You work in a place, but you might not know the mission of the place where you work. Most have mission statements, but those generally are trumpeted on placards and websites, but languish unheeded in decision making meetings. Good mission statements in theory do not matter if ignored in practice.
But if you work in a place and know the mission, see it guiding decision making and funding, and believe in that mission, then dedication will cover a multitude of mistakes the organization might make. I have never seen a team fail that put the right people in charge of the right mission with the power to get the job done.
Much of the blame for failure to heed the mission or praise for doing so falls on the leader of the organization. If a leader has one job, then that job is to crystalize the mission and pass it on to the rest of the folks. People will do what it takes for a noble cause, that cannot be bought for money or position.
How can you tell what matters to your leader? You must watch his or her life over time and this is a very good reason to avoid hasty promotion: a youngling might think she wants something, but her life has not yet integrated her desires with her actions. In a crisis, the leader will go to basic beliefs and if those do not match what the organization says, then the what the organizations says does not matter, it will be led in a different direction. Do the core motivations, the emphasis of the leader’s life, match the vision of the organization? A leader must, as Socrates urges, “know himself” and know what he really thinks in order to match his aspirations to the right organization.
Recently, my boss, President Robert Sloan of HBU, gave a sermon that summarized “his big picture.” I have seen his work over the years, before I came here and for the last two years. This is a man, to the extent any man does, who “knows himself.” His mature vision guides our University (under our Board and the Ten Pillars vision) and it is a godly vision that if adopted will be keep us from perishing.
We are called to follow Christ, but godly leaders can teach us how best to do it. If a college is looking for a higher education than they have offered before now, then look for a leader that emphasizes these five areas.
First, the godly leader will believe Scripture is indispensable and authoritative for Christian living and thinking. The godly leader is transformed by an authority outside of himself before leading us to a cause greater than himself. The godly leader knows this: he does not need self-esteem or building up, but redemption.
Second, the godly leader knows that Scripture is a long story, unified with complexity. God is the center of the story and His creation was marred by human sin. We lost our jobs as “gentle care keepers of the created order” and found ourselves in need of salvation. From Abraham, through Israel, in the line of King David there came one faithful Israelite: Jesus Christ. And now we are at the end of the long story, in the last days, where soon creation and humanity will be set free and glorified. While no utopia is possible this side of the City of God, the City of God is surely coming and we can be subjects of King Jesus in that City. If a man is a Christian, then he is being healed to tell the story, to share from his hospital bed the good news that Paradise is coming.
This Church unites us. In submission to Christ, there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or freeman. We are called to bless all the nations of the Earth and invite them to a great feast.
I serve in a place that is sure that: The Work of the Spirit, the life giving Spirit, is present wherever the Gospel is preached. This Gospel is the “power of God” and is present wherever the Gospel is preached. We need not fear the Spirit, despite the excesses of some in His Name, because He always brings us to the more excellent way: the Way of Love. The focus will never be on our giftedness, even when the good gift is from God, but on Love.
My boss knows that to be Christian: We must be a people of Love. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor, hatred subverts the plan of God. “We must love, we must forgive one another,” Sloan explains. This love conquers even memory, which can be the enemy of forgiveness. We do not ignore injustice, we rebuke it, but also are not captivated by memories of that injustice. We must not be angry or bitter and live in forgiveness. Active love is often seen in hospitality, sharing a meal together, as a foretaste of the great meal in the City of God: a party without end. Maranatha!
President Sloan sums up our calling by citing I Thessalonians 3: 11: 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you.12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
And so I know where we are going as a University and what we are called to do. My job is to apply, God helping me. Now ask yourself if you wish to become part of such a team? Perhaps you belong at HBU. More likely, you can adopt this vision, this Gospel calling, to your own situation.
Try watching the whole message here.