Lessons I’ve Learned in the Chair

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Today is my last day as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Oral Roberts University. It has been an incredibly enriching experience. I can honestly say the Chair has given me more than I have given it in the life and leadership lessons it has provided.

I’m finishing 9 years of service, 6 as a trustee and 3 as the Chair. Make no mistake, serving on the Board of a ministry or Christian University is service. It comes with no pay. In fact, it should cost you something as a donor. Being the Chair requires a lot of time – if you have an effective and engaged Board. It should stretch you mentally, spiritually, and professionally as you deal with difficult decisions as the final authority, in a setting where only the most challenging issues reach the boardroom.

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So, why do it? Well, first it needs to be a calling. You need to make sure that this is what God, your family, and your vocation (in my case, the OneHope Board) want you to do. You will need their full support and backing. I’m grateful to Kim and the leadership at OneHope for ‘serving’ with me these last 9 years.

Several times I’ve been asked why this experience was enriching and what I’ve learned. It’s impossible for me to fully answer those questions in this short blog. The bottom line is that the complex and multifaceted issues the Board faced during my time have sharpened my intellect, matured my leadership, and taught me to rely on the Lord like never before.

I believe there are three postures you can have towards the Chair. You can stand on it, sit in it, or kneel before it.

Interior Image copy 3@72xSometimes, it’s necessary to stand on the power and authority of the Chair to PROCLAIM. To speak forcefully, not your own message or agenda, but to maintain the mission and vision of the institution, which is the primary calling of the Board and to ensure that it happens with economic vitality.

Interior Image copy 2@72xTo sit in the chair and UNIFY. A good Board, and ORU has one of the best, is filled with diversity and multiple perspectives because they represent a broad panorama of the institution’s constituents. The Chair is not there to take sides or argue on behalf of his or her agenda, but to listen and ensure collaborative discourse for the Body to come to a decision of consensus.

Interior Image copy 4@72xLastly, and most importantly and most often over these last years, to come with bended knee before the Chair in SERVICE. If there is one verse that captures what I have learned from this position it is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (NKJV)

The Chair will humble you, if you let it. That is the highest and hardest form of leadership development. Micah 6:8 has been a close companion for my time in this amazing office: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)

I hope I have.  

Thank you, Oral Roberts University, for all you’ve given me. I hope I have done nothing to harm you. I pray that God will continue to shine on you and that the Spirit will continue to breathe on you as you fulfill your mission: To build Holy Spirit-empowered leaders through whole person education to impact the world with God’s healing.

I feel more empowered, more whole, and more prepared to impact the world because of my service to you. This is the beauty of Biblical service: no matter how much you give, it returns so much more.

I challenge everyone of you. GO SERVE…

Note:  Additionally, I would like to thank the following people. My predecessor, Mart Green, whose keen intellect and selflessness was the foundation for everything I did. My successor, Dr. Mike Rakes, who will bring his gifts of prayerfulness and prophesy to help ORU reach new heights. My Board coach, Dr. Robert Cooley, simply the wisest man I know. Marian Baumgardner, the Board Secretary, for always making me look better than I was. Finally, to Dr. Billy Wilson, the leader who deserves any credit given me during my tenure. You have worked tirelessly and have personified leading a University “built on the Holy Spirit” as Oral Roberts declared, by being a person whole-heartedly built on the Holy Spirit.