Thursday, December 12, 2013

Progress and Christmas Blessings

It's a busy campus now. Students are plowing through final exams, papers, and projects. Professors are rushing to complete grading so that our seniors can walk across the Belcher stage and graduate Saturday morning. Our university leadership team is busy trying to complete planning for several different initiatives to be implemented in the coming year.

Dean Kimberly Quiett and Linda Musser have been busy with submitting our new program paperwork to the Texas Board of Nursing (that's 800 pages of paperwork!) Dan Fiedler and a host of others are quite busy as the Allen Student Center construction nears completion, with 60,000 square feet of floor space and more than 27 miles of IT wiring! (See a sneak peek video of the Allen Center) The men's and women's basketball teams are moving quickly through their schedules (and playing well). Just observing all these moving parts makes my head spin.

That's why I needed last night. Marsha and I are blessed with a four-year-old granddaughter, Linley. She really enjoys playing with her own nativity set, and so I spent an hour on the floor with her as she taught me the Christmas story anew. 

There were actors and plots that Linley has added to the story. Somehow Elmo and Big Bird are present at the manger for the blessed birth. Several Disney Princesses join the Wise Men from afar to bring gifts. Great fun! 

A four-year-old can add unique twists to the Christmas story, but she can also remind you of the joyous truth: a baby came to us, and now it is our time to come to the baby - with praise, adoration, wonder, and gifts. We can make it so complicated but it really is all about that baby.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Celebrating Leadership

Dr. Dale Lunsford with Ben LeTourneau, R.G. LeTourneau's son
Leadership has been on my mind this week.

Monday we marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of our founder with a special chapel and grave site ceremony. This week we also learned of the passing of Hazel Hickey, a dear friend to LeTourneau University and a leader in our community. Today, I had the privilege of giving the keynote message at the Emerging Leaders Award ceremony in Longview where "under age 40" emerging leaders were recognized.

Leadership comes in all generations and genders.

RG LeTourneau led with a passion for progress, a loud, booming voice and commanding presence. Hazel Hickey was considerate and soft-spoken but consistently effective in settings most often dominated by men in leadership roles. The three emerging leaders recognized today (Kristen Ishihara, Melanie Northcutt Crocker and Stephanie Wolford) are each unique but all influential in their spheres of influence. You can read more about them in the Longview News-Journal.

A 125th birthday website has been created to honor our founder on his 125th birthday. You can see Monday's chapel and also a number of short videos that have been produced to honor Mr. LeTourneau's legacy in technology and in ministry. On the website, you can see a video about LETU alumnus Bob Walker who is living out the LeTourneau legacy every day in his Walker Manufacturing in Fort Collins, Colo.

Fred Smith wrote about the importance of having heroes. "We cannot fully live without heroes.  A society writes its diary by naming its heroes. We individuals do the same." 

Both RG LeTourneau and Hazel Hickey are heroes of mine.  They lived full lives, made themselves available for leadership and honored God in the difference they made. They might have been very different in personality but they were alike in persistence. As we are taught in Philippians 3, "pressing on toward the goal" is a characteristic all leaders share.