Down-to-earth leaders

Have any of my columns started with Mexican food?

No? Alright then, let’s start with that.

I ordered Roadrunner at Green Hall the other day. I had my usual bowl (basically clicking every option I can on the screen, then receiving a mound of beans and corn pico and iceberg lettuce). I didn’t have to wait very long before I got my food, and I was on my merry way back to the Champion with my lovely-smelling Mexican food.

Balancing my hot aluminum bowl in one hand, sipping my soda in the other, and jamming to some tunes in an ear, I barely even noticed my surroundings.

Then, as I turned a corner, I looked up, and I noticed a familiar face. It was President Dondi Costin cruising down the halls.

The president was walking ahead of me in the same direction I was going to get back to the office, so — at the cost of sounding super creepy — I watched Costin interact with many of the students as he passed them by in the halls.

He asked one student what she had in her bag. “A tripod,” she replied casually as she walked by. But I got to see something that the president never saw. I saw this student’s face light up as she whispered excitedly to her friend that she had just been spoken to by the president of Liberty University.

Another student passed by, and Costin asked her how her day was going. She was thrown off guard, and her answer was quick. Once they passed each other, her smiling mouth dropped down, agape at how neat it was to briefly speak to Costin.

I ended up walking past the president because he took the time to stop and have a conversation with yet another student.

A large smile ran across my face as I considered the kindness of our president. I know many more stories from friends where Costin has talked with them, encouraged them or even remembered their names.

My day has even been brightened by the president before. He stops into the Liberty Champion office frequently just to say hello and encourage us to keep up the good work. Once, Avery (our amazing B-section designer) and I got the chance to chat with him about different Bible translations.

And while I could spend the entire column talking about how cool I think our new president is, I’ll refrain, because that would get kind of boring.

Seeing and experiencing all these sweet encounters with Liberty’s president got me thinking: If we feel this way when our Liberty president greets us in the halls, then gosh, why do we take it for granted when the God of the universe wants to say hello?

In the book of Colossians, Paul references the absolute authority, glory and power of Jesus Christ. In Colossians 1:15-20, Jesus is described as “the image of the invisible God,” “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead” and “preeminent”; Paul says that the fullness of God “was pleased to dwell” in Christ Jesus.

There is no doubt that the authority given to Christ is beyond any earthly authority or glory ever granted by God. In the next chapter, Paul focuses on the humanness of Jesus: “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (2:9).

Jesus Christ — God himself, the very definition of glory and power — came down in the flesh to be with his people. Not only to be with them, but Christ also suffered and died for his people.

A quality we want in leaders is for them to be down-to-earth. Why do we want this in a good leader? Because we don’t want to follow someone who doesn’t understand what we go through.

The author of Hebrews explains how Jesus relates to us: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he (Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (2:14). The author also makes it clear that Jesus was “tempted as we are, yet without sin” (4:15).

Through both temptation and the other everyday flesh-and-blood crud we have to deal with, Jesus knows what it’s like. He is the perfect leader because he understands our sufferings, and he was willing to lay down his life to show us his incredible humility.

How often do we think of Jesus like this? Jesus, the God of the universe, walked among us, experienced what we experience, died as we all will eventually. He is, quite literally, the most down-to-earth guy we could ever follow as a leader.

As we approach Thanksgiving, and as Christmas is trailing right behind, there’s a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for a God who would step down to meet me where I’m at. I am thankful that God manifested himself as a baby boy. I am thankful for my Lord, the great leader and shepherd of my little sheep brain.

I’m also thankful for our president and how down-to-earth he is. Costin sets a good example for how leaders ought to interact with those they oversee. It seems clear to me that Costin’s learned from the best (that is, Jesus).

I encourage us all to pray for those in charge, asking God that they exude Christlikeness and lead with humility, grace and truth.

Gilmer is the opinion editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on X

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *