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I’ve been blessed and stressed with the privilege of leading in my life.

I consider my leadership experience to be a gift from God and I wouldn’t trade any part of it, even the most difficult times. One reason leadership is special to me is I believe I was (and still am in a different assignment) doing what the Lord wanted me to do, and another is that I learned a few things.

It sometimes bothers me when I read leadership books or articles written by people who’ve never led anything. It’s not that you can’t learn from them. Of course you can. On the other hand, experience counts for something in everything we do in life. My first experience in upper-level administration began in 1988 and in one assignment or another continues to this day.

Giving Good To Whom It Is Due In the fall of that first year I hung a Bible verse, written in calligraphy, on my office wall. It’s never left my wall to this day. I can see it now as I write. This verse is a reminder and a commitment:

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it” (Proverbs 3:27, KJV).

I have not always measured up, but I’ve tried to make this principle a key ingredient of my leadership philosophy. In that spirit, one of my favorite leadership tasks has always been handing out awards, especially at graduation. For years I told university audiences “Commencement is my favorite day of the year.” That day like no other expressed what we were about.

Celebrating faculty or staff book publications is another example. Recognizing authors in front of their peers with a gift of a matted, framed cover of their new book is big-time fun.

Ideas-That-Weren't-Mine I also enjoyed citing what I called “Ideas-That-Weren’t-Mine.” Certainly not every great idea came from me, even if as president I was usually the one who took the idea to the Board, personnel, students, constituency, or the public. Pointing to beautiful buildings or growing programs or successful projects and remembering aloud by name the person who birthed the idea was and is a great way to enjoy highpoints.

A leader’s satisfaction shouldn’t come from trying to be the most brilliant person in the organization. Leaders who try this usually bloom early and quickly wilt. No one can keep up with this and no one else wants to endure it. A leader’s satisfaction should come in helping develop an organization that attracts talented and dedicated people, one where they want to work, stay, and thrive.

Leaders In Demand Leaders are always faced with the question of demand. Everyone wants a piece of whoever wears the top hat. I tried to be visible on campus in as many places and as often as reasonable—the “managing by walking around” idea. Of course, others often defined reasonable differently. But a leader has to make these decisions in a way that stewards the entire organization, as well as his or her needs and family life, not just those of a given interest group. I liked to speak regularly in chapel so the student body remembered who I was and hopefully connected with me. I wrote regularly for the student newspaper, which I strongly supported and believe is a key ingredient in a healthy university.

Taking A Position I tried to avoid “university positions.” Issues come and go, but whatever they are, people usually want an organization, especially a Christian university, to “take a position.” At times I stated “my position,” but except for a few key moral questions, I tried to side-step making statements that purported to be the “university position.” Not every issue controversy—actually not very many issue controversies—require a “university position.” I told people the university had a stated mission, values, and doctrinal statement, beyond this, for the most part “positions” should be the province of the faculty, staff, and students.

Decision-Making Finally, as I reflect, I can’t identify very many decisions about which I can say, “I did that.” Obviously I made many operational decisions in the course of daily administration. But I’m talking about leadership style and the fact that the bigger or more significant the decision, the less likely the leader should make it alone. This was true for me, contrary to what people often thought. Think of it this way: “If you’re going to play your cards close to your chest, you’d better be good.” Why not take advantage of the talent and experience around you?

Once a decision was made, I announced it—and if necessary, took the hits. It’s the leader’s job to share the credit and absorb the blame, whether or not he or she deserves either at any given time.

Leadership is not about the leader. It’s about the mission and vision of the organization, the people who make this possible, and the contribution to the greater good an organization makes. Sounds lofty, but that’s what makes leadership, at least effective leadership, significant and fun.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


I hold graduate degrees in political science, so I began my academic career teaching government and politics courses. Later, when I became a university president, I told people “I don’t teach politics anymore, but I practice politics every day.”

