grievance Process.ACTION: DEI Committee will recommend a grievance process; the President will seek to implement by Fall 2020.
  3. Affinity Groups.ACTION: The President and/or VPAA will engage with leadership of BSU regarding regular communication and process to address specific concerns and hear experiences.
  4. Equity/Inclusion Coordinator Role.ACTION: The President is seeking to establish a DEI Coordinator for a strategic and solutions oriented approach to critical matters of student, staff, and faculty experiences related to the Jessup experience of Unity & Diversity.

William Jessup University longs to be the type of Christ Centered University that manifests the life and love of Jesus. Our DEI Committee has been helping to shape our common understandings. I would like to close this document with a series of Biblical and theological affirmations that form the foundation and core of who we long to be as a covenant community. When I fall short of these affirmations, I seek your forgiveness. I pray that we are a community full of grace and truth, just like Jesus.

Here are our foundations regarding Unity and Diversity:

We believe that:

  1. Our acknowledgement and embracing of our diversity begins with an understanding of who we were created to be, and how Christ Himself has unified us and brought us together for the glory of God, baptizing us into one body as joint heirs to the kingdom of God. (Malachi 2:10; Psalm 133:1; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 8:17).
  2. Because Christ has unified us, we can pursue Christ’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Out of love for one another, we can embrace and appreciate our differences while recognizing we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Genesis 1:27; Psalms 139:14).
  3. In recognizing that our differences are a reason for celebration, we acknowledge that the richness of our diversity is to be found in many ways, including but not limited to: race, ethnicity, culture, language, gender, socioeconomic status, class, age, ability, denomination, and theology. We are a diverse society and desire that our campus reflect that diversity as a strength and an essential part of God’s plan. (Galatians 3:28)
  4. Whether it is diversity of thought, activities or people—our lives are enriched as we learn about, experience and discover the world created by God and the diversity He has created within it. Therefore, we must submit to Christ and love one another as we respect and reflect the diversity in which we are created while pursuing the unity for which Jesus prayed and to which we are called. (John 17:21).

Thank you for being Kingdom of God people. Thank you for being Jesus people. Thank you for being broken and wounded travelers seeking to point to the One who makes all things new and makes all things whole in His time.

For His Glory,

John Jackson, PhD
President

When Words are not enough…

I wrote this to our William Jessup University Community (www.jessup.edu) this past week as we grapple with the pain of these hours:

Dear Jessup Community,

Words are not our first priority right now.  Love is.  Compassion is.  Understanding is.  Like you, my emotions and thoughts have been jumbled these last many months with the combination of a pandemic and now the multiple incidents of injustice against black citizens; these as an added chorus to a seemingly unbroken string of generational pain and broken promises.  All of these events are now coupled with violence in urban, suburban, and rural settings across America.  Chaos reigns and our hearts are broken.  What can we say in a time like this?  We long for a Micah 6:8 society where we can “Love justice, do mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” 

As the President of William Jessup University, I’ve been active on social media and have reached out to several friends and leaders in the Christian community in our region and in the nation.  I have talked and written much, largely in “real time” with the external world.  But, those conversations and writing have not been enough and I know our times call for more.

At this time, I also feel a need to speak clearly to our Jessup community about several things:

  1. We believe in the Imago Dei.  That means we believe that every human life is precious and has value derived from God, our Creator.  We condemn racism, bigotry, and the evil inherent in our fallen human systems.  We know that God is good and that Satan is evil.  We know that John 10:10 is a declaration of the “fingerprints” of Satan and of Jesus.
  2. We condemn violence at every turn.  Violence against people, property and society is a destructive urge that is demonic and we condemn it at every level.  It seems clear that peaceful protests are being infiltrated by agents of anarchy and destruction and we condemn their behavior and support our law enforcement officials restoring order to our society.
  3. We are heartbroken at the fractures in our society and recognize that many people in the Jessup community, Sacramento region, and across California are suffering and grieving losses during these hours.  We are a covenant people and covenant to walk in grace and truth to see the name of the Lord lifted up for the healing of the nations during these hours.

