September 16, 2013
PLAINVIEW — Wayland Baptist University is continuing an emphasis on civility that began last fall with a charge of University President Dr. Paul Armes. In the fall of 2012, Dr. Armes challenged faculty, staff and students to make choices based on civil behavior.
In a follow-up to the President’s message, a special spring chapel service was held at which time students were broken into small groups to discuss civility with faculty and staff representatives. Those group discussions prompted feedback that was used to craft a University Civility Statement.
The emphasis on civility has carried over into the 2013-14 academic year as Wayland continues to stress the importance of civil behavior to students, faculty and staff throughout the university. On Wednesday, a special chapel service will be held featuring vignettes performed by students to illustrate situations where people behave in an uncivilized manner toward each other. These vignettes will be followed by faculty responses to the situations. The fall chapel service will be followed by a special spring service that will focus on positive civil behavior, along with faculty responses.
Wayland Baptist University Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Bobby Hall said the civility emphasis is extremely important to the life of the university.
“We believe at Wayland that our role is to not only educate students academically, but also holistically, and we also are called upon to look at ourselves,” Hall said. “If we look at American society today, we have seen an increase in behavior that is unacceptable. That isn’t limited to students; it’s all of us.”
Wednesday’s chapel content is being organized by Dr. Marti Runnels, Dean of the School of Fine Arts. He said that when he originally met with students about the idea, he was shocked at how open and honest his theatre students were during the discussion. One of those students is Lillie Cooper, a sophomore music major from Lubbock.
“In a lot of the things we do on a regular basis, we don’t think about it, but we are so rude sometimes and we don’t consider it,” Cooper said.
Cooper said the original discussion about content turned to specific examples, everything from more widely recognized acts of incivility to somewhat simpler things such as being rude to the people who work in the cafeteria.
“We were so shocked when we really thought about it, but things like being nice to the maintenance workers, cafeteria workers and groundskeepers,” Cooper said. “They are people. They do something that is really important. If they weren’t here, we’d be sorry.”
Along with the targeted chapel content, Wayland has posted signage around campus to keep civility in the forefront of peoples’ thoughts. Posters bearing a Listen-Think-Pray theme have been posted around campus.
Each poster includes a scripture reference to Biblical passages from the book of James that deal with that particular issue. The Think poster uses James 1:19-20 as its reference, stating “My brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
The scripture chosen for the Think emphasis is James 3: 17-18: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
The final scripture reference is James 5:15-16 that says: “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Hall said the message has been well-received across campus and Wayland will continue to make civility a priority for the school. Cooper agreed, saying it is important for students to behave in a civil manner if they ever hope to achieve their goals once they leave school.
“Your track record speaks for itself,” she said.
“What I saw were people who had love, who had peace, who were content,” Mike said. “I knew that whatever it is, whatever it was that they had, I wanted some of that.”
After the event Mike told Chris that he wanted to know more about Jesus. Over the next several months Chris and Mike spent hours talking about God and working their way through the Bible. Mike got involved in church and in a small group. But his walk had only begun.
“My moral compass had changed, but I held on to one thing. One thing I just wasn’t willing to give up. I still decided that I could go ahead and drink as much as I wanted to,” Mike said.
Mike’s decision and change of heart led to a divorce from his second wife. Still, he turned to alcohol and it wasn’t until he was arrested for DUI two weeks after the Saints Super Bowl win that he truly turned his life over to God.
“I said I was a Christian but I wasn’t acting like a Christian. What I failed to do was totally surrender,” Mike said.
On Feb. 20, 2010, Mike totally surrendered. He gave up his final addiction and hasn’t had a drink since.
Mike told the captive audience that he would love to say his life changed immediately and everything was perfect and everyone lived happily ever after, but that hasn’t been the case. When his bosses found out about the DUI, he lost his corporate job, and family members refuse to believe that he has truly changed. But through it all, he and Chris have been able to use their story to spread the gospel.
“It’s crazy to think how the decision I made at 17 years old could impact a family,” Chris said. “It’s not because of what I did, but because of what God did through me.”