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Moral Courage

A Message from President Haye

 

I was recently on a trip and struck up a conversation with a fellow traveler. The conversation turned, as conversations invariably do, to the question of “What do you do?” I always find this an interesting question. Nine times out of ten the questioner is asking about job or vocation. I always pause before readily embarking on that conversational train, however, because it seems to concede something important about identity. We are more than what we “do." We are created in the image of God with meaning and purpose. One of our greatest joys in life is coming to understand who we are in Christ and embarking on a life-long journey of following His leading as we engage in the world around us. We are, in effect, on mission. Our vocations are but one manifestation of our meaning and purpose.

Now, I suspected my fellow traveler might not be ready to hear, so I politely told him that I serve at Patrick Henry College, one of America’s best kept secrets. When he asked further, well, that was my all-clear to talk about mission, vision, the Formula, internships, Faith & Reason lectures, Supreme Court clerkships, Lake Bob, and about the faith journey that led me to PHC. It turned into a delightful, wide-ranging conversation that easily absorbed all the time before boarding the next flight.

I became a Trustee of PHC 24 years ago. Since that time, and especially over the past seven years of serving as President, I have understood PHC to be a special place blessed by God. Not a perfect place, but one with a clear mission and vision that requires both humility and determination. My life has been changed as a result of God’s work in this place.

Over the years, I have seen the College grow and mature. Like all institutions, growth and maturity are dynamic, often uneven processes. But through it all, God has proven Himself faithful time after time.

Our mission and vision have not wavered since our founding. By God’s grace we understand who we are and what He has called us to do.

Patrick Henry College exists to challenge the status quo in higher education for the glory of God. Our calling is to train up men and women who will be equipped and inspired to preserve the very best of America for future generations; leaders who understand what it means to lead for the glory of God and the good of those who follow; leaders who, like the men of Issachar, understand the times.

In many ways, our country is at crossroads. We believe God has called us to fill a specific void that has been created in higher education as even formerly faithful institutions have bowed to both internal and external pressures to distance themselves from the “inconvenient” Truths of God’s Word.

Haye, Teen Leadership Camp 2

Pictured above: President Haye teaching classes in Leadership and Vocation camp to teens from across America as part of

Patrick Henry College's Teen Leadership Camp program.

 

Some may see it as a David and Goliath story with all the odds stacked on the other side. But history is filled with stories of men and women who dared to radically trust God and take a stand, often against seemingly impossible odds. Imperfect people like each of us who had a decision to make when confronted with challenges.

Like us, they had to decide if they would trust God and have the moral courage needed to bring His promises to the foreground or would they bring their circumstances and fears into sharp relief—pushing faith and trust to the blurry edges of the picture.

What is moral courage? It is the courage to do the right thing despite the risk of adverse consequences. Courage born of careful thought and moral reasoning, not just knee-jerk reactions (moral outrage). Courage displayed in a manner that reflects and represents the image of Christ. Humble but strong, winsome but bold, and resolute, but flexible in the hand of a mighty God.

This requires a lens that enables us to look at complex issues and hard situations with discernment. As followers of Christ, that discernment comes as we test our ideas and analyses against the standards of God’s Word, which leads to convictions, not just opinions based on human understanding. In short, it requires a transformed way of thinking.
Paul describes this process in Romans 12:1-2.

We are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, not holding anything back. This volitional act of surrender to the LORD leads to the renewal of our minds through the enabling work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which leads to transformation, not conformity to the world.

The books we read, the media we consume, the community we build, the time we spend in worship and in God’s Word directly impact this process of transformation in each of our lives.

It is our prayer and our goal at Patrick Henry College to set the table and provide the opportunity for transformational growth so our students can faithfully navigate the complex questions of life with both humility and moral courage, learning to rely on the Holy Spirit to quicken their hearts to understand and apply God’s Word to real life situations.

Our homes, our communities, our nation, and indeed our world are in desperate need of those kinds of leaders; leaders who are equipped, prepared and willing to step forward and be counted.

Leaders who understand what is at stake and have the moral courage to stand up for the things that matter most. To step outside their comfort zones and honestly engage in conversations even (or especially) if it puts them outside the ambit of cultural opinion.

Leaders who recognize that their willingness to clearly represent the Truth of the Gospel may be just the encouragement someone else needs to step forward as well.

That’s what moral courage is. It is the courage to take a stand despite doubts and fears about the potential consequences, compelled by convictions anchored in Truth, not driven by public opinion polls or numbers of “likes’ on social media.

May we all be people of such moral courage, willing to stand-up and be counted for Truth in big and small ways as people who love the LORD with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37).

Leaders who understand what it means to lead for the glory of God and the good of those who follow. Followers of Christ who are committed to a life-long journey of leaning on God for strength, wisdom and discernment. May you experience His Presence guiding you even today!

 

Standing in His Faithfulness,

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Jack Haye
President, Patrick Henry College