Entrusted with a Calling
Christian Leadership Alliance President and CEO Tami Heim recently interviewed Dr. Mark Jobe, President of Moody Bible Institute on the theme of this edition of Outcomes, “Entrusted.” He will be a mainstage presenter at The Outcomes Conference 2023 in Chicago, which also features the theme “Entrusted.”
Dr. Jobe is Moody Bible Institute’s 10th president, a role he has held since Jan. 2, 2019. He believes in the power and fruitfulness of a Moody education, centered on the teaching of God’s Word. As Dr. Jobe considers the future of Moody’s education and media ministries, he looks to the example of founder D. L. Moody.
He is also the Senior and Founding Pastor of Chicago’s New Life Community Church. Dr. Jobe and his wife Dee have seen New Life grow from a handful of people to several thousand meeting at 27 locations with more than 40 worship services each weekend.
Dr. Jobe is also the founder of New Life Centers, a community-based organization that works with hundreds of at risk youth in Chicago.
He is the author of Unstuck: Out of Your Cave and Into Your Call (Moody Publishers, 2014) and the host of Bold Steps, a weekday program heard across Moody Radio’s nation-wide network of stations and by several million listeners internationally.
Dr. Jobe holds a diploma in Communications from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago (1984), a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies from Columbia International University, a Master of Arts in Ministry from Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago (1998), and a doctorate in Transformational Leadership for the Global City from Bakke Graduate University.
What does being “Entrusted” mean to you?
Cambridge dictionary defines “entrusted” this way – “it means to give someone a duty for which they are responsible.”
My mother and father, Bob and Minnie Jobe came to Jesus at a Youth for Christ rally in Gary, Indiana at the ages of 15 and 17. Almost immediately, they understood that they had been entrusted with the life-changing message of the gospel to be shared to the ends of the earth.
They were in their twenties, with two small boys, when they left this country and all that was familiar to them to share the gospel in Costa Rica, Chile and eventually Spain. In Chile, my father rode horseback to share the gospel in remote mountain villages, hard to get to by car. In Spain, we moved to a town of 130,000 people with no evangelical church. Our small church plant met in a horse stable. Our windows were broken, and our doors burned. Children were forbidden to play with us, and my father was interrogated multiple times by the secret police, all because my parents understood they were entrusted.
Now that city has hundreds of believers and multiple gospel preaching churches. Many pastors and leaders trace their spiritual genesis to the church that met in a horse stable. My 85-year-old mother still lives and serves in Northern Spain.
A Consuming Passion
Brennan Manning once mused that, “Leadership in the church is not entrusted to successful fund raisers, brilliant biblical scholars, administrative geniuses, or spellbinding preachers... but to those who have been laid waste by a consuming passion for Christ – passionate men and women for whom privilege, and power are trivial compared to knowing and loving Jesus.”
It means living with a call and a mission greater then ourselves...
My father is buried in a Spanish cemetery outside of the town he poured out his life to reach because he had a consuming passion for Christ and understood the power of being entrusted.
What does entrusted mean to me? It means living with a call and a mission greater then ourselves that leads us to live in extraordinary ways because we’ve been entrusted.
How does that perspective inform your approach to serving as president of Moody Bible Institute?
D.L. Moody was a simple man with enormous passion for the gospel of Jesus. It has been said that he presented the plan of salvation, by voice or pen, to at least 100 million people during his lifetime.
Moody Bible Institute, the school that Emma Dryer and D.L. Moody founded has continued that legacy of preparing men and women to live on mission for the gospel for 136 years in the heart of Chicago.
Four years ago, I stepped into the role of president of Moody after serving for many years as a pastor in the city. Like my parents, Bob and Minnie Jobe and like D.L. Moody, I feel both the weight and privilege of being entrusted with the message of the gospel for this generation.
How does Moody help its students embrace that with which they’re entrusted?
We start with the assumption that every student who is a follower of Jesus has a call upon their life, and has been entrusted with gifts and opportunities to live out their God-given purpose.
We view our job at Moody to help equip, train, root, sharpen and expose students to their calling.
We view our job at Moody to help equip, train, root, sharpen and expose students to their calling. Each student, regardless of their degree choice, is required to take a significant portion of Bible and Theology courses. We are convinced that every believer needs a worldview rooted in Scripture to undergird the integrity of their calling.
We also have deliberately stayed in the heart of downtown Chicago because the moment a student walks off campus they walk into a mission field. Each student is assigned a weekly Practical Christian Ministry (PCM). These ministry assignments expose students face to face to various types of ministries, needs and segments of the Chicagoland population.
You’re also entrusted with leading a dynamic Chicago-area church and centers to help youth. What lessons have you learned in founding missional organizations?
