Today’s “shout out” goes to one of the most influential people in my life, Jay Kesler. Jay was the President of Taylor University while I was a student there. This could be a very long post, but I will scale it down to just a few of the contexts in which Jay molded me over those years.

Chapel Talks – Jay is a great communicator. He is one of the greatest masters of analogy that I have heard. But like any truly great speaker – Jay’s base is great content. Jay’s talks in our chapel services were packed full of powerful one liners. These are some statements from Jay that I hope I never forget. Furthermore, I hope that these statements will define my life – “Nothing will crawl out from under a rock and swallow up the true God,” “Being a Christian school does not mean that we just hold hands and sing songs all day,” “Revival without service is just spiritual masturbation,” “God gave us brains and God wants us to use them.” “Fanaticism is not too much God, it is too little brains,” “Live life for an audience of One.”

Class – Jay taught one class while I was at Taylor, Ministry to Youth. It was an amazing opportunity to learn from one of the most influential people in that field for two decades. More than a “bag of tricks” approach, Jay taught us about thoughtful biblical engagement with culture. He told us that he watched MTV two hours a week in order to understand culture! I will never forget Jay’s lectures on the Neo-Evangelical movement in which explained how Evangelicals emerged out of American Fundamentalism as a group that embraced both Christian Orthodoxy (belief, morality & spirituality) and meaningful engagement with the world (culture, arts, academy & physical needs). I knew that was the kind of Christian that I wanted to be.

Mentoring Group – A small group of us had the opportunity to meet with Jay a few times each month to eat TOPPIT, watch movies, and talk about faith, culture and life. Those were amazing evenings of discussion, laughter, learning and building life long friendships. It was an amazing opportunity to learn from Jay (and Janie’s) wisdom. Beyond the wealth of insights on ministry, faith and culture, I remember their insights on life. It was helpful for a group of starry eyed idealists to have a mentor, who had a “change the world” kind of career, tell us that a meaningful life was more about core relationships than it was about work (even when you call work ministry).

Thanks for investing in us Jay! This post only scratches the surface of the ways that you have changed my life.