Writing for Radio For over 16 years, I was privileged to write a daily radio program. Doing so was not my idea. It was our vice president for broadcasting’s idea, and his vision for what it could do proved correct. Nothing I did garnered more frequent and more positive response, or opened more doors for my day job as president, than the “Making a Difference” radio program.

Philosophy of Life My philosophy of life, something that for years I’ve called “Proactive Stewardship,” also helped me in leadership. Proactive stewardship may be an inelegant phrase, but it captures what I believe the Word of God teaches about leadership. It means that I should be forward-thinking, “pro” rather than “re”-active, and that I am accountable to God for the time, talent, and treasure he’s given me. So I tried to develop a leadership style characterized by a high degree of energy, a strong work ethic courtesy of my father’s and two grandfathers’ influence, a fairly quick work pace, a lot of ideas and “vision” (doesn’t always need to be your own; can embrace anyone’s good ideas and vision), and a hunger to do more and better for the Lord.

Organization Charts One of my favorite maxims regarding perennial debates about organizational structures is that “Any system will work and no system will work. It depends on the people in the system.” I’ve yet to find an organizational chart silver bullet that fixes everything. So, I’m pretty open to changes in the chart when it seems warranted, including titles, because such things are all means to an end: accomplishing the mission. But you also have to remember that titles mean something to people and changing a title can unsettle as well as reinforce personnel.

Developing Leaders I believe in developing leaders throughout the organization. Two corollaries: I believe in strong, which is to say proactive and effective, leadership at all levels, trustees, the president, vice presidents, deans and directors, and personnel. And the stronger the leaders at each link the stronger the chain. And I believe in accountable leadership, first to the Lord as I noted above and then to others.

Making Hard Decisions Making what I called “hard decisions,” those involving people’s job performance or continuance in the organization, are the most stressful any leader faces. The most difficult decisions are those involving the termination of an employee for cause or, even more difficult, a reduction in force required as part of an organizational budget adjustment.

My most challenging time in leadership occurred when the university experienced financial shortfalls and we were forced to make adjustments laying off several staff members. It hurt, relationally, emotionally, physically. It was one of those times in leadership when I had trustees speaking in one ear saying, “You’re doing the right thing,” or “We’re with you on this,” or the one I’ll never forget from a close trustee friend, “I’m walking right beside you in this.” At the same time in the other ear, some personnel, students, or members of the general public called my actions, even my character, into question.

I learned a great deal:

  • God’s love is “unfailing” as he promises in the Psalms,
  • Some friends are indeed fair-weather,
  • The media thrives on controversy not necessarily facts,
  • A leader must step up, lead, take the hits, and keep his or her eye on the goal,
  • “Laying off” is not the same as “firing,” but it feels the same to the person on the receiving end, which means that only later will this difference make a difference,
  • There’s no easy or pleasant way to inform people they’ve lost their job, and there’s certainly no easy or pleasant way to receive this information, but it can be done with dignity and professionalism, and it can be done appropriately in a Christian organization focusing upon its stewardship.

Since that time, I have tried to call or write leaders who’re experiencing difficult times, not to assess or take positions on their actions but to support them as individuals. They always respond with surprise and gratitude and I consider this a new kind of ministry that God has given to me.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

I grew up in a small town extended family in which virtually everyone was a believer and in which my maternal grandfather, "Bones, was the lively, hilarious spiritual patriarch of the family. He was also a leading deacon in our church. I now understand this experience was a rare gift. Both of my parents are yet living and both are dedicated Christian people and have been since before I was born. Mom is a retired piano and organ teacher who has participated in church music since her teens, and Dad has been a member of my home church deacon board for over forty years.

It’s not a stretch to say my sister and I come from a “Christian home” in the best sense of that term. And I made a personal profession of faith in Christ at six years of age and was later baptized.

In my family I learned and I believe the Bible is God’s inerrant Word and our guide for faith and practice. As a young person I attended Sunday School, Daily Vacation Bible School, Church camp, Teens for Christ, and you name it, I was there. I did everything a kid from a Christian home and a fundamentalist Baptist church was supposed to do.

