Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spiritual Development: A Community Endeavor

"Many people are rejecting our gospel today, not because they perceive it to be false, but because they perceive it to be trivial." The late John Stott's observation really challenges me. I shared it in our first chapel service of the Spring 2012 term yesterday.

We can inadvertently "trivialize" the gospel when we see our spiritual growth as a purely personal experience. When we talk about growing spiritually as a personal discipline much like we would describe attending yoga class or learning a foreign language, it will seem trivial to those around us. It seems to me that we must think about spiritual development as a community endeavor. The gospel is relevant not because it changes me personally, but because it has the power to change you; it has the power to "make all things new."

Our university strategic plan emphasizes the spiritual development of our students. Spiritual growth happens when students commit to grow with each other, when faculty commit to disciple students, when faculty and staff seek to grow together.

Bill Kielhorn certainly understood the power of growing together in a Christian community. He invested 45 years in the lives of our students. I've had more than one alumnus tell me that Bill was "just like a father to me." There was nothing trivial about the way Bill lived a life of faith and learning. He never missed a class and he gave God the glory every opportunity he had. He understood that a LeTourneau education is about information and formation -- the equipping for professional competence and the development of Christ-like character. As we celebrate his legacy this week and mourn with his wife, Betty, I understand better the opportunity we have to make an eternal difference here at LETU.