Galatians 3:28 tells us that in Christ that there are no differences and we are all one in Him.  I believe that truth with every fiber of my being.  BUT, the reality in this life does not manifest that way.  Our fellow colleagues and family members who are people of color  often experience injustice and pain at greater levels and deeper injustice than many of us who are white can comprehend.  We have all seen law enforcement officials who have grieved with hurting people and we recognize that stereotyping police or protesters is not helpful.  All of these scenes create a conflicting montage in our minds and our hearts.

So what can we do in the midst of these conflicts?  I believe there are 3 specific things we must DO as a “first fruits” offering to the Lord as an act of worship:

1) Pray.  Prayer is NOT passive.  Prayer is the active engagement of heaven with earth.  Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to pray.  Take hold of heaven; we desperately need heaven on earth as Jesus declared was the Father’s will.  Of course we will pray personally and in our small groups and churches.  We will also hold multiple prayer vigils in the days and weeks to come. Stay tuned for details about the first prayer vigil to be held this Wednesday night, led by our Student Life Ministries.

2) Press In. Please talk with our African American colleagues and fellow students and just ask, “How are you doing? Is there anything I can do to help you or support you?  Help me understand what you are feeling so that I can understand a small portion of your reality.”  Listen.  Listen hard. I have reached out to several of my Black friends and asked them to teach me, again.  I am learning and leaning in; all of us must be willing to love, listen, and learn. 

3) Push Forward.     Ask God to show you what one thing you can do to help our world recover from the devastation of our unjust and sin-stained present reality. It can be simple or it can be huge. We all need a Savior, and these times demonstrate that once again.  How can we lovingly lift up Jesus to a world broken and scarred by sin and injustice?

My heart is broken, but my hope is not lost.  Our hope is in Him.  He is our peace, He is our hope, and He is our joy.  This life is not our ending point, but we have a responsibility to live in such a way as to love and serve in a way that brings glory to Jesus.  Thank you for your heartbeat and our shared ability to live, love, and serve together.

For His Glory And With Hope,

John Jackson, PhD

President

Exciting News for Summer & Fall 2020 from William Jessup University

William Jessup University is excited to see the many lives being transformed across all of our student populations.  Campus-based and distributed options are flourishing at Jessup, even as we navigate the wind-down of the spring semester during the Covid-19 pandemic.  The Jessup faculty and staff community have been heroic in their efforts and impact upon student lives under the most trying of circumstances.  Jessup students have shown themselves to be amazingly flexible, compassionate, and resilient during this uncertain and disruptive time; their character exemplifies the spirits of transformational leaders and Jessup Warriors.

Thankfully and mercifully, Jessup has remained free of any confirmed coronavirus cases across our student, staff, and faculty communities.  Please join me in continuing to pray for God’s provision of health and safety over our students, our staff and faculty, and the Jessup community as a whole.  

Many are now asking, “What next?”  I want to be clear that our mission remains the same: “William Jessup University partners with the Church to educate transformational leaders for the glory of God.”  We are a Christ-centered university, equipping men and women for God-honoring influence across every sphere and sector of our society.

So, what is next?  Jessup will continue to work with our respected County and City leadership, along with our health care and law enforcement professionals to maintain a thriving educational environment on our campuses.  Thankfully, our large and spacious campus environment at all 3 of our campus allows us to accomplish social distancing and other appropriate measures as needed.  Our goal for summer includes the provision of  science classes for a limited number of students, with appropriate social distancing and healthcare protocols, to ensure that our health sciences students in the community can be prepared for fall.  It is also our strong and faithful intent to resume on-campus instruction at our Rocklin, San Jose, and Elk Grove campuses for this fall. 

We recognize that Jessup is not just a school, it is a community – connected by our love of learning, of each other, and of our Lord.  It is important educationally, socially, and spiritually, for us to be together.  With input from our local health officials, we are working diligently towards resuming our personalized transformational education on campus as soon as possible.  We look forward to the time when we safely gather, learn, and worship together in community…on campus and distributed…as One Jessup.   

We will provide you with further details regarding our protocols and practices in the days and weeks to come.  Please stay alerted to our website (jessup.edu) and social media platforms (Twitter: @williamjessup, Facebook: facebook.com/williamjessupuniversity, Instagram: @jessupu ) for more up to date information.

