Purpose – Why I do What I do

March 31, 2016 | Posted in Education, Faith, Leadership, Purpose | By

Each Tuesday afternoon we have a meeting in the International Affairs division at Dallas Baptist University. The purpose of this meeting is to Encourage, Inspire, Pour Into, and Enable our teams in their leadership and their individual purposes within our division. We call this meeting the Purpose & Leadership meeting. This past Tuesday, I shared with the group my personal convictions and beliefs about Purpose.


Reflecting on this past meeting, I also wanted to share with you “Why I do What I do”. I have always felt that in order to do something meaningful, you need to know the motivations or purpose beforehand. As an example for your leadership, I truly desire to share part of the “purpose” journey God has brought me on. I pray it is helpful for you who may be on this same journey now. There are three major areas (The Gospel, My Doctorate, Leading at the Christian University) that I would like to highlight for you in regards to the purpose and motivations behind “Why I do What I do”.

The Gospel

First and foremost, I have highly personally experienced the grace and love of God though our savior Jesus Christ. As a Christian, we refer to this as “The Gospel.” My life has been transformed as a response to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I have in turn given my life to relentlessly follow Jesus. I see that following Jesus is much more than simply knowing in my mind that He died on the cross for my sins, regular church attendance, or a set of rules to follow. Following Jesus is living his teachings, following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and waiting expectantly for his return. By living Jesus’s teaching, I have been led to an understanding of my purpose in life, as well as given a burden heart to serve others.

I believe that in the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have a purpose in an epic and cosmic plan. I believe this purpose is God revealing and reconciling all things to him, which is the greatest cause known to man. For these purposes, I have greater meaning and more fulfillment than anything I can ever hope to know or achieve on my own. I believe that each of us are called or purposed by God in this same plan, but that we need to follow Jesus before that can be made known to us. In a practical way, I see the purposes of Jesus penetrating all aspects of my life including my job, which I would refer to as a “calling.”

My Doctorate

Second, and through my doctoral program, I have encountered a strong understanding for how “purpose” contributes to organizational leadership. As an example Burns (1978)  describes this very well in the transformational leadership theory of inspirational motivation. I consider purpose to be a clear understanding for how one makes meaning out of their life, and how this meaning becomes valuable for a cause, for others, and for oneself. Once known, purpose acts as a guiding light and rocket fuel for one’s life or calling.

I believe that great leadership begins with a strong purpose in life (Craig & Snook, 2014; Joshi, Marzalek, Berkel & Hinshaw, 2013; Christensen, 2010; Pink, 2009; Frankl, 1958) and a strong alignment of that purpose to a timeless cause or vision (Kanter, 2011; Mourkogiannis, 2007; French, 2006). Furthermore, I find that exceptional leaders can enable others to pursue a timeless vision or cause by leading from a strong sense of purpose (Csikszentmihalyi, 2003; Brandt, 2003; Boyatzis, McKee & Goleman, 2002; Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1997; Burns, 1978), and it is the result of a strong purpose, and its alignment to timeless vision (or cause), that enables incredible impact on the organization and for those it serves (Kanter, 2011; Mourkogiannis, 2007; Collins & Porras, 1994).

Leading at the Christian University

Third, to help me remember what my purpose is, I have developed a purpose statement. I believe that my purpose in life is to “Model the example of Jesus Christ in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord for my family and circles of influence. I will consistently serve others by helping them to find their purpose, excel in their callings, and grow in their relationship with God.” 

This purpose statement embodies the Christian values that I hold most important, and is the way I make meaning of my life, bring value to others, and serve a greater cause. I believe that my purpose in life is best served at the Christian University. As I continue to study the concepts of Organizational Leadership, behavior and theory, I am learning to a greater extent how to successfully hire the right people, put them in the right place, and develop them to believe in and accomplish the purpose of Jesus at the Christian University.

I most identify with what Zigarelli (2012) called the interrelated missions or aims of the Christian University; which are to Train, Transform, and Transition students. By serving as a senior administrator, I am passionately motivated to lead the Christian University into the accomplish this mission. I believe that apart from Christ, higher education does not hold the transformational affect and powerful impact to the world and to the students it serves. In addition, I believe that the future landscape of higher education will change in the years to come. I desire to equip and lead the Christian University through perhaps what could be challenging days ahead. I am particularly interested in advancing the Christian University’s capabilities for administration, international development, and international student recruitment.

