Cancer Can’t Keep You Down: Presiding Thoughts about My President

Cancer Can’t Keep You Down: Presiding Thoughts about My President October 31, 2013

Note: Today I had the opportunity to give this address on behalf of the Faculty during a special chapel in honor of Dr. Daniel Lockwood on his last day as President of Multnomah University, where I teach.

Just the other day, someone asked me concerning US Presidents: Can one respect the office without respecting the person? President Harry Truman told General Douglas Macarthur when Macarthur walked in 45 minutes late for their meeting on Wake Island in the Pacific that he did not care what he thought of the person Harry Truman, but that he would never again disrespect his Commander in Chief. Fortunately and providentially for us, we don’t have to worry about respecting the office or position and not the person. We were exhorted this morning to be on time for this chapel in honor of Dr. Lockwood, not simply because of his position, but also because of his person.

Dr. Lockwood, we will miss you dearly. In the few moments granted me on behalf of the faculty, I want to share with you some of the reasons why we will miss you so.

Your Christ-centered confidence.  You announced a few weeks ago your resignation from the office of President at Multnomah University because the cancer you have battled for nine years will soon take you home. While we were not surprised by your confidence in Christ, we were blessed by how you took that opportunity to encourage us all to have confidence that our triune God providentially cares for each one of us. We can trust in him. You have been unswerving in this confidence over the years. May that same confidence in Christ permeate each of our lives and our institution in the coming months and years.

Your courage. Just as you have battled cancer, you have battled challenging times in Christian higher education, as you have led the way in seeking to transition Multnomah University on how to provide biblical education that serves various needs educationally in a host of disciplines to equip a new generation of Christian leaders for the church, academy, and marketplace here and abroad. As with your cancer, this has not been an easy challenge. But you have been willing to face the complexities and the obstacles head on in order to help us serve the church and society in a Christ-honoring way.

Your biblical conviction. In keeping with your unswerving commitment to Christ, you have been unswerving in your commitment to Christian Scripture. Your biblical conviction is not something we shall ever take for granted, but seek to cherish as we diversify our curriculum, integrating our biblical faith with robust learning in a multiplicity of disciplines for the sake of our mission to impact the church and the world in our day through our graduates.

Your compassion. I have been moved on many occasions by your support to take that Christ-centered confidence and biblical conviction to our society. You have supported your faculty to be unswerving in our biblical commitments while at the same time reaching out to engage relationally an increasingly diverse culture that has so often found in Evangelical Christianity rejection rather than love.  You have wedded biblical truth with Christ’s incarnate love. Not only have you supported us in seeking to wed truth and gracious love, but you and Mrs. Lockwood have modeled it to us in a variety of ways over the years. Here, let me speak personally. A few years ago, when my wife and I were facing one of the gravest challenges of our lives, you and Mrs. Lockwood reached out to us and our children one Christmas season and showered us with so much compassion. Your personal touch as the persons that you are only adds exponentially to my respect for you as you have filled the office of the President. I will miss you greatly. I know that you have showed the same care toward others in our midst. Your cancer won’t keep you down. We take you with us in our hearts.

Cancer won’t keep you down at the resurrection of the dead. Cancer can’t keep you down in our lives as we move forward. We take you and these qualities with us as we move into the future as individuals and as an institution.

This piece is cross-posted at The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and at The Christian Post.

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