Healthy Leaders, Leadership

12 Lessons I Learned from Robertson McQuilkin by Roy King

I entered seminary in the fall of 1977 and Robertson taught a required course on the Christian Life.  Not only was the course life changing but it started a relationship that has blossomed into an enduring friendship.

Robertson does not like to be called a “mentor”, he prefers just being my friend  And when I ask for advice he often says, “I have no advice but I will share an opinion if you want it.”  But in spite of his disclaimers he has poured much wisdom into me over the past 37+ years.  I often scribble notes in my journal or personal prayer list after our lunches or visits.  So here goes! — My first public sharing of some of the “gifts” of Robertson’s thinking over the years.  I told him recently I did not want to wait for his funeral to say nice things about him.  I wanted him to hear them!

  1. JUST DO THE NEXT THING GOD SHOWS YOU.  In looking back over his life he never had a plan or goals to do anything great or big — he just followed what seemed to be the next step God showed him.
  2. LOOK FOR RISING STARS AND LEVERAGE THEM.  This was an aspect of his presidential duty. He would look for “rising stars” in the student body, CIU faculty and staff, and the larger Christian world and do whatever he could to contribute to their journey.
  3. KNOW YOUR LIMITS.  DON’T TRY TO DIE ON EVERY HILL.  He would admit that that he may not have always made the correct choices but he sought to identify the ethical concerns in the society or the critical practices of the school that needed his presidential influence and he limited how many he would address at a time.
  4. JUST DO WHAT YOU CAN DO.  I have often heard him pray a paraphrase from Psalm 131 “Lord, all of “this” (usually weighty concerns we had been discussing) is too much for me….but not for You.”
  5. TO LIVE IN TENSION IS GOOD.  Robertson has very few simple answers on biblical or theological concerns.  He often speaks of seeking to find the “center of biblical tension”.  Living in the center of tension will be more uncomfortable than going to a consistent extreme.  Often you will be shot at by Christians on each end if you try to hold a balanced biblical tension.  Robertson’s experience in seeking to apply this principle with others had been disappointing at times.  Because of the tendency for blind spots in our self-awareness many of us (even if we are viewed by others as being at one end of an extreme), see ourselves as being in the place of balance and the problem is THOSE other people.
  6. BALANCE IS NOT THE GOAL FOR YOUR LIFE.  If you mean giving all aspects of life an equal share you will be in trouble. He views the balanced life as one aligned with God’s priorities — which is building his church among all peoples.  Once your passion is aligned with God’s passion and priority — then be content to offer YOUR contribution; whatever God has entrusted to you to offer to God’s cause
  7. WRITING HAS POTENTIAL FOR BROADER IMPACT.  Verbal communication influences the current and maybe the next generation.  Written communication has potential to transcend your life.
  8. SEE THE BIG PICTURE AND DISCERN CRITICAL POINTS — Get alone with God in retreats and spend some time clarifying your perspective  Many of his books, courses he created at CIU in the core curriculum, and personnel hires came out of these vision clarifying times.
  9. WHEN FACING A PROBLEM SEEK SOLUTIONS NOT VICTORIES.  If you make others the enemy to conquer you lose in the long term.
  10. LUST IS MURMURING AND DISCONTENTMENT. This is the opposite of God’s will of contentment and thanksgiving.
  12. IN TERMS OF OUR SANCTIFICATION GOD IS CONCERNED ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN JUST VICTORY OVER DAILY SIN.  God made us in his image to be in an experience of a LOVE relationship with him.  Yes, personal holiness is a goal but it is just the means to an end — not the objective.  Evaluate your life often by evaluating your love life with God and others.  Are you growing in love?

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