CIU President and African American Leaders “Go Deeper” at Retreat

CIU President Dr. Mark Smith (center) meets with CIU African-American leaders at retreat.
January 06, 2021

In anticipation of a new year, Columbia International University Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Andre Rogers asked CIU President Dr. Mark Smith to “go deeper” with some of CIU’s African American leaders at an early January leadership retreat.

Smith graciously accepted the opportunity and was eager to be a part of the spiritual growth. He encouraged the leaders to open their hearts to what the Spirit would do over the two-day retreat in Galax, Virginia. Using his book “Leading Change in Your World,” Smith covered topics concerning leadership character, calling, competency, and confidence in God, just to name a few.

He also introduced Dr. Kurt Lewin’s ideas of the “Process of Change coupled with styles of leadership such as Coercive Leadership, Authoritative Leadership, and Coaching Leadership. The knowledge presented by Smith encouraged the leaders to self-reflect and work efficiently while following God’s will.

Next, Smith shared how to move from being a “status quo manager to a status go leader.” When leaders have little discipline or urgency, things will not get done. He encouraged the leaders to read regularly and write daily. Leaders seek out as much knowledge as possible and influential people to mentor them. He also inspired the leaders to invest economically little by little so that over time they can take care of their families and give generously to the Kingdom.

At the personal level, Smith spoke about the benefits of transitioning from giving service to producing product. Leaders actively work toward improvement daily and begin projects with the future in mind.

Attendees were also given the opportunity to encourage the leaders to think deeper about the leader they are striving to be. Pastor Andre T. Melvin, director of the CIU Prison Initiative, shared a devotional thought from 1 Kings 19 asking the group “Why Are You Here?” James McCall, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and director of Christian Service Learning, spoke about love and truth from Proverbs 3:1-9. The Rev. David Spivey, pastor of Haven of Rest Bible Church in Galax, challenged the group to follow Jesus’ example of a grace and truth-filled life and ministry.

“You don’t realize you need this until you get this,” said Pastor Travien Capers, CIU’s assistant director of Spiritual Formation, referring to the content knowledge from the retreat.

Pastor David Finklea, assistant director of the CIU Prison Initiative, said he left the retreat feeling, “Inspired, informed, and encouraged.”

The retreat was a great success that will benefit the African American leaders at CIU for years to come.

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