It is the gospel resulting from my experience with Jesus, which now gives me a burden heart to serve others. My purpose in life is grounded in the cause of Christ, which fuels my personal leadership philosophy and drives my life and calling. In these ways, I would not consider myself to be just a transformational leader at the Christian University, but a Christian educator who is called to be an “admissionary.” For me at the Christian University, the transformation we are working on does not encompass only efficiencies and effectiveness gained, degrees conferred or jobs attained, but in lives transformed, purposes found, callings excelled, and Jesus Christ made know to others through the work we do!

This is “Why I do What I do”.

– Grey Hoff, Jr.




Bartlett, C. A., and S. Ghoshal., (1997). Beyond Strategy, Structure, Systems to Purpose, Process, People: Reflections on a Voyage of Discovery. Monash Mt. Eliza Business Review 1, no. 1 (September 1997): 54–61.

Brandt, J. R. (May 01, 2003). Managing For A Higher Purpose. Industry Week/iw, 252,5.)

Boyatzis, R., McKee, A., & Goleman, D. (2002). Reawakening your passion for work. Harvard Business Review, 80(4), 86-94.

Burns JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Christensen, C. M. (2010). How will you measure your life? Harvard Business Review, 88(7), 46-51.

Craig N, S. S. (2014). From purpose to impact: Figure out your passion and put it to work. Harvard Business Review, 92(5), 104-11.

Collins, J.C., & Porras, J.L. (1994). Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2003). Good Business: Leadership, flow, and the making of meaning. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Frankl, V. E. (1958). On logotherapy and existential analysis. Am J Psychoanal the American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 18(1), 28-37.

French, M. L. (2006). The alignment between personal meaning and organizational mission among music executives: A study of happiness, job satisfaction, and responsibility toward employees.

Hirsh, S. K., and Kummerow, J. M. (1998). Introduction to Type Organization: Individual Interpretive Guide (3rd ed.). Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.

Kanter, R. M. (2011). How great companies think differently. Harvard Business Review, 89, 11.)

Mourkogiannis, N.,. (2007). Purpose: The starting point of great leadership. LTL Leader to Leader, 2007(44), 26-32

Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

Zigarelli, M. (2012). Training, Transforming, and Transitioning: A Blueprint for the Christian University. Journal of Research on Christian Education, 21: 32-79, 2012.

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Reflections from Washington, D.C. Visit

May 31, 2015 | Posted in Education, Leadership, Professional Development | By

This past week I had the opportunity to spend one-week with our Doctor of Education cohort in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. This trip was truly a remarkable experience that encouraged me to grow in both my professional and spiritual understandings of leadership and public policy. Specifically, there were three experiences during this trip that I wanted to share:

American Council for Trustees and Alumni (ACTA)

On Thursday, May 28th I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the American Council for Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). The ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at American’s colleges and universities. Over the past 10 years, there have been a number of papers and research developing on the topic of higher education accreditation reform. It is my view that the ACTA has written two of the most influential papers on this topic: Can College Accreditation Live Up to It’s Promise? (2002) and Why Accreditation Doesn’t Work and What Policymakers Can Do About It (2007). In light of this research, the purpose of my visit to ACTA was to discuss higher education accreditation and to see how they consider accreditation reform will continue to develop in the future.

At the ACTA, I was able to visit with Dr. Michael B. Polikoff, Vice President of Policy. From my conversation with Dr. Polikoff, he outlined a few key points of why ACTA believes higher education accreditation needs to be actively reformed:

  • Higher education accreditation gives a facade of quality with its “stamp of approval”. When in fact, there are some accredited schools with abysmal graduation rates, sky-rotting debt for their students, and poor academic programming. Yet, just like Harvard, Pepperdine, or DBU, who all have wonderful programs, there are still poor schools which are accredited.
  • Higher education accreditors are considered to be the “gatekeeper” of federal financial aid funds for universities. Schools who are not accredited are not able to receive these funds for their students. This gives accreditors tremendous power to dictate what goes in terms of performance, programs, and requirements at these schools.
  • Higher education accreditors have a monopoly on their regions and their schools. This monopoly makes it very difficult or near impossible for universities to change to another (potentially better) accreditation agency. Schools are forced to follow the accreditation process for their accreditations with little or no question.
  • Higher education accreditors is stifling education innovation, prohibiting all together, or making it extremely difficult for universities to experiment with other education models such as competency based education.

Dr. Polikoff further discussed two primary recommendations that ACTA is advocating for in higher education accreditation reform:

  • Break the “gatekeeper” role that accreditors have for federal financial aid funds. The availability of Title IV funds should not be determined by accreditors, but by better measurable outcomes from the schools such as graduation rates, job placement rates, financial health measures, etc.
  • Create competition for higher education accreditors. Allow schools to shop for and select a higher education accreditor, regardless of their region. This will allow schools to create competition for accreditors, and voluntary select their accreditation agency.