Don't get me wrong. I was no angel. I was just a kid who experienced all the blessings and lessons of a Christian home. Then I attended a Christian college.

Aside from a Christian family upbringing nothing has marked my life more than my undergraduate Christian college experience. I loved every minute of it. While I was in college God delivered me from a spiritual struggle. Early in my Christian life I wrestled with doubt—not in the existence of God but in whether or not I was truly saved. My struggle ended with the assurances I found in 2 Timothy 2:11-13. Later, I discovered others who struggled with doubt, so as one outcome of my spiritual journey I’ve often spoken with college students about doubt, using Os Guinness’s work on the subject as one key supporting source.

It was also in Christian college that I found and pursued what became a wonderfully liberating understanding of the Christian faith, what we at that time called “a Christian theistic world-life view.” My growing understanding of a biblically based Christian philosophy of life gradually allowed me to set aside certain fears, undeveloped views, or limited understandings rooted in my good but sometimes legalistic church experience in favor of a still thoroughly biblical but culture-engaging, forward thinking perspective of life. Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer began writing his influential books just before and while I was in college, which he continued until his passing during our young married years. His books helped me look more positively and confidently upon the world, life, and learning, knowing the Christian faith offered “true truth,” as he called it, and that one need not fear learning something that would someday undermine one’s faith. My Christian college years also provided me with an excellent writing and critical thinking-based undergraduate education, with an attraction to the teaching profession and a sense of calling into Christian higher education, and, perhaps most importantly of all, with a friend who would become my wife of now 36 years.

Years hence I was finally able to write what I consider something of a personal manifesto, Christian Liberty:  Living for God in a Changing Culture. This book expresses my understanding of how to apply a biblically Christian worldview so one may live “In the world” while being “Not of the world,” yet remembering God said to go “Into the world.” I consider myself a conservative evangelical.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


T-shirts, like bumper stickers and license plates, have become individual Americans' shout-out billboards. We proclaim our politics and theology, root for the home team, and express undying affection for this, that, and the other.

When you travel, reading t-shirts is one way to keep the mind active and the travel-weariness at bay.

Here are a few I've seen recently:

“The Sarcasm Society, Like we need your support.”

“If blondes have more fun…do they know it?”

“Just hand over the chocolate and no one will get hurt.”

Chicago: “Don’t hassle me. I’m a local.”

Knoxville: “I ran out of sick days, so I called in dead.”

Paris: “Shouldn’t the Air and Space Museum be Empty?”

Minneapolis: “I Love Boobs.” – The "I" is a bowling pin and text on the back of the shirt provides details re "bowling for breast cancer." By the way, a woman was wearing this t-shirt...

And my all-time favorite that I saw in Phoenix years ago: “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat.” Picture shows a human skeleton lying up against a cactus.

Is this a great country or what?


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow at

I'm into social media, Facebook, Twitter, so this is not a Luddite rant. But along with others I've mused about what the social media juggernaut seems to mean or imply for thinking, writing, and civility:

