An ongoing issue for schools like Williams Baptist University revolves around defining our purpose – why do schools like ours exist? Many Christian colleges and universities fall into the trap of attempting to replicate the mission of secular institutions of higher education. These schools find the larger platforms, programs, and government resources and funding appealing. As such, these Christian schools begin to pursue these things, thereby drifting from their founding purpose and worldview commitments. History teaches us that, when Christian universities start down this path, they begin a journey from which they may never recover, compromising their distinctive purpose and losing their institutional soul.
Williams Baptist University is not like secular institutions – and we do not want to be. We have a distinctive purpose with distinctively Christian commitments and expressions. We have a unique purpose.
Our mission is not simply to provide four years of liberal arts education so that our students can complete their studies, graduate, and get a better job, although these are admirable goals, and we work hard to achieve these objectives. Our purpose is not to imitate the beliefs and practices of secular schools with value-added programs, like chapel, Bible studies, mission trips, etc.
On a formal level, our mission is to produce exceptional graduates prepared to competently engage local and global cultures through a Christ-centered worldview. Stated another way – Williams Baptist University exists to equip and mobilize Christian leaders to influence our world with the gospel for the glory of God. Our mission is to prepare transformational leaders. In other words, the purpose of Williams is to train our students to be leaders and then to send them into the world to lead.
A crucial lesson from history we dare not forget is that leaders do change the world. And if ever our world needed good leaders – godly leaders – surely the need of this moment in history is for the right kind of leader. Leadership matters – leaders shape all facets of life and culture. Leaders change the world.
I believe the need for leaders is as great as it has ever been, yet we are living in a time when good leaders are in short supply. I believe what we most need are good leaders – transformational leaders – leaders who define themselves and their mission in terms of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Over the past few months, I have written about the Williams Way. At Williams, we describe transformational leaders as Williams Way leaders. The Williams Way traits have been gleaned from our institutional history – dispositions that have marked the men and women who have studied here and have worked here. The Williams Way traits are how we measure leadership.
- Christ-centered purpose – an identity and purpose embedded in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ
- Unwavering tenacity – a persistent refusal to quit; to persist unwaveringly, sustained by God’s power & provision
- Courageous faith – bold actions driven by a biblically-grounded faith
- Selfless sacrifice – willingness to make sacrificial commitments, even at great personal expense
- Vocational mission – a sense of God’s call to serve through work
As a university, these five traits are what we seek to instill in our students – to equip them to be this kind of leader.
Williams Way leaders are men and women who, like the sons of Issachar, understand the times and know what to do (1 Chron. 12:32). Williams Way leaders are men and women who make a conscious, intentional commitment to follow Christ, and then lead in light of that commitment. Williams Way leaders understand God’s leadership calling for their lives, discover and cultivate their leadership gifts, and then lead.
I believe the purpose of Williams is to create these kinds of leaders. I believe this university was founded to create the kind of leader who makes a difference for the glory of God and the good of creation. I believe our Lord is looking for men and women to be Williams Way leaders.
Our collegiate context is the platform by which we equip and mobilize our students to be leaders of influence in whatever area and in every area where God calls them. Our mission is to change our world, to make a difference, by preparing a new generation of leaders – men and women with the biblical conviction to stand for and do what is right, even in the face of incredible forces that push back against them. This is why we exist.
Our founder, Dr. H. E. Williams, often referred to Williams as “A Campus of Christian Purpose.” Notice his emphasis upon the word “purpose.” We exist for a purpose – a Christian purpose – purpose fulfilled in a collegiate context.
This is our purpose – I believe that God has prepared and equipped Arkansas Baptists to build a university with a Christ-centered worldview – faithfully grounded on the Bible and unashamedly focused upon the gospel. I believe that God established Williams Baptist University “for such a time as this,” to fulfill this purpose, and I believe the importance, relevance, and need for this purpose is as great as it has ever been. Our purpose is to impact the world with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping, educating, and training gospel-minded leaders for service in all facets of human existence.
We are the generation that God has prepared for this time, and the purpose of Williams Baptist University is a significant way God’s people can do something about the way things are. The mission of Williams is a way the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ can come together to educate and equip a generation of Christian leaders with the biblical conviction to do what is right and stand for what is right, regardless of the social, political, or economic challenges that confront us.
That is the Williams Way!