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Corey's Corner: a new year's zeal

It’s a new day at Biola. Not only is it the start of a new year, but it’s the beginning of a new era in our history. Look around you as you walk to class and what do you see? Tractors? A grass-less Metzger lawn? “Hard Hat Zone” signs? The distinct smell of fertilizer? Okay, so maybe these aren’t all immediately inspiring. But they are signs of Biola University’s progress and growth, and when I look out my window and see the campus buzzing with students alongside construction workers, I’m energized anew to imagine what our future holds.

This fall, as I begin my fourth year, I’m more excited than ever to see students (both undergraduate and graduate) back on campus to start a new year. I’m excited to welcome two new senior administrators to my leadership team — Provost and Senior Vice President David Nystrom and Vice President for Financial and Business Affairs Michael Pierce — and I’m excited for all sorts of initiatives and events coming down the pike this semester at Biola. “U.S. News and World Report” recently named Biola University one of 28 “Up and Coming” national universities, an affirmation that confirms what I know to be true of Biola — that we are a university on the rise, firmly committed to education that is both biblically centered and academically rigorous, innovative and ambitious in ways that are causing others to take notice.

In convocation chapel last week, I spoke about the importance of zeal – of being a community that embodies a deep, abiding zeal for God and for all we set our minds to in his service. In Romans 12:11, Paul writes, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” This is my hope for all Biola students, faculty, and staff this year. I pray that we would be zealous for the Lord and fervent in his service.

If we are to make a mark on the world with our lives, if we are to be discontent squandering our time and just getting by, then we need a dose of that deep, Spirit-fueled zeal that will not only take us deeper into Christ, but will compel us to serve. This zeal should include both our passion for Christ and our desire to learn, coupling the soul and the mind because, as Proverbs 19:2 tells us, “It’s not good to have zeal without knowledge.” Zeal without knowledge is dangerous in that it leads to ignorance. Knowledge without zeal is dangerous in that it leads to arrogance. As you start a new year, my simple advice to you is to watch your zeal and your knowledge closely, and to be balanced in heart and mind.

I sense the excitement these days, here at the start of a new year at Biola. But as with everything, the excitement will eventually wane. The stresses, pressures and struggles to simply stay afloat will for many of you make you feel everything but zeal. But my prayer for this community is that you’ll know a zeal that isn’t about temporary enthusiasm or momentary excitement. True zeal goes deep. It is abiding, unshakeable and able to overcome the natural temptation toward despair and malaise.

May this sort of zeal be a constant in your time at Biola, and in the rest of your life.

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