  • People say things in print they often won't say in person.
  • The quantity of online expression may be inversely related to its quality.
  • Because something is posted doesn't make it so.
  • Road rage has given way to cyber rage with neither one amounting to much.
  • It's easier to misrepresent, even lie, with more extensive, longer-lasting negative impact than it used to be.
  • No leader(s) can any longer stay ahead of or respond in a timely fashion to real-time events because people are communicating about the event as they participate in them and as they happen.
  • It's possible to say something profound in 140 characters, but this won't often happen.The number of followers or fans one counts is more a measure of celebrity than significance.
  • Christians should be active via social media like they should be active via anything else that doesn't violate the moral will of God.
  • Both the noble and the ignoble show up in social media because people are involved.
  • Tweeting what one had for breakfast says more about the tweeter's need for affirmation than the tweetee's need to know.
  • Relationships can be developed via social media, but the same character criteria should be applied as in any other relationship.
  • Social media is no longer limited to youth.
  • If international Christian ministries want young people to learn about, care about, and engage with missions, the ministries had better increase their online presence because youth live in cyberspace and if a ministry isn't there it doesn't exist.
  • Static websites, i.e. limited changes in content over time, attract one-time visitors.
  • Websites still form a foundation but they're almost passe in favor of more dynamic, rapidly changing real-time interaction available via new media.
  • Personality and character show up in social media expression, print or audio or video.
  • You are what you post?
  • Almost no one, let alone a notable leader or celebrity or otherwise recognizable person, is ever now in a truly private circumstance beyond the reach of cell phone video or still shot cameras, voice recorders, and of course, the emails, text messages, or other communications of people nearby.
  • The more we're plugged in, the more we live on the grid, the less we're unplugged and live life off the grid...what are we missing our Grandparents understood?
  • Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears are easy to envision working in social media, not so much Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Mother Teresa.
  • In the movie "Gladiator" the Maximus character said, "What we do in life echoes in eternity." True, in the hands of Providence, but now what we post echoes for all our life in Google.
  • Wonder what the next Twitter du jour will be?
  • © Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010

    This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part but must include a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

    This week the SAT-7 Field Staff spent time in two seminars focusing upon "asset-based giving." Both sessions reminded us that "God owns the cattle on a thousand hills." He owns all that we are, have, or ever hope to have.

    Randy Veltkamp, President of West Michigan Christian Foundation, led the first seminar, along with VP Jamison Kuiper. Both men explained that most people give to charity out of an approximately 7% cash or liquid portion of their net worth. In other words, we work from our checkbooks. Meanwhile, for most individuals, whether wealthy or not so wealthy, our actual giving capacity is tied up in some 93% non-liquid assets, like property, stocks , or other investments.

    While Americans are very generous people, giving some $307.65 billion to charitable causes in 2008, still, on average Americans only gave about 2.5% of their incomes. Their net worth and thus full giving capacity is far higher, so the percentage Americans gave of their actual ability to give is much lower than 2.5%. Christians don't give appreciably more and, thus, don't remotely approach the 10% tithe God commands in his Word. So the story of American generosity is a good news, bad news scenario.

    What we need to do as fundraising officers of Christian nonprofits is to help people understand giving spiritually: it's a mind thing, developing a theology of giving; and it's a heart thing, developing an obedience to God's direction and a compassion toward others. Once people understand giving spiritually, they'll give more cheerfully, more often, more faithfully, and usually just plain more.

    In a second seminar, Richard Dorsey, Planned Giving Director for The Salvation Army West Michigan and Northern Indiana Division, reviewed several issues, questions, or concerns people raise when they're presented with opportunities to give. People say, "I cannot afford to give more" or "My assets are tied up in real estate, what can I do?" Or "I'm going to sell my real estate...etc soon." All of these concerns and more are legitimate, but none of them prevent a person from becoming better stewards of the resources God has given them. They just need help seeing what options are available to them, ones that legally and appropriately reduce their tax liabilities while increasing their ability to care for themselves, their heirs, and their favorite charities.

    People sometimes look upon fundraising as manipulation, trickery, or strong-arming, sort of a bucketful of ways shysters leverage money from people's pockets. Unfortunately, at one time or another fundraising, or rather fundraisers, have been all these things.

    But fundraising rightly understood and implemented is simply a process of placing in front of people opportunities for them to help others by being good stewards of the resources God has entrusted temporarily to them. Helping people grow in their understanding of giving and their capacity to give is helping them to experience the joy of giving while they're living.

    Learning to give wisely out of ones total assets, not simply available cash, is a win-win. It's beneficial first to the giver because it preserves assets from undue taxation and moves them toward personal support, family, or charitable causes. And second, it generally means charitable causes, the ones closest to the giver's heart, experience greater support and therefore ability to fulfill their mission.

    SAT-7 USA is developing its sophistication in assisting supporters' spiritual well-being and their stewardship. In this we trust God is pleased.

    © Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010

    This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part but must include a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at