President Brian Mueller has talked often in recent years about why he believes God has accelerated Grand Canyon University’s stunning growth.
But, lately, he has come to a new conclusion.
“God is creating an unstoppable workforce,” he said Monday in the opening Chapel of the spring semester.
And that workforce isn’t just pastors. Or even teachers and nurses.
“Every vocation is equally honoring in God’s eyes,” he said.
Mueller began his talk by explaining why he speaks at Chapel every semester: He wants to honor the work God is doing at GCU.
That work, like most jobs, has evolved. Mueller’s first Chapel talk, 14 years ago, was delivered to about 100 students in Ethington Theatre. Monday, GCU Arena again was filled with a crowd of more than 6,000.
He pointed to the messages about work in the second book of Genesis, about how God worked to create the world (Genesis 2:3) …
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.
… And then created Adam for a very specific reason (Genesis 2:15):
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
“God didn’t create a finished product,” Mueller said.
But work can be frustrating. Work can be filled with failure. People often have difficulty working together.
It is for those reasons that the first 4,000 years chronicled in the Bible are filled, Mueller noted, with violence, destruction and a me-first attitude.
There hadn’t been much progress until Jesus arrived with two goals in mind: to be man’s salvation, and to be a blueprint for how to live … and work.
The fifth chapter of John displays some of the things He did, culminating in Verse 17 with this:
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute Him. In His defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.”
“Jesus was a heat-seeking missile in reverse,” Mueller said, explaining that He always was looking for circumstances where people felt broken.
That was a laborious, real-world task, and Jesus often spoke in easy-to-understand terms about the challenges He witnessed. In fact, Mueller said, 32 of the 37 parables are about the economy and work.
Man has worked to accomplish much more in the last 2,000 years, and Mueller believes the world can improve that much more if people would learn to work together more effectively.
But it starts with widely varied knowledge. The church has held itself back, Mueller said, by urging people to become pastors. Pastors are needed, of course. But so are other skill sets.
He was taken by the fact that a recent meeting about an important new project included a land developer, builders, an attorney, tax accountants and other professionals.
“In order to make that happen, we needed all of them,” he said, adding that 15 pastors couldn’t have done it on their own.
“If you’re studying law, we need you to become a Christian lawyer. If you’re studying engineering, we need you to be a Christian engineer. … All of you are called into sacred vocations. Those vocations are equally honoring in God’s eyes and are necessary to make the world a better place.”
Mueller also talked about another meeting, with city leaders to discuss recent public safety issues in GCU’s neighborhood. He wants to use the skills of GCU students and faculty to help – and was touched that those leaders looked to the local Christian university for assistance.
He wants the outside world to think of Christians in this way:
“That we’re always reaching out, that we’re always thinking about where there is brokenness, knowing that we live in a redeemed state,” he said. “And because of that redeemed state, we can work on identifying where there’s brokenness. We can work together, and we can work together to heal it. God has given us the capability to do that.”
But that work can be with anyone, including non-Christians.
“If there are people who don’t believe that Jesus is Messiah but they understand the brokenness and want to work with us, we’ll absolutely work with them,” he said. “Why? Because it’s probably our best witness to them.”
He has come to this conclusion about GCU’s mission:
“I think if I had to explain to people what’s going on here … I think that God is building an unstoppable workforce. I think that as this thing continues to get bigger and as you go through this experience and you graduate and you go out into the world, you’ll go out, I hope, with two things that will make you different.
“One, you’ll be looking for where the world is broken. And number two, you’ll work with other people in a way that reflects who Jesus was and produces real results.”
Results such as GCU CityServe, which, he said, has helped more than 7,500 families with more than $5 million of goods in the last 14 months. The volunteer workforce is largely GCU students, but more are always needed.
“This semester, the work is going to go on,” Mueller told the students in attendance. “And I hope that you’ll feel good about being here, about studying, about preparing for your life of work. And I hope that you’ll do it in the context of who Jesus was.”
And that, in a word, is unstoppable.
Contact Rick Vacek, Senior Manager for Internal Communications, at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].