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December 2022

Johnson melds ministry, management for successful career

When Robert Johnson’s pastor called him with an opportunity to preach at a local senior retirement home, he enthusiastically jumped at the chance. While it was his first official ministerial role after earning his Master of Christian Ministry degree with Wayland, it did reflect a lifetime of ministry that Robert has practiced both in his business vocation and as a layman in his church.

Earning the degree through WBU Online in 2020, Robert had spent a career in sales, primarily in the insurance industry. However, as a strong man of faith, Robert, who was licensed to ministry in 1987 and ordained in 1997, said his love for people led him to develop his own management style in the

Robert At The Oaks
Robert ministers at The Oaks center

business world.

“Six months in, I find myself teaching new people who came into the office how to do sales. I just had an empathy to help them,” says Robert. “The manager of the office came to me and offered me a position as training manger, and that put me into a different world. I then discovered it all came out of a desire to help people.”

It was quite contrary to the company procedures he said were “out of my lane,” heavy on intimidation and other tactics he said would not work. “But I went the other way and practiced my Christian ethics. I trusted the Lord, and He provided. I met with much success.”

In 1998, Robert graduated from University of Houston, and in 1999, he took his talents to American National Insurance, where he continued his sales success in that field. Pretty soon he caught the attention of his manager, who promoted him to frontline manager. Then he made a bold challenge: when she retired in a few years, he told her he wanted her job. She quickly learned he was a different kind of leader.

“She was from the old school method, and she was trying to push me to do the same,” he said. “I told her I would give her the production and results, but I wasn’t doing it that way. My group was successful.”

And Robert’s success paid off with promotions and moves to Oklahoma and then to Minnesota. Eight years after he left that first office, the manager called to announce she was retiring, and she wanted him to call and apply. He did and was moved to the District Manager position in Galveston, Texas, where he turned the struggling office around within his first year there.

While in Galveston, Robert also served as Mission leader and directed Mission Texas City, which collected food from local entities and distributes them to residents in need. He says it was a busy time on top of his full-time job in insurance, but all that work amounted to seeds planted and service for the glory of God.

In 2015, Robert and his wife, Deborah, moved to the Austin area and quickly plugged in at Crestview Baptist Church. He retired from in-office work in 2018, maintaining his broker’s license, but with his workload ramping down, Robert felt it was time to focus on something he really wanted.

Austin Alumni Event
Robert takes in an alumni event

Unlike someone who might pursue higher education degrees mainly for career advancement or job changes, Robert said his motivation for the Master of Christian Ministry was primarily for deepening his understanding of God through in-depth Bible study.

“The other reason for the MCM was for personal growth and to enrich myself in that way so I could be a more effective communicator and presenter of the gospel. I know the Gospel, but I wanted the panoramic-comprehensive view of it,” he said. “For me it was the most impactful educational experience toward that end. I was able to get the theology of the Bible from A to Z. What that has done for me is increase the effectiveness of what I am doing.”

Today, he is thrilled to put to use what he’s learned as the weekly preacher at The Oaks retirement center. Accompanied by a music leader, Gail, he loves building relationships with the senior residents and bringing the Bible to life. But it goes deeper as well. 

“I think the most important thing to me is bringing fellowship to them. That age group is in a place that is the lap of luxury, but they are often lonely. They can watch church on TV, but that is not as nurturing,” he said. “I think I’m presenting the Word of God in a vibrant way, developing fellowship and putting something back into their lives that mitigates their loneliness and brings them into community so they can lean on each other. I see it happen all the time just ministering to them and singing with them. It’s helping them establish community.”

Robert said he knows it is God who birthed this desire to help others and to teach, and he is appreciative of being able to use those gifts both in a traditional career and in his various ministry roles over the years. 

“I’ve come to realize that everything is spiritual. I don’t differentiate secular from spiritual anymore. God’s in everything,” he said. “If I have a gift, I’m going to use it in church, in the post office and market square and everywhere. I’m going to allow God to have His way in me. He can and does use all of us all the time. Being in connection with Him in that way is the way, isn’t it?”


Devotional: Iron sharpens iron

By Jeffrey Vera, Director of Alumni Relations

We seem to live in a society that greatly promotes individualism, and unfortunately, this can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. As human beings, we were not created to go through life alone. God created us to be in relationship with one another.

Iron Anvil

There are so many benefits to being in a loving, Christian community. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And 

let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Community allows all of us to build connections. Individuals that are closely associated with us, encourage and walk alongside, when we are going through trials, and we do the same for them. God is present when we gather in His name, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 19:20)

I encourage you and your family to become involved in a Christian community in this upcoming year. Whether through a church, a club within the city that you live in, or attending an alumni event. When we lift each other up and come together to live for Christ, we bring glory to His name.



In the mix

When it comes to establishing an identity, there are a lot of things that come to play:

How do you encompass the memories, experiences, relationships, and values that create one’s sense of self?

While identity can be aligned with an individual, it can also represent a student body.  Wayland Baptist University has gone through a transition when it comes to creating an identity. From being “jackrabbits” to later becoming “pioneers”, it takes a lot of alignment to make sure the student body is represented. As an alumnus, you may have been an excited 18-year-old, when you entered

Gathering At GatesMatador Hall or Jimmy Dean Hall for the first time; yet when you walked the stage to be handed your diploma, that you worked hard to obtain, hopefully you developed the identity, that you were meant to become.

By gaining purpose that defines who Wayland is and how you were shaped in growth as a former student, WBU continues to make a positive impact in a variety of career, volunteer, and organizational opportunities throughout the world. From Albuquerque, NM to Kijabe, Kenya, the WBU identity is far and wide. Therefore, the next time someone asks you if you attended college or a university; be excited to say, “I am Wayland Baptist University!”

Tell us a memory, experience, relationship, or value that you obtained while here at WBU.

(Email: veraj@wbu.edu)