Written byDr Rob BlackabyPresident
Monday, July 13, 2009
Training Leaders for Tough Places
What will it take to train God-called men and women for twenty-first century leadership in tough places? I believe that is the right question for us to asking, and prayerfully answering. It is surely not our mandate at this school to graduate merely eloquent, professional clergy. We are not trying to figure out cleverly what will “work” to keep a crowd and remain popular. It is our sacred responsibility and trust to train as many leaders as God would give us who will be able to efficiently and effectively train generations of spiritual leaders across Canada and around the world. It is incumbent upon us to implore God to shape the student body of our school to be people who courageously, joyously, unreservedly love God, love His Word, and love His people. I want our school to be notorious for training this generation of men and women to be faithful leaders who are willing to risk all for the sake of Christ.
In addition to the challenge of training leaders in 2008, we faced a second challenge. We are operating a pioneer-based school in an economic environment unlike anything we have encountered in our twenty-one-year history. Like so many other churches and ministries, we feel the severity of the global economic crisis that continues to sweep through North America
This past fall we faced the almost certain prospect of ending the year in excess of $400,000.00 in debt. As news of our financial position spread across our campus community during the first week of November, our students initiated a spontaneous and prolonged prayer vigil. We were confronted afresh with the desperation and dependence on God that is often a direct, inescapable, and necessary result of ministering in tough places. Dr. Frankie Rainey, Professor of Biblical Studies and Campus Pastor, charged us to remember, “Training men and women to serve in hard places means modeling what it looks like to cry out to God in time of need.”
Students, faculty, and staff noted similar themes emerging as we processed what we understood God to be saying to members of our seminary/college community. Students prayed: “Sift us like wheat! Purify us!”; “Don’t let us become content with mediocrity!”; “It’s not about money. It is about our hearts.”; “There may be pride in our thinking we can do it ourselves or that it depends on our talents and abilities.”; “God is calling us into a deeper intimacy with Himself.”; “This is an opportunity for God to glorify Himself.” While little changed in our financial position in November, by the end of December God chose to bring Himself glory by meeting all of our needs through various gifts ranging from $20.00 to $200,000.00.
Training leaders for tough places requires that we ourselves live in “the hill country.”
(Joshua 14:12). We are beginning 2009 with a refreshed zeal to effectively equip students whose cry is genuinely, “Give me the hill country!” The churches of the Canadian National Baptist Convention, along with convention national staff, led by Gerry Taillon, encourage us through the intensity of their sacrificial partnerships with us. Donors throughout North America, whether individual or church, have given selflessly of their time and resources to ensure we fulfill the purpose of this school. These are humbling days in which to live. These are days we will recount with our children, and their children. These are days during which God is teaching us new lessons about what it means to be a leader fit for service in Canada and around the world.