An Open Letter to Governor Newsom and CA County Leaders

Churches and Counties Working Together for Public Health

COVID-19 has changed so much.  But, the best of our lives have not changed.   We are strong and a resilient people and heroes are emerging from our midst every day.  We personally want to thank Governor Newsom for his steady leadership during this crisis.  Further, we have dared to believe for a miracle and the fact that California has thus far been spared the most severe estimated destruction of the virus is an answer to the prayers of thousands.

Today, California has made very substantial progress in our health care preparedness and the 58 counties are experiencing very different realities, depending upon their population density and demographics.  We believe that Counties, as the primary overseer of public health, are particularly well situated to provide health and safety guidelines for their residents.  We support the Governor and the County Officials in their appropriate and constitutionally governed roles.

At the same time, we honor and affirm the inalienable rights granted to all of us by our Creator and recognized in our founding documents here in the United States.  Further, we are clear that all citizens should have the freedom of assembly, the freedom of the press, and the freedom of religion guaranteed in our country.  People of faith are committed to our communities and seek to provide love, compassion, and kindness wherever they live, gather, and serve.  We believe the human need for community and worship is indeed essential in the human experience.  The care of souls is a fundamental joy in the human experience.  The federal government has recognized that clergy and churches are essential services, in alignment with our constitution.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has indeed brought many chilling realities, including the horrid loss of life, stress on our healthcare systems, and the economic and social disruptions caused by our stringent quarantine restrictions.  Many of these circumstances have been bracing, but perhaps none more so than the specter of people suffering and dying alone.  Funerals and Weddings, Births and Graduations, and public celebrations of all kinds are either deferred or experiencing in virtual isolation.  The effect of our health and economic decisions may, in time, be eclipsed by the spiritual and social impacts of our choices these last many weeks.

It is into this reality that we plead with the Governor and County officials to understand that churches and religious activities of clergy are essential services.  We trust spiritual leaders to be wise stewards of their faith communities and establish appropriate and health sensitive parameters for gatherings.  We believe churches in each county in California should be allowed to work with appropriate county authority to establish parameters for worship services, funerals, weddings, and a host of other important activities that build up the human spirit.  We recognize grocery stores as essential; we believe that the Bread of Life is fundamentally even more important.

Thank you Governor Newsom and State and County officials for hearing us.  We pray for you and pledge to work with you in the implementation of responsible guidelines for the essential religious observances which feed the human spirit as we engage in this war against an unseen but deadly enemy.

An Appeal for California Churches

April 28, 2020 SACRAMENTO — Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Dr. John Jackson, president of William Jessup University, release the following statement calling California leaders to allow churches in the state to begin opening their doors as places of worship, service, compassion and reflection:

We are mindful of our nation’s proud heritage of religious liberty, established from its founding as a place of refuge and respect for people of faith. Today, we join together respectfully urging California’s governor, county supervisors, mayors and other civic leaders to support the reopening of church gatherings in ways that are sensitive to public health concerns as well as providing for the fundamental freedoms so richly encouraging to personal and societal well-being and ensconced in our founding documents.

We want to work with our governmental leaders and are mindful of the importance of doing so with mutual respect in alignment with our convictions around Romans 13 and other appropriate biblical passages. We are grateful to our governmental leaders and have been in increased corporate and personal prayer for them throughout these days.

We understand that various counties in California have different circumstances and are mindful that state, county, and local guidance will provide varying public health frameworks that church leaders can utilize in addition to any national guidelines that are provided. We believe that churches can and will be responsible as members of our community utilizing the following guidelines here in California. We submit the following for your respectful consideration:

May: Suggest that churches utilize drive-in resources for the first part of May and minimize any public gatherings for the first 2 weekends, moving to 50% of building capacity the last two weeks of May. We advocate that churches consider, if they gather in auditoriums, expanding their sanitizing procedures and encouraging the wearing of masks where appropriate

June: We encourage churches to develop procedures to reconvene in public worship and classroom settings at the level of 75% of room capacities with all the appropriate sanitizing and public safety protocols as appropriate, deferring to state, county and local guidelines where necessary.

