Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Tale of Two Presidents

The CBF Leadership Team is meeting in Little Rock this week (this team includes state and regional coordinators as well as national coordinators). We spent some time today learning about two presidents. One is Dr. Fitzgerald Hill, president of Arkansas Baptist College, the only historic black Baptist college west of the Mississippi (founded in 1884). Dr. Hill spoke to our group this morning and hosted us for lunch on campus. The other president we had the opportunity to consider was Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States, as we visited the Clinton Presidential Center and Library.

Hill, a former football coach, has a vision not only to revitalize a formerly declining institution, but to raise up a new generation of male African-American leaders. A committed father, he has rearranged his priorities to place his family first. He is a believer who is committed to challenging young men to grow mentally, spiritually, and physically. He presents his vision clearly, with fervor, and with faith. He is already seeing results as enrolment grows, financial resources are procured, and partners are coming alongside. CBF of Arkansas and Millard Fuller are partnering with ABC to make this happen. I think it will!

Clinton, a poor Arkansas boy who used his drive and savvy to rise to the highest elected office in the land, is a tragic figure. He was raised on the Bible as a Southern Baptist, and he can still "talk the talk" when he is in a church pulpit better than any other Democrat alive. I accept that he has repented of his foolish personal behavior while President and I sincerely think that history will treat him kindly as both a national and world leader. There is much about him that I admire. Even so, as I walked through the Clinton Center, I was burdened with thoughts of the opportunities wasted and what might have been.

Two leaders. Two challenges. Both believers. But choices do matter.

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