With nearly 400 full time faculty and staff, now spread out over 6 physical campuses, plus our online campus, there is only one time each year when we all get together.
I only have one time each year to share with all our focus for the year, and emphasize the core of our God-honoring mission that drives us together.
I just posted online my 16th message from these “Kick-Off” events, which we now call our Service of Dedication. (And during the service received a clock to commemorate completing 15 years as president.)
Each of these messages are based on a verse of the year – a text that is especially applicable as I see where the Lord is leading the school in the year ahead.
From my perspective, during these 16 years, there have been three of these messages that have been most important (although last years would be a close 4th in my ranking):
1996 – My first message to the campus set the tone for our future together.
2003 – I introduced a new planning model to the campus based on the metaphor of becoming sailboats to catch the wind of God, rather than powerboats who go where we assume God wants us to go, but operate ignoring the wind.
2010 – I’ve outlined our mission in a fresh way, as the Lord has developed us as a University of 3,500 students.
If you’d like to listen, read, or download the message, you can find it HERE.
But here is the core ideas in summary:
What distinguishes Belhaven University from all the other 4,168 schools in America is our commitment to: “purposeful stewardship.”
It comes down to this idea – we have a drive and culture ingrained in Belhaven that seeks to get the best out of everything that God has given to us. We are purposefully good stewards of whatever the Lord entrusts to us.
1. We have a calling to the stewardship of teaching an unchanging biblical worldview.
We are unwavering in the major issues of our Christian faith, and couple that solid biblical commitment with grace to be accepting of a variety of perspectives the minor issues of faith. We together all of God’s people across the evangelical spectrum of the Church.
- The uniqueness of Christ as the only way to the Father
- The justification by faith alone
- The authority and inerrancy of scripture
- The transforming power of the Holy Spirit
- The reality of eternal life to come.
Like the pillars that symbolize Belhaven near our fountain, these timeless pillars of what it means to be a follower of Jesus are unmovable at the center of our campus.
2. We have a calling to the stewardship of valuing every student.
We take every student – just where they are – and we invest in them to help get the most out of them. We don’t just try to push students through a pre-designed program that makes it easy for us. Instead, we try to work with each one as a unique person whom God designed with special gifts, drive, and purpose.
We are convinced that every student at Belhaven University came here because God hand-picked them to come here. And because they are a gift to us from God, we must be purposeful stewards of every single one of them.
3. We have a calling to the stewardship of honoring God-given opportunities.
Our planning is built around waiting for God’s wind to blow, rather than traditional destination planning that attempts to predict where God wants us to go in the future. Yes, we plan, but we do it locally, as close to every academic department, office, team, and function as possible – in order to be purposeful stewards of what God has already given us.
We do stewardship planning, instead of predicting a future in destination planning that wastefully consumes most schools, attempting to predict future outcomes that are often far beyond their control.