Living a life worthy of their calling

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By Richard Gammill
PREVIEW Columnist

The scandal that hit Liberty Christian University last month disappointed me and broke my heart. I want to stand up and point to the hundreds of Christian colleges and universities led by men and women of unimpeachable character and high integrity. They may be little known beyond their constituencies, while one of their number is held up to the scrutiny of the entire nation. 

One president and his wife not only betrayed their sacred trust, but impugned the reputations of their peers. Deeply flawed, they fell. We must be careful not to allow a single transgression to diminish our high regard for all the leaders who serve their students with distinction. I pray for this couple to come to God’s forgiving grace.

Looming large in my experience as a student at a Christian college in Idaho were the president and his wife. He was my spiritual hero, someone I wanted to emulate. He was dignified yet warm and approachable. His Friday chapel messages held to a high intellectual standard while they spoke to my heart. His wife, always gracious and caring, modeled Christian womanliness for the coed students, including the one who would become my wife. Together, they exemplified what a Christian couple could be.

Ten years later, my denomination appointed me to a position that took me to all the affiliated colleges once or twice a year. This opportunity acquainted me with all the presidents and, in most cases, with their wives. These couples often invited me to their home. These leaders worked hard and devoted themselves to the academic success and spiritual welfare of their students. Their wives, also, many known as women of prayer, set a standard for the female students. The Christian example of these presidential couples uplifted the campus.

Later, my oldest son, Jeff, enrolled in one of these colleges in San Diego. He told us about the girls he was dating. One outstanding classmate caught and held his attention — the president’s daughter. They became engaged during their junior year and married in the spring of their senior year — the social event of the season.

I share four precious granddaughters with that college president and wife. The girls lost their daddy to cancer just before the oldest one graduated from high school. Three of them have since graduated from one of those affiliated colleges in Oklahoma City, and the fourth is now in her junior year. Each is a lovely example of Christian womanhood. I am grateful for their beautiful mother, whose parents bestowed on her a legacy of faith and character, which she has passed down to a new generation.

Christian college presidents — and their wives — challenge thousands of young students and graduates, by word and example, to live a life worthy of their high calling. I honor them all.