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President’s Postscript | On Success


by President J. Derek Halvorson ’93

 

As you can see in this issue of View, we are currently celebrating the success of the recently completed BUILD Campaign—an 8-year comprehensive campaign that saw Covenant alumni and friends provide over $58 million in gift support to the College. This total exceeded the overall campaign objective of $53 million, and we surpassed goals in each of the component parts of the campaign as well.

 

Exceeding our objectives over the last eight years, in one of the more trying economic climates in our country’s history, is testament to God’s generosity, channeled through the faithful and often sacrificial giving of those who love and support Covenant College. In times of celebration like this, it can be tempting to think that we have been successful—or rather, that we can measure our success by the number and size of donations that come through our door, or by the number of well-appointed buildings on our campus. When that temptation arises, I am often drawn back to one of my favorite passages of Scripture: Genesis 5.

 

Genesis 5, in case you do not remember, is a genealogy. More specifically, it is the genealogy of Adam. It is one of those passages that you might be inclined to skip over when reading through the Bible. It seems formulaic, and repetitive … and it is, with at least one telling exception. In Genesis 5, every person listed lives, fathers children, lives some more, and then dies. The one exception to this pattern is found in verses 21-24, where Enoch lives 65 years, fathers Methuselah, and then “walks with God” for another 300 years. Verse 24 tells us that “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” The natural inclination is to think that Enoch must have done something great in order to be taken up by God. But what does the passage suggest?

 

I spoke on this passage in chapel last April, and asked students the question, What made Enoch “successful” or “notable” in the eyes of God? I think it is telling that Scripture does not tell us that Enoch did anything remarkable in the eyes of the world—like become CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or president of ancient Mesopotomia. Nor does Scripture tell us if Enoch did anything remarkable for the kingdom of God—like pastor a huge, ancient Near Eastern mega-church. What Genesis 5 tells us is that Enoch “walked with God.” That seemingly little thing—walking with God—was what made Enoch notable, was what made him remarkable.

 

As we consider Covenant’s “success” in the BUILD Campaign, it is important for us to remember that, while big fundraising numbers and new buildings and expanded endowments are nice, and are important for our ongoing ability to do the work that God has called us to, they are not the ultimate measure of success for us. If we have those things, but are not faithful—if we have not walked with God—then we have failed. Even as we celebrate God’s blessings on our community through the generosity of our supporters, I pray that we will continue to measure our ultimate success not in bricks or dollars or numbers, but in faithfulness to the Christ-honoring, kingdom-minded walk to which He has called us.