On Tuesday, the board of trustees of Howard Payne University named Dr. Bill Ellis, the provost of Hardin Simmons University, the 19th president in the storied history of this great Baptist school in the heart of Texas. Howard Payne like most small private Christian colleges and universities faces the future with its hope deeply rooted in the Lord. Dr. Ellis will assume the post of leadership in a day when change is the norm, and the challenges are great.
As the board of HPU wrestled with this monumental decision, there were a number of quality candidates that were considered. The board struggled to come to grips with who God had uniquely chosen for this hour. As a member of the board, the simple truth I will take away from the deliberations, discussions, and the process of making a decision is that when people put the health and vitality of the institution above their own personal agendas and aspirations good hard decisions can be made with unity of purpose in the midst of diversity of thought.
In many ways this process was a microcosm of what is good and best about the Baptist way. Strong perspectives can be presented passionately. Differences can be held with grace. At the end of the day a band of priests under God can make a decision and trust it to be the will of the LORD through the free, willful actions of men and women.
Today I was reminded of the words of Paul:
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Eph 4:15-16 (NIV)
In a day when so many are gifted at finding ways of walking independently and going it alone, the Kingdom of God flourishes among us when we “speak the truth in love” and know deep inside Jesus holds us together as “one body” bound together in love.
Pray for Dr. Ellis and his wife Diana as they begin this adventure of faith thrust before them. Pray the Lord will give them the courage of David, the wisdom and discernment of Solomon, the passion of Paul, the boldness of Peter, and the Spirit of our LORD.