This article was written by Dr. Stan Norman, President of Williams Baptist University
In recent days, I have adopted a phrase that describes the kinds of people I believe best embody the Williams Baptist University (WBU) mission. I believe our mission is to prepare men and women to be followers of Christ, disciples who have lives of Gospel purpose and Gospel influence. The Bible reveals to us numerous examples of God raising up people like this. Of course, the most obvious and the perfect example of this is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He reveals to us what a life of purpose looks like. He is the perfect expression of someone who confronts and overcomes the tribulations and troubles of living in a fallen, sinful world.
And, to this point, we find revealed in the Bible the traits and ideals that God creates and cultivates in Christ’s followers. Whether we look at the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew, the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians, or other places in Scripture, God has made His purposes clear on what kind of people He saves us to be and the way we are to live as “salt and light” in a decaying, dark world.
As I continue to learn the WBU story, I have discovered numerous examples of men and women who have throughout our history embodied these biblical traits. These people include students, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of the school – individuals who, at least to me, demonstrate what these biblical traits can look like when expressed through the lives of common, everyday people.
Our mission is to prepare the people of the WBU community to engage our world – in spite of and because of – the trials, challenges, hardships, and troubles that regularly confront us. I have seen these traits reflected over and over in the lives of the men and women who have been shaped by our mission, and I have been looking for a way to communicate these ideals in an understandable way.
I have decided to express these biblical ideals with the phrase “The Williams Way.” And while The Williams Way has many expressions, I have identified five primary traits that capture our mission. I believe these traits are essential for all of us to engage the challenges, trials, and issues that have confronted and will continue to confront us.
Christ-Centered Purpose – “A Campus of Christian Purpose”
First and foremost, The Williams Way means that we are unashamedly and unapologetically committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. This means that all we do – the way we teach and what we teach; the way we coach and what we coach; the way we learn, practice, perform, study, live, serve, and so on, are shaped by and lived in submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. We attempt to instill the reality of Christ’s lordship in all aspects of who we are and what we do.
A favorite designation of our founder, Dr. H. E. Williams (ca. 1956), that resonates deeply with me, both in the way it is articulated and the meaning implicit in the phrase, is the designation of WBU as a “Campus of Christian Purpose.” I believe this phrase was one of the ways Dr. Williams used to describe WBU existing under the lordship of Christ. Our mission is to equip our students to live in submission to the lordship of Christ, and one way of doing this is to have a Christ-centered worldview.
A Campus of Christian Purpose, means that we are not a university like any other university with “value added” programs, such as chapel, prayer groups, mission trips, and so on (and we do have those programs!). Dr. Williams used the phrase “Campus of Christian Purpose,” and the way I use it, to mean that we are a distinctively different type of university. We are not like other institutions of higher education. We do not try to be like them, and we do not look to them as a model for us. We look to Christ and His lordship to define who we are and what we do.
A Campus of Christian Purpose means that our university’s core identity and mission are unapologetically and unashamedly Christ-centered. This is our DNA. The first core value of the WBU states this conviction this way:
The foundation of Williams Baptist University is the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9-10), the Incarnate Son and Word of God, and the Divine Creator and Savior of the world. We aspire to be a Christ-centered institution of higher education in character, conduct, and academic pursuits. This aspiration calls for faculty, staff, and students to integrate the Christian faith in all aspects of the University. The lordship of Christ is the center of all things related to the University (Colossians 1:15-20) and is the basis from which we form our Christian worldview. We believe this biblical commitment is essential for the preparation of students to engage local and global cultures.
Our identity, and thus our mission, is Christ-centered. This conviction defines our vision “to produce exceptional graduates prepared to competently engage local and global cultures through a Christ-centered worldview.” The Williams Way means that WBU exists to be used by the Holy Spirit to compassionately shape our students into the image of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29), to teach and mold our students into followers of Jesus who are disciples with a Christ-centered identity and a Christ-centered mission. A Campus of Christian Purpose means we have a biblically-grounded, Gospel-driven mission that God uses to powerfully transform our students (and any others!) who embrace our mission.
The Williams Way is a way of saying that Williams Baptist University is a Campus of Christian Purpose. We exist to equip students to be men and women whose identity and purpose are embedded in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is who we are, and this is what we do. If we are to fulfill our mission to be this type of university, this must be the foundation for everything else.