This week, I conclude my five-year term as serving on the Board of Trustees at North Greenville University. In this final year, I was surprised to have been asked to serve as chairman in what turned out to be a very interesting 2020 when it comes to all things, but especially, leading a university.
There’s not a lot to “turn-in” to the office this week, but I do have a lot of memories to keep.
When I was asked in 2015 to consider serving on the board, I was unsure about accepting the position.
- I really was unsure what trustees did in the first place.
- I didn’t have the type of finances that would change the school’s trajectory.
- The school was going through a significant transition in leadership.
- There were challenging issues that required some serious work.
- I didn’t know if I had the adequate time to commit.
- I really didn’t see how I personally could contribute anything to the process.
For those reasons, I was hesitant. Due to loyalty to those who asked me, I prayerfully considered.
My time at North Greenville University helped change every aspect of who I am today. If I could help usher that in for others, I would consider the highest of honors.
When my wife and I prayed about the responsibility, we had two 7-year-olds and one 3-year-old. I was serving as an associate pastor in Greenwood and teaching at Lander University. I didn’t need or desire anything else on my plate. I especially didn’t want to wade into something unnecessarily challenging or frustrating. I knew that the university would make significant changes in the following years and it would be accompanied by struggle to get there. I also had no idea about the unsolicited changes that were unexpectedly on our near horizon personally.
We also knew this that if we commit to something, we jump in all the way. I’m not a fan of halfhearted association. If I was going to have the position, it was going to cost me something.
One day, my wife said, “When I think about you adding something extra to your plate, I’m hesitant. But when I think about someone helping guide the school to hire the next president and oversee needed change of the place where our kids could possibly go to college, I trust you doing it.”
We put our “yes” on the table, and we trusted God for the results.
I never spoke to anyone about what I prayed would see happen during the next 5 years. I had a short list of 7 things I pray that I could be a part of during that time. They were significant shifts that I believed necessary for the school to go forward.
What was on that list?
You thought I was going to tell that? That’s something for God and myself to reminisce about and probably not for public communication. It was very clear to me though. These were opportunities to make a great school even greater. I felt very confident of things I felt the Spirit guiding me to prioritize in whatever way I could during my time there.
Five years later, I can say this about that list: God is faithful.
He did all that and even more. He still is in the business of doing exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or even dream about (Eph. 3:20).
A lot has happened at the university. A lot of has happened in our life as well.
When I think through what has happened in the last five years, I am thankful to have had a great seat at which to watch God at work.
- Dr. Gene Fant, his cabinet, the faculty, and staff could not be more quality. They are honoring the work of the past but leading marvelously into the future.
- The board of trustees is a faithful group of people who love Jesus and are willing to put the work into North Greenville.
- The students are absolute legends, and I want to be like them when I grow up.
- All cylinders are firing regarding the operations of the school.
- The school’s balance to make transformational leaders for church and society is desperately needed and profoundly working.
I’m rolling off the board, but I’m staying on as an alum and supporter. However I can help, I want to serve the university that made such a difference in me.
In the midst of the board meetings, strategic initiatives, campus plans, and financial spreadsheets, I believe my favorite activity at the school was not board expectations. Moving to Greenville during the process and having the ability to disciple some of these students has been one of the greatest honors of my life. Knowing these students and watching their sanctification is what gave all the responsibilities value. All the hard work was worth it because they are worth it.
When I began this process, I didn’t want to be someone who benefits from the sacrifices of others just to turn my focus when it’s time for me to give back.
It is so easy to dedicate to an organization when it benefits you and ignore it when it needs you.
While I didn’t think NGU needed me (there are plenty of people far better suited than myself to have served in that capacity), I do believe it was my responsibility to give back. Every organization is built upon those who prioritize serving the ones coming behind.
I was blessed by my time at NGU. It’s time for me to continue to be a blessing. All other alum, I’m calling on you. Find a way to give back to an organization that gave so much to you.
It’s been a long, busy 5 years, but I am grateful I got to see where Jesus has brought us during this time. I can’t wait to see what is next for the university where Christ makes the difference.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.