Well, I’m cleaning out my desk. You know, it’s a bit harder than I thought it would be. That must be in part because, I confess, I find it hard to throw things away and in 25 years I’ve stowed away quite a lot. But, take heart, I’ll get it done and these beautiful walls of book shelves will be ready for you.
This room is packed with memories. Our home is as well. What warm and blessed surroundings they have been. I don’t pretend that they are easy to leave. But, of course, they never belonged to us in the first place. Helene and I were fortunate, oh so fortunate, to have lived and worked here for these years.
This is an extraordinary community that has called you to be its leader. You know this. So many times I have felt affirmed and supported, even when what I was doing was risky or maybe, in their minds, not the best decision. And I have seen how this support is expressed in so many ways. Just last week at the hospital with students and staff, there to support a family whose son had been injured. We have been a part of so many of those sacred moments. Or the support given our faculty and staff members when their families face real tragedies. The body of Christ in action is a wonder to behold.
Stan, I want to say this very clearly: my confidence in these next years for this wonderful college called Westmont is based in significant degree on my high estimate of you and Judy. They don’t come any better than you two.
You have chosen to be a person of great integrity, and your commitment to Christ is so healthy and authentic. Your experience in higher education is superb, as dean of students as well as dean of faculty. You can articulate the distinctive mission of Westmont better than anyone I know. You work so well with people, and provide strong leadership without any sense of an authoritarian style. The response of the Westmont community should reassure you about your colleagues here on campus. You have a very strong mandate, and a wealth of support.
You are not receiving some sort of legacy from me; it is the heritage and vision of Westmont that you are receiving, and it goes back long before my time. You will have the opportunity to influence the experience of thousands of truly precious young men and women, and all the organizational and even personal goals you may have will be directed toward them. What a calling.
You and I have a great and very special bond. It’s a pretty big job. In fact, of course, none of us are equal to the task. But we have a big God, who is able to do far more than we could ask or imagine, as we acknowledge our need for Him. And be confident of this, that the One who has called you will sustain you.
Meanwhile, I have got to get back to this job of sorting, tossing and keeping.
I love you, Stan.