After graduating from Moody at the age of 21, I stepped into pastoring an inner-city church on the southwest side of Chicago that had 18 people. My salary was $8,000 a year, the building was run-down and there were gang members selling drugs on the church corner.
That church, by God’s grace, has grown now to well over 5,000 thousand people that meet at 27 Chicagoland locations with multiple international church plants and ministers face to face to about 7,000 people a week through programs and outreaches.
Our not-for-profit community-based organization called New Life Centers was birthed 17 years ago after I ran into one of our church youth who had dropped out of high school and had been shot in a gang altercation. As I cried out to God for our troubled youth the vision for a cycle-breaking center helping at risk youth was born. Now New Life Centers has a team of 85 people on staff mentoring and working with hundreds of youth who are incarcerated, gang affiliated or simply at risk because of the neighborhoods they live in.
Years ago, when the church was small we dared to pray that we would impact one percent of the city of Chicago (30,000 people) through our witness. During the pandemic, I discovered that our church and Centers were feeding 30,000 people a week throughout seven locations and hundreds of volunteers.
Here are the top 10 lessons I have learned in starting missional organizations:
- God enjoys using the small and the weak to accomplish his great and powerful purposes.
- To walk ahead of God indicates pride and self-reliance, to walk too far behind indicates fear and doubt, to walk in step requires surrender and trust.
- Never underestimate the power of passionate and persistent prayer and fasting
- God promises resistance to the proud and arrogant, but flows in grace-filled favor to the humble of heart.
- The more we are willing to release the more room we make for increase.
- Your harvest is in direct proportion to the number of seeds you sow and the stewardship of the harvest you reap.
- Choose your inner circle carefully and invest in that team consistently and generously.
- Guard carefully what you allow to linger near your heart because your legacy is determined by it.
- We will always have needs but we must battle the impulse of taking on a needy mindset.
- The ministry belongs to God, so he gets both the glory and the weight of ownership.
As you will notice, each of these 10 lessons has little to do with skill and strategy and everything to do with mindset and spiritual disposition.
In your book Unstuck you highlight Elijah’s story. What is the key to getting “unstuck” when it comes to pursuing our calling?
I consider the “Divine Pause” followed by the “Divine Whisper” the key to getting unstuck.
Elijah, like many leaders, seemed high powered and unstoppable when he was in his prime and on mission. He brazenly holds his ground in front of more than 800 false prophets. He calls fire down from heaven and seems to walk closely with God. Then, suddenly he spirals downward. He finds himself isolated, disillusioned, tired, literally suicidal, and running from his call. From Elijah’s story, I have identified seven sticking points that affected him and continue to affect leaders today.
Seven Common Sticking Points:
- Isolated Living
- Distorted Thinking
- Impaired Hearing
- Warped Identity
- Neglected Issues
- Blurred Calling
- Deferred Beginnings
After a 40-day journey into the desert, Elijah ends up in a dark cave. God asks him a soul-searching question: “What are you doing here Elijah?” In the quiet pause of the shadowy cave, God finally gets Elijah’s attention only then is he ready to lean into the “Divine Whisper.”
When Elijah is ultimately ready to listen, God tells him three things to get him unstuck: First, he tells him to stop running and start facing his fears. Second, he tells him to release what is not his to carry to others who are capable, and third he reminds Elijah that he has a battle plan even if Elijah cannot see it.
Today the “Divine Whisper” empowered by the Word and the Holy Spirit is just as powerful when we lean in to listen. However, unless you take a “Divine Pause” to reflect and listen you will most likely not hear the whisper that can get you unstuck.
Many pastors and leaders are running at high speeds with the volume of life blaring, and have made little space or time to quiet their souls and lean into the divine whisper.
How would you encourage other leaders in embracing God’s calling on their lives?
More leaders have considered quitting or transitioning in the last two years than any time in our lifetime. Leading has been more complicated and challenging on many levels.
Paul tells his young apprentice Timothy, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:6-7)
During difficult seasons, times of crisis, times of transition, times of key leaders exiting, times of criticism, times of disillusionment, times of discouragement, times of doubting our calling, times of unmet expectations, it is easy to be gripped by a spirit of fear.
I remind leaders that they have the gifts to match their calling, but they have to fan the flame. Fear and anxiety will deprive the flame of calling from its oxygen. The Spirit of God comes with a fresh infusion of power, love and self-discipline for our divine calling.
D.L. Moody said, “When I was a young Christian, I thought that God kept his gifts on shelves and the best gifts were on the highest shelves and would have to reach up. I learned later the best gifts are on the lowest shelf and I had to stoop down.”
To learn more, please visit moody.edu.