Thursday, August 30, 2012

Labor Day: Focusing on Work as Worship

Closing the gap between Sunday worship and Monday work is central to the mission of our Center for Faith and Work at LeTourneau University. Our goal is to help churches, small groups and individuals develop a biblical perspective on work. It is a vital part of our vision to reflect Jesus Christ in every workplace in every nation.

Our work matters to God. It's as simple as that.

Research shows that 93 percent of pastors say they want to help members of their congregations integrate their faith and work, but most of them realize they are not doing a good job of it.

Our executive director, Bill Peel, has done a commendable job of providing resources for churches and individuals to use to focus on work as worship for this coming Labor Day Sunday, in cooperation with The High Calling.

The Labor Day Sunday website provides free resources for churches to celebrate the gift of work. It provides video resources and sermon outlines for pastors on making Mondays meaningful, managing workplace anxiety, integrating faith and work in ways that can result in eternal value. These important messages deal with ways we can glorify God and serve others through our work and how our work is significant economically, morally, socially, relationally and even evangelistically.

These resources are available at the website here.

I hope you will take a few moments to personally visit the website and share it with the pastors at your churches. If you do, I believe you will be refreshed and blessed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Taking Inventory

Monday's State of the University address truly brought closure to my first five years as president here at LeTourneau University.

I'm generally not good at stopping and taking inventory of life's events, but preparing my report this year forced me to do so.

From my first few months living on campus in apartment 17-B to the last few months I've spent on the road telling friends about our student center construction project, this past five years has been quite an exciting time for me professionally and personally.

When I review what we have accomplished, I see campus enhancements that have made an impact on student life here, like the Corner Café, the Abbott Center, South Hall and our new 60,000-square-foot Student Center on which we will soon break ground.

We also have launched our new Center for Faith and Work and our new Center for Global Service Learning, both of which are expanding LETU's reach into the world.  Our endowed scholarships have doubled.  Soon we are launching the public phase of our largest comprehensive fundraising campaign to date.

I am proud to be leading the LeTourneau Nation to embrace our unique calling to claim every workplace in every nation for Jesus Christ.

Pausing to take inventory and report to you on our progress toward our strategic vision was helpful and encouraging, but my greatest encouragement came afterward, when a friend sent me a reminder of the truth from 1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV):
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Whether I count a day's work as gain or loss toward our strategic goals, whether I consider my first five years a success or not, the truth of our faith is that no labor in the Lord is in vain. Each day with Him and for Him is a day of gain.

The full text of Monday's State of the University address is available here

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Sacred Work of Education

Over the years as a business school professor, I have come to respect Walmart and especially the story of founder Sam Walton (a native Oklahoman like me). But here's an admission: I really don't like to shop there! Too many people and too many lines I suppose.

This may be the only time of year I like to go to Walmart. Why? I like to look at the back-to-school supplies! I still get a kick out of browsing through new pencils, crayons, notebooks, and Pink Pearl erasers. I like to think about young children heading back to school with new backpacks and big hopes; and refreshed teachers returning to begin their good work in a great ministry  the classroom. In my opinion, education is a sacred work.

Just two weeks from today, on Aug. 23, we will welcome a new class of incoming freshman students to campus. Dr. Steve Condon and the Enrollment Services team are finishing work on what will be a very impressive new class. And our Office of Global Initiatives, under the direction of Dr. Robert Hudson, has recruited a record number of new international students to campus this fall. I know you will all be intentional about welcoming these new students from near and abroad, with broad smiles and genuine hospitality for which we are known at LeTourneau University.

This summer marked the completion of my fifth year as president. During my recent vacation with Marsha, I had some quiet time to reflect on the initiatives we have accomplished during this past five years, and where I feel God is leading us for the next foreseeable future. I look forward to sharing with you more about those reflections at my State of the University address in the Belcher Center on Monday, Aug. 20.

That address each year brings the entire LeTourneau Nation together. It is a special "family time" for us to greet some of our friends from other educational sites, to meet some of our new faces, and to kick off the new semester with a picnic lunch and stories of our summer adventures.

I pray that you feel as I do that we are blessed to be doing this sacred work of education, using the knowledge, skills and passion God has given each of us, to equip a new generation of graduates who will see their life's work as a holy calling and who will reflect Christ in every workplace in every nation.