July: Restoration of 100% of building capacities, dependent upon public health guidelines provided leading up to this time period.The Scriptures tell us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV). A return to worship, teaching, shared service, compassion and generosity is in the heart of the people. We believe together that people of faith across the State of California will experience a rebirth of joy, hope and life with these measured and responsible steps in our state.Respectfully,

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President                
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference            Dr. John Jackson, President
William Jessup University—
Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which has been recognized by TIME magazine, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Charisma Magazine, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, Fox News and CNN as America’s largest and most influential Hispanic/Latino Christian organization with more than 40,000 certified member churches in the United States and chapters in Latin America. CNN and FOX News have called Rev. Rodriguez “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.Website | www.nhclc.org    Twitter | @nhclc

Dr. John Jackson: Since becoming President in 2011, Dr. Jackson has led William Jessup University to triple in size and become regionally and nationally ranked by US News & World Report and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Jackson is a dynamic strategic leader, and communicator and has authored six books on leadership and spiritual formation.  John earned both his Ph.D. and M.A. in Educational Administration and Organizational Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara; M.A. in Theology (Christian Formation and Discipleship) at Fuller Theological Seminary; and a B.A. in Religion (Christian History and Thought) from Chapman University. Websites | www.jessup.eduwww.drjohnjackson.com  Twitter | @drjohnjackson 

Presence Matters. Touch Matters. Connection Matters.

Presence Matters.  Touch Matters.  Connection Matters.

The presence of God changes everything.  Moses said he would not go anywhere without the presence of God and the Psalmist begged God not to remove him from His presence (Exodus 33:15, Psalm 51:11)

Touch matters.  Human beings were made for contact, for connection, for community.  And yes, we were made for causes.

I’m thankful for the marvels of technology and how many people have been able to engage with a worship service and receive encouragement and grace during this time.   I am also convinced it is an inferior substitute for the people of God gathering safely in a physical space to encounter the One who made us and participate in corporate worship and teaching.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has stretched the resources of the world and its public healthcare systems, governments, economies, scientists, families, educators, and faith structures beyond what has been experienced for at least 100 years.  Much of the debate that has begun is being conducted in the midst of grieving and human tragedy.  Loss of life, normalcy, experiences, and hope for the future all appear to be ours with increased regularity.

But, presence matters.  Touch matters.  Our ability to see, touch, and connect with others is not only a visceral matter but a matter of great social consequence.  I am concerned for the spiritual, social, economic, and generational impact of our times.  I find much of the data to be frustrating. Clearly the models that incorporated social distancing were vastly overreaching.  It seems increasingly clear that many more people (by a factor of 10-20-50-80 times) have actually been infected and recovered than is now statistically known.  Clearly the Coronavirus is more contagious than the seasonal flu, but may not be deadlier.  All the same, the lives that have been lost and the way the globe has responded to this pandemic may have effects long beyond the presence of the physical disease.

So, as I write in CA today, all the data appears to point to the fact that we have been almost miraculously spared from the worst projections.  Yes, I recognize there are fears of a more virulent resurgence in the Fall/Winter of 2020/2021.  But, I am deeply concerned for the spiritual, social and mental health consequences of our lockdown procedures.  I strongly believe we have to get people back to gathering in community, back to work, and undergirding our health care and manufacturing systems.

I wrote some time ago that I believed that 4 words would define this time:  Reveal-Reset-Reentry-Revival (or Reformation).  Today, I remain convinced that part of what has been revealed is that we are increasingly vulnerable in our health care and manufacturing systems.  We also know how much the presence of God, our connection with one another, and the importance of shared experiences are for our culture and our future.  So, I’ll be joining with others soon to share a plan to restore worship gatherings and remain sensitive to public health concerns.  We can and must protect individual and corporate freedoms while we fight this disease.  Presence matters.  Touch matters.

Timely Words for Leaders: Reveal, Reset, Reentry, Revival

Full disclosure here.  Ever since the COVID-19 crisis has been brewing, I have been praying not just to “flatten the curve” but for the Strong Name of Jesus to #breakthecurve.  I believe the curve and the coronavirus will be defeated and that this is the Church and Christian ministries finest hour.  And, that also has a specific application for Christ centered higher education.  I have been “living” in Psalm 91, Matthew 6:33, Ephesians 6:10-20, and John 10:10 from the beginning of March, 2020.

