Welcome to the Dare to Be You Interview Series! I really love this series because I get to put the spotlight on some of the people who inspire me to be daring through all aspects of my life every day, and to learn more about them in a deeper and much more meaningful way. This amazing, talented & gifted young man is very special to me in more ways than I can count! I don't want to divulge the interview details yet, but when I think of Jacob, here are just a few of the words that bring powerful images to my mind...symbols of strong moral character I've seen grow & deepen over the last 4+ years since I first met him : 1. Visionary 2. Strategic, goal ignited with deep sense of purpose
3. Driven to connect & to do all things with excellence
4. Living & loving in the moment while preparing for the future
5. Selfless leader
I'm especially honored to spotlight Jacob Rohrer in this particular blog because while he is my student at this very moment as I write, that status will change with his Graduation Day, Friday, December 20th 2019 high atop the extraordinarily beautiful Holy Hill that is the Dallas Baptist University Campus! Yes, soon to be DBU MBA-MAL Alumnus (graduating with not one, but two Master's degrees), Patriot, & forever part of the DBU family, Jacob has also secured his own unique special space way down within my heart, deeply connected & with joyful anticipation of what The Lord has planned as we go forward into our next part of life's journey. To say I'm proud of Jacob is a huge understatement!!
When someone is our student, I really, really want to share the journey in the deepest way I know how. We share lots of moments, & whatever life throws our way. We are definitely on the path together from beginning to end & beyond. But when we also work side-by-side every day for some years, the connection is deep on every level. We have celebrated successes, laughed about the most wonderful things, cried together about the good things & the not so much things, shared joy & disappointment as family will, all the while praying for His guidance & help in all things. This to say, knowing Jacob Rohrer has been one of the greatest joys of my life! There's just no doubt to me that the future is very bright indeed!
Meet Jacob Rohrer! 1. Where are you now and what is your title?
- I serve as the Assistant to the President for Special Projects at Howard Payne University under the leadership of Dr. Cory Hines, former Vice President at DBU and current President at Howard Payne University
2. We would love to hear about your journey as you prepare to graduate this coming week!
- I started my undergraduate studies at DBU in the fall of 2013. I was very involved on Campus, serving in leadership positions in our Student Government Association as well as the Tau Alpha Phi Fraternity. In addition to my involvement in Campus life, I began working on campus in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions during the first month of my freshman year. After a couple of promotions, I was asked by Dr. Hines to join his team in the Office of Advancement in the spring of 2015. It was there that the Lord began to reveal His call on my life, though I would only realize it piece by piece over the next several years.
During the last semester of my senior year, I was offered a full-time job in Dr. Hines’ division at DBU serving in our Graduate School of Business. I graduated with my BBA in Business Management on May 13, 2016, and on May 16, 2016, I had my first day in my new role as an Academic Advisor for students who were pursuing their Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Management, and Master of Science in Management. Two weeks after I began my new job, I began my first semester of graduate studies. I felt the Lord telling me to pursue not just one Master’s degree, but instead pursue my dual MBA and Master of Arts in Leadership. Another sixty hours of school was daunting to me, but I followed His instruction, as I have learned over the years that it is better not to ignore God’s prompting, as you are going to end up doing what He wants either way.
My fears were very quickly put to rest, as I fell in love with my studies. My MBA courses challenged me to continue to grow in my passion for creative problem solving and innovative thinking, and my MAL classes helped me to continue to cultivate my passion for leadership and prepared me for what I now know is the Lord’s call on my life.
At the same time as I was falling in love with my studies, I was also falling in love with working in higher education. I was thrilled to face the challenges of establishing new strategies to increase enrollment for our graduate business programs. I enjoyed using my academic training by creating new marketing plans that would speak to various constituency groups. Most of all, I loved working directly with students as I helped guide them through their academic journey and towards the end of goal of achieving the dreams that they had of graduating with a Master’s degree. I knew that the Lord was calling me to serve in some kind of role that would involve helping others, but at the time, I thought this might be through healthcare, politics, or a nonprofit organization focused on some sort of social issue.
However, it was during my time in the Graduate School of Business at DBU that I realized the Lord was calling me to a career in Christian Higher Education.
In June 2018, Dr. Hines asked me to again working directly under his leadership and serve as a Project Manager for the Enrollment Division at DBU. I joined the Enrollment team, and I felt on my heart that the Lord was preparing me for a big transition, but I did not yet know what that was. It was later that year that Dr. Hines informed me that he was being considered for the Presidency at Howard Payne, and he asked me to join him there if he were to be called to that role. I knew right then that this was what the Lord had been preparing me for during my time both as a student and as an employee at DBU.
I joined the staff at Howard Payne University as Assistant to the President for Special Projects on April 8, 2019, and I am coming up on eight months of service here in Brownwood. The Lord is doing big things at HPU, and I am thankful that He has called me to play even such a small part in the Kingdom work that is taking place on the Howard Payne University Campus.
