Jason K. Allen on Seven Years & Seven Leadership Lessons as President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

For me, this week marks seven completed years as president of Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College. Annually, this season prompts personal and institutional reflection and thanksgiving. This year, it’s been doubly so.

At the personal level, I’m astonished how quickly the years have passed. We arrived in Kansas City with five children, ages 9-4, in tow. Now those same children are 16-11. For the Allen family, Kansas City has become our home, and the seminary our life’s calling.

At the institutional level, God has blessed beyond measure. In the fall of 2012, we set forth a clear vision — that Midwestern Seminary would exist for the church, an ambitious enrollment goal — 2000 students by 2020, and we perceived an urgent need — to build a sustainable business model. There was much more to do, but these were the big three.

Seven years later, Midwestern’s vision is known to all who know the institution. We are for the church. God has nearly quadrupled our enrollment, with our 2018/19 headcount hitting 4,000 students. And on the financial front, we’ve gone from annual revenues approximating $8,000,000 to north of $25,000,000, all the while more than doubling the seminary’s assets, growing them by nearly $40,000,000.

Yet, I must confess, I’m less the mastermind of this institutional transformation as I am a beholder of it. God’s answered prayers, kind providences, and the hard work of the amazing team he’s given me have propelled us forward. And from this institutional transformation, dozens of leadership lessons have emerged. Consider with me these seven.

First, vision matters. Vision is a biblical concept, but it is also a practical one. You’ll never recruit the best team, much less retain them, if they don’t know why the organization exists. The vision serves as a cohesive, pulling the organization together. It’s also a propellant, hurtling it forward. I’m convinced much of our institutional strength goes back to a vision that’s clear and compelling — for the church.

Second, conviction matters. What you believe and why you believe it are defining aspects of any self-respecting institution. As a confessional seminary, we enjoy a sacred stewardship, a singular trust on behalf of the churches we serve. Thus, we are committed to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. We also hold to guiding documents like the Danvers, Chicago, and Nashville statements. Our charge is to prove doctrinally sound and institutionally sturdy, articulating and defending these truths from one decade to the next.

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Source: Baptist Press