It is true that we are in the middle of a storm.  But, living in the midst of a storm is not how we plan and conduct our lives.  Living in the storm means that we also recognize that there is a life after the storm.  Leaders traffic in hope.  Because of that, the words we say and the visions we project are magnified during a crisis.  While we all are grappling with the very real circumstances of a storm of death and disease, I also believe God is calling Christian leaders to boldly shape our churches and institutions for His glory so that both IN the storm and AFTER the storm, we are demonstrating the power of life in Christ to a world watching and desperately needing Him.

I think at least 4 major things, captured by 4 words, are happening in our nation right now in the midst of the crisis that provide a real opportunity for growth and learning.  Those “4 Timely Words” matter now more than ever.

REVEALED.  God is in the revealing business.  I am not saying that He caused the coronavirus.  I am saying that He is using COVID-19 to experience, in real time, the realities of our families, our churches, our organizations, our economies, and our nations and world.  What is God teaching you and your teams right now.  What is being revealed now that you did not know or listen to just 3 short months ago?  What an opportunity we have!  That leads us to word #2.

RESET.  In light of what we are experiencing, every business is a start-up now.  Every family gets a “do-over”.  Every organization, church, government gets a “real time” tape of its relative strengths and weaknesses.  We are in a storm, no doubt.  But, we do not plan the rest of our lives based on living in a storm.  What are we learning now that simply must be reset in the future? 

What will you personally, and what will your school organizationally RESET in the days ahead?  I’ll write more on this later, but from the beginning I had our teams begin to think in 14 day/60 day/long term categories.  We already have had many things revealed that we want to change and we want to reset them in the future, but to be frank we still are grappling with many unknowns.  But, I know there are more to come.  I am trying to be ready.  Which leads me to word #3.

REENTRY.  My friend Kris gave me this word.  He is a great teacher and leader and as soon as he said it, I knew it was true!  As I write this, I have no idea how long we will be in the storm of this crisis or how great the storm damage will be.  But what I do know is this:  We have seen the future in glimpses and have no idea what it will actually look like.  There, I said it.  There are no guarantees about today, tomorrow, or next week or month (and there never have been!).   And now, to word #4

REVIVAL.  I have longed for days of revival to return to America and the world.  I’m convinced that the Father longs to have us, His children, running to His arms.  I’m convinced that having no other option but Him is a good thing. I’ve been reminding our campus community that we partner with the Father, not with fear.  Could it be that a great spiritual awakening would come to the church in this, a storm filled hour?  I say YES!  I believe that unlike 911, when church attendance across the country returned to “normal” a short time after the event, this time it could be different.  What will that take?  I think it takes us being willing to hear what God is saying in the midst of all this.  Are we willing to humble ourselves before Him, repent of our wicked ways, and call out to Him? 

I know we are in a storm.  But, I know who calms the storm.  I do NOT know the future of Christ centered higher education in terms of the various forms of it.  But what I DO know is the ONE who holds the future, holds our institutions, and holds us as leaders.  These are our greatest days and your institution needs you to lead with clarity, hope, joy, love, compassion and wisdom IN and AFTER the storm has passed.  Lead well!

Easter 2020: We are people on the Other Side of the Tomb

Holy Week that first century must have seemed like just another week under Roman occupation.  Yet another insurrectionist had been tried and crucified at Roman hands; this one at the urging of the Jewish religious leaders.  Everything, even in the midst of pain and loss, must have seemed normal. Even the body laying in the tomb must have seemed tragic, common, and normal.

This is an unusual Holy week.  Everyone in our world, nation, and state knows that everything is not normal.  Everything is different today. COVID-19 has literally ground the gears of our economy to a halt.  It would be easy to live in pain, despair, and sorrow during Easter 2020.

But God!!!  Today, we live on the other side of the tomb!  We know that Jesus did not stay in the tomb, He rose from the dead.  Around the world in just over 3 short days, people will say to one another, CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!  

For Jesus followers, this is our time; we were made for this moment!  We are moving together in hope! This Sunday, I urge you to celebrate His goodness and the fulfillment of His promise.  Jesus died, was buried, and rose again for YOU. Sin is defeated, hope rises from despair and life comes from death. Have a glorious Easter 2020!  

I pray that you fully enter into His rest and His promises this weekend.  We are experiencing so much of God’s favor and I am clear that it is in part because of how you are serving together in Him.  We live on the other side of the tomb…and He is giving us His power every day through His Spirit. Join me in embracing the future that is now here!

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