I am looking forward to walking the commencement stage on December 20, and I am even more excited that I get to graduate on the same day that my wife, Candace, will also graduate with her Master of Science in Kinesiology from DBU. After graduation, I will take a couple of years off from school as I spend time with Candace and focus on my role here at Howard Payne. After a couple of years, I hope to pursue my Ph.D. in the area of leadership as I continue to be prepared for my call to Christian Higher Education. I am so thankful for my time at DBU and for all I learned from Dr. Reid, Dr. Wright, Dr. Cook, and so many others on the DBU Campus. I am so grateful for the lifelong friendships that were developed, the lessons that were learned, the memories that were made, and the opportunities that were afforded to me on University Hill. December 20th will mark the bittersweet end to a very special chapter in my life, but I am grateful that I will forever be a part of the DBU Family.
While I hope to serve at Howard Payne for many, many years, DBU will always be my Alma Mater and a second home to Candace and me.
3. Share with us how you personally develop your competencies, always focused on improving overall every day.
- I think that there are two key strategies that I use to maximize growth as much as possible in my day-to-day life. The first strategy that I use is to watch and listen. I have learned so much from just sitting in a meeting and watching and listening to what happens. It is often not the subject of the meeting that I learn from, but instead the interpersonal communication that I am able to observe. I have learned to read the body language of leaders and match it up with their present emotional state. I have watched how good leaders steer emotional conversations in a constructive direction. I have watched how bad leaders do not hold their tongue in a conflict situation and then put themselves or their organization in a bind. I have learned an incredible amount about conflict resolution and leadership communication by just sitting back, watching, and listening in these situations.
The second strategy that I employ is based upon DBU Baseball Coach Dan Heefner’s mantra of getting one-percent better every day. This idea was so impactful to me the first time I heard it, and it has become a mentality that I have adopted in my personal and professional life. I aim for there to never be a day where I have not grown at least a bit, no matter how minimal, in at least one area of both my personal and professional life. This mentality of never being content with where I am but being self-aware that I can always grow allows me to avoid stagnation in my life, and instead pushes me to grow into the man, the husband, the leader, the employee, and the servant that the Lord has called me to be. If we are all being honest, there is no such thing as stagnation. You are either moving forward and growing in your life, or you are sliding backwards.
4. What advice would you give yourself if this were, say, three years ago?
- The biggest piece of advice that would give 22-year-old Jacob Rohrer is actually something that Dr. Adam Wright mentioned in a leadership seminar that I attended last Fall. Dr. Wright said, “Do not neglect the process of preparation.” This stuck with me, as I am extremely results-driven. I want to see the end goal realized, and I want to see it quickly. Therefore, if I feel like the Lord is calling me to something, I have a tendency to be impatient and to do exactly the opposite of what Dr. Wright said. That is, I am tempted to neglect the process of preparation, and when I am being impatient and living in the future, I do not maximize my growth in the present. Preparation is necessary for growth, and it is not to be minimized or understated. I have to actively resist the temptation to be restive and instead be grateful for the time of preparation that the Lord is allowing me. Preparation is necessary for any service to which the Lord is calling us. We must “prepare our minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13) so that we might be “be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2) for whatever Kingdom work God has in store for us.
5. I can hear “gratitude” in your words. For what are you most grateful?
- There is truly a multitude of things for which I am grateful. My wife, my family, my job, my time at DBU, my education, among many others. However, concerning my career, one of the things I am most grateful for is that so many people took a chance and entrusted me with responsibility when I was so young. Without the risk that people like Dr. Cook, Dr. Hines, and many others took as the provided me opportunities to grow at DBU, I can say confidently that I would not be where I am today or the person that I am today. I often am reminded of 1 Timothy 4:12, which reads, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” However, there are many times, be it on social media or on television or in print, that we hear that young people are lazy, entitled, selfish, unrealistic, too idealistic, [insert other young person stereotype here]. However, as a young person, I know that in actuality this is not the case. However, people in my life still took a risk by entrusting me, and that helped model the way for me to now entrust those younger than me with responsibility that they might not get from anyone else.
6. We all need mental sanctuaries. Tell us about your mental sanctuary and the role it plays in your life.
- My first mental sanctuary is, and always will be, the Bible. I consistently read through the Book of Psalms, in addition to whatever other Christian book and/or Bible study I am doing, as David and the other authors of the 150 Psalms are so honest about their fears, struggles, and anxieties, and I can often relate to those issues in a very real way.
With that being said, my other mental sanctuary is reading and learning. While I have not had the time to “read for fun” as much as I would have liked during my graduate studies, there is something so incredibly relaxing about sitting down with a cup of coffee and becoming engrossed in a good book. I try to split my reading evenly between fiction books and nonfiction books, as fiction books help to keep my right-brain active, and the nonfiction books help to keep my left-brain active. Additionally, I enjoy listening to podcasts, as it is a great way to learn about a variety of topics in a short time span while I am driving, doing chores, cooking dinner, etc.
