During a recent discussion with the parents of a prospective student, I was asked about the qualities that make Southwest Baptist University distinctively different. While, this inquiry is not unlike many other encounters I have had with visiting families and their future scholars, I was confident that my response was probably going to be one of the determining factors in their decision making analysis. The certainty I felt regarding my answer was the result of a short but intense encounter where I felt the presence and pleasure of God. As I recall my response to those questions today, I am flushed with the knowledge that God has a unique role for me at this university.
So, what makes Southwest Baptist University distinctively different? Many private universities claim to present a Biblical worldview. Southwest Baptist University fulfills that claim and additionally offers to its students the opportunity to establish a relationship with the faculty and staff that is based upon the love of Jesus Christ. This university has truly created a community that is “Christ-centered,” “caring,” and unabashedly “academic.” Having spent nearly fifteen years of my nearly twenty years in higher education at public universities, I bring a perspective that is framed by a lack of freedom in spiritual matters. At this university, I have found a committed group of Christians who are engaged in the spiritual lives of the students they encounter. On this day, I was pleased to have been able to communicate this special quality to the family in my office.
But more than that, this university has taken a leadership role in preparing students to become “servant leaders” once they venture off-campus. I am proud to be associated with an institution of higher education that prepares its students to be global ambassadors in this regard. I challenged the family I was talking to that day to identify another university that provided both the scope and depth of opportunities to impact this country and the world as ministers of the good-news gospel of Jesus Christ. Because I have been travelling to Siberia for the last four years with our students I am acutely aware of how Southwest Baptist University fulfills this mission goal. Ultimately I discovered that my pride in this university is based on equal parts of the final product we help produce at graduation and about glorifying God as we prepare our students for life. At the conclusion of our discussion that day, I privately thanked God for the opportunity to respond to such direct questions about my employer. I am certain that the encounter that day was as much about me identifying my role at this university as helping a family decide where to send their daughter to college.