Over the last few years the university has adopted Matthew 19:26 (“…with God all things are possible”) as a corporate reminder of the person and power of God in the life of our community. Earlier in the book of Matthew (17:17-21), Jesus answered a question from his disciples when they failed to perform a miracle. Jesus tells them it was their lack of faith that prevented their seeing the hand of God. He told them that they only needed a very small amount of faith in God to witness the impossible.
This incident reminds me of another event when others could not see the future God had in store for them. In many ways, faith is all about envisioning that which has not manifested itself. Moses led Israel to the edge of the promised land and selected 12 leaders from each tribe to spy out the land God had given them. Somewhere along the way 10 of the 12 lost sight of what God had promised. Their vision was blurred by fear. They lost faith in the God who made all things possible. Through the lenses of fear and doubt they could only see what they deemed as the practical, the rational and the reasonable. Somehow they forgot that “with God all things are possible.”
We at FPU have started a journey to revitalize the Fresno Pacific Idea for the 21st century. Our clarion call is to: “Engage the Cultures and Serve the Cities.” These are the lenses which now frame our planning and work together. In that context I suggested during the inauguration three stratagems to consider for integration in our work and service to students. They were: Encouraging a self-less passion for learning; Empowering a spirit of reconciliation and peace-making; and Inspiring courageous innovation.
These are just seeds for beginning the conversation on envisioning the future. Our strategic plan and the strategic priorities for this year only help to guide areas we need to address. Those documents neither provide a corporate vision of what we are becoming, nor define the influence we will have in the region and the world. The envisioning process does not change our mission, values or Christ-centered commitment. It does provide clearer lenses for why and how we accomplish our goals. The FPU of today is quite different from the FPU of 10 years ago. We did not necessarily plan or prepare for these changes. We, like most Christian colleges and universities, reacted to the external changes in our country with hope just to survive the numerous crises we had no plans to address.
The few exceptions were those institutions who moved from the common and did their work in uncommon ways but did so with a concrete vision in mind. Their teaching strategies, building projects, community engagement, faculty and staff development, even the management of their infrastructure, were all planned in the context of their vision and external exigencies.
The official vision of the university is: Fresno Pacific is a leading Christian University known for Academic Excellence, Innovative Programming, and Spiritual Vitality. These are all commendable aspirations but need work on how we define in uncommon ways what is included in academic excellence, innovative programming and spiritual vitality. As our accreditation body could ask-Can you show us the intentional outcomes of your work?
We all should be reminded that defining the mission, values and vision of this university is the responsibility of the FPU Board of Trustees. Our responsibility as staff and faculty are to develop plans on how the vision is actualized. We do have the opportunity to provide input in how the three areas should appear in their maturing stages. We will therefore convene four town halls in the coming weeks designated as “Envisioning the Future” in four areas: 1) Students, 2) Faculty and staff, 3) Community/internal -external, 4) Facilities/infrastructure. We will use this time to review our strategic plan, our current progress and discuss possible strategic priorities for the 2018-19 school year. These town halls will be an open forum for discussing the possibilities. We as a community should come to these forums with the conviction that “with God all things are possible.”