Recently I was talking with a mentor who is familiar with our work at the University of Texas and some of the difficulty we were having maintaining vision due to turnover in leadership.  He shared a great illustration with me that has been an encouragement.

Rocket Science

He described how when flying a rocket, pilots intentionally allow the rocket to move off course because they know they can redirect the rocket with short bursts of the engine.  It is impossible to keep the rocket on course all the time because the engine would burn out.  So they simply let it drift and then bring it back on course with short bursts.

Before hearing this illustration,  I was under the impression that we had taken several steps back on a few specific united initiatives.  Now, however, I see it as more of a step sideways.  We just need another nudge in the right direction.  Sometimes going off course even brings clarity to where we really want to go.

Another Pilot’s Perspective

Two weeks ago we gathered ministry leaders at the University of Texas for a day of prayer and planning to determine where we had gone off course and what burst was needed to get back on course.  What one of the pastors wrote me afterward was a confirmation of the rocket illustration.

” I wanted to let you know how much I have been personally impacted by your commitment and sacrifice to the University of Texas for the advancement of the gospel.  You have been an example of perseverance and steadfastness to the calling God has on your life. Our ministries and our campus have been greatly blessed by your leadership.  The unity that exists among all of us is very unusual and it is due to your diligence.  I believe God is full of joy when he looks at the collective “church” at the University of Texas.

It seems we are just experiencing what every church and organization go through as they mature: 1) we need to be reminded of our vision that we are all passionate about and 2) the tweaking of strategy to accomplish our goals.   Justin, thank you for your leadership. My prayer is that we can continue to support you as you have supported all of us.”

Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the misssonal community movement at the University of Texas.