7. Tell us about something priceless from your background that makes you right for your current “there.”
- I talked about preparation a little bit ago, but this is really where you can see the necessity of preparation and how the Lord puts us in positions where sometimes we do not even realize that we are being prepared. For me, the Lord began preparing me for my calling long before I even knew that my calling was to Christian Higher Education. Now, working in the President’s Office at a Christian University, I see how the Lord put me in certain roles so that I might be ready to effectively serve and lead in my current role. For example, during my time at DBU, I served in some capacity in:
o Undergraduate Admissions
o University Housing
o Student Affairs
o Academic Advising
o Graduate Program Directing
o Scholarship Committees
This is such a wide breadth of experience, and I never knew how it all fit together. However, now that I am serving in the Office of the President, I deal with each of these areas of the University on a daily basis. It is truly mind-boggling to see how the Lord was preparing me for my current role so long before I even knew what it was He was calling me to.
8. What two words describe the values you are driven to live by and give us an example for each of the values?
- This may sound cliché, especially to my DBU friends, but the two words that I would truly use to describe all the values that I am driven to live by are “servant leadership.” The term “servant leadership” really encompasses all that I think the Lord has called Christians to as they live and lead in their individual contexts. Throughout the NIV translation of the Bible, the words “serve”, “service”, and “servant” occur over one thousand times. The importance and necessity of serving others is reiterated throughout the Old and New Testament, and it is best exemplified in the life of Jesus. Two of my favorite passages, which are also the Scriptural foundation of how I aim to live my life, are Mark 10:45 and Philippians 2:3-8. Both of these passages provide beautiful examples of how Christ died for us, and how we should live for Him.
9. What does selflessness mean to you, and what role does it play in your work?
- Selflessness is something that I strive for every day, not just because of the importance that the Bible places on living selflessly, but because it has been proven as an integral part of effective leadership. The abundancy of Biblical principles that are the basis of many leadership theories leads me to another topic. In The Confessions of Saint Augustine, the early Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo (known more widely today as Saint Augustine) wrote, “For where I found truth, there found I my God, who is the Truth itself.” You may recognize a more modernized version of Augustine’s quote: “All truth is God’s truth.” The premise of that quote is that, as theologian R.C. Sproul writes, there is “a pursuit of God Himself in the pursuit of knowledge and of beauty . . . [as] God is the source of all truth and of all beauty.” As I read both Scripture and “secular” literature, I am often awestruck at how much of the leadership literature I read aligns with and has a foundation in Biblical truth.
10. What strategies do you use to dare to be you – to show up and let yourself be genuinely seen, all in, always choosing to do the right thing? Got an example of when it was really hard?
- To be quite honest, I do not have this elaborate “strategy” that I have crafted. Any success that I have had is truly God-given and no result of my own doing. God has gifted me with certain talents and abilities, and every day I try to use what He has given me for His glory and the advancement of the Kingdom. If I were to try to attempt to describe any “strategy” that I might have, is that I strive every day to be Kingdom minded, service oriented, and excellence driven. By Kingdom minded, I mean that everything that we do should be focused primarily on Christ and centered on His glorification above all else. When I speak of being service oriented, I am describing living our lives in a manner that is emulative of Christ in how we interact with others, always putting their needs above ours. Finally, when discussing being excellence driven, I am often reminded that, at the end of the creation story, God looked at all He made and said it was “very good”. I think that we should strive for excellence in all we do, as our God deserves nothing less. I also believe that the Lord is consistently molding us and shaping us into individuals who reflect Christ. That leads me to another point about leadership and spiritual development.
Proverbs 25:8 reads, “Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel.” When silver is removed from the ground, there are a number of impurities in the metal, such as dirt, rocks, and other elements. These impurities are referred to as “dross”. In order to purify the metal so that it might be used in the creation of various items, the silversmith uses a crucible to heat the silver to its melting point. Once the silver is melted, the impurities rise to the top, and the silversmith scrapes off the impurities. This process is repeated, over and over and over again, until the silver is purified. The silversmith knows that the purifying process is complete when his reflection can be seen in the silver.
What beautiful imagery that is! The Lord allows us to go through trials and tribulations in order to sanctify us, so that one day He might see His reflection when He looks at you and me. Knowing the meaning and purpose behind our trials will allow us to endure them with faith, tenacity, and grit. Psalm 119:71, Romans 5:3-5, and James 1:2-4 tell us that “it is good that [we are] afflicted”, direct us to “rejoice in our sufferings”, and instruct us that we should “count it all joy” when we experience trials. These crucible moments, as Bennis and Thomas describe such circumstances in their article “Crucibles of Leadership”, are instrumental as the Lord sanctifies us and conforms us to His Son’s image
11. Do you have a creed for living and loving with your whole heart?
- As with my other answers, it all points back to Scripture. We are called to love God and love others, regardless of who we are, what we are doing, or the circumstances in our lives. This is the easiest question to answer, because I can just point to Mark 12:30-31.
Thank you, Jacob, for sharing your thoughts & this moment with us!
Congratulations, DBU MBA-MAL Alumnus! We are all so very proud of you!
Call To Action:
1. Reach out to congratulate Jacob on Facebook!
2. Share words of inspiration by contacting Jacob at Howard Payne University, Jrohrer@hputx.edu or text 325-649-8000.
3. Let me know if I got the "best" 5 words to describe this amazing, godly young man listed at the top!