In summary, Dr. Polikoff expressed that by severing the financial aid “gatekeeper” role, and creating competition for accreditors, only the agencies which stood for quality, real evidence for student learning, and required strong measures of financial health in schools, would be able to thrive. Furthermore, if institutions voluntary wanted to seek accreditation from agencies that are well respected for their standards, they could do that. However, Dr. Polikoff and ACTA believe that this should not be a requirement for schools to do in order to measure quality and receive financial aid funds.

Senate Chaplain Reverend Dr. Barry Black

On Friday morning, May 29th I visited the Office of the Reverend Dr. Barry Black. Dr. Black as the Chaplain of the United States Senate. As Chaplain, Dr. Black serves as a spiritual advisor and counselor to the members of the United States Senate and their families. This visit with Dr. Black was undoubtedly the most inspirational and encouraging meeting during our visit to Washington, D.C.

During our time, Dr. Black challenged us from the book of Daniel in the bible. In this book, Daniel underwent three years of traning from the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of the training program, Daniel and three other Israelites were brought before the king to be tested. Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed with Daniel and these men, that he found them to be ten times more capable than any others who were trained in his kingdom. As a result, Daniel and these men received high positions serving in the royal court.

Dr. Black continued in saying that if we believe the bible to be the truth of God, and that the Holy Spirit has power over us and the world around us, then without the Holy Spirit we may be limiting ourselves in professional, emotional, and spiritual growth as leaders. Here in Daniel, with the help of the Holy Spirit, men were able to grow to become ten times greater than others around them. It is this challenge that Dr. Black brought before us, to grow ten times greater through our doctoral journey, in our careers, and in our serve to others! We have an untapped reserve in us to grow ten times greater!

Personal Time at the Library of Congress

On Friday afternoon, May 29th, after my time with Dr. Black, I was able to spend time reading and reflecting in the reading room of the Library of Congress (pictures below):

Library of Congress Lobby

pic 2

I spent about two hours with my computer, my journal, and the book For This I Was Born: Aligning Your Vision to God’s Cause by Pastor Brian Houston. There was specifically one section of this book that came alive to me in the Library of Congress reading room, and after hearing the encouraging words from Dr. Black to become ten times greater.

“Your life will unfold according to a certain pattern that is determined by your convictions (what you believe), your desires (what you want), and your affections (what you love). Those whose priorities are centered on Christ’s cause will see the rewards of their commitment emerging in their lives. When Jesus is your priority, he holds your life together” (Houston, 2008). He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17

This private time I had the Library of Congress brought the Washington, D.C. trip to its apex. This time was a reminder to me of my purpose for this doctorial program and the work that I do in higher education. This trip, the visits with ACTA, and Dr. Black, as well as my personal time in the Library of Congress had a profoundly encouraging and inspirational affect on myself. I am truly blessed by The Lord for having to have seen and visited Washington, D.C. this past week.

I am lastly reminded of one my favorite quotes from our sixth President John Quincy Adams; “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” It is my sincerest desire to help others find their purpose, in order to “become more”, and positively affect their circles of influence. This is the lens that I look through as I personally aspire to grow as a leader. To me, leadership is about serving others, and I want to continually do exactly that.

God Bless,



Works Cited

American Council for Trustees and Alumni (2002). Can College Accreditation Live Up to It’s Promise? Council for Higher Education Accreditation Website. Retrieved from: http://www.chea.org/pdf/CanAccreditationFulfillPromise.pdf

American Council for Trustees and Alumni (2007). Why Accreditation Doesn’t Work. ACTA Website. Retrieved from: https://www.goacta.org/images/download/why_accreditation_doesnt_work.pdf

Houston, B., 2008. For This I was Born: Aligning Your Vision to God’s Cause. Nashville: Thomas Nelson

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Exceptional Leaders produce extraordinary Action!

April 26, 2015 | Posted in Leadership, Purpose | By

Think about someone in your life who was an exceptional leader.

What made this person stand out in your mind as an exceptional leader? Most likely, this leader accomplished something noteworthy; an extraordinary action that you were able to witness. Many times we attribute exceptional leadership to the extraordinary results that were accomplished.

As we discovered previously, exceptional leaders do not focus on just the results they aim for. For great leaders, results come as an aftermath of focusing on a timeless purpose or worthy cause. That’s not to say that leaders do not want great things to happen. In fact, that is the contrary.

Exceptional leaders realize that when they passionately lead with purpose, and they effectively shares their dreams, extraordinary things can happen.


When examining further how great leaders inspire great action, we found that followers were motivated to greater extents and performed to higher levels when there existed an alignment or sharing of purpose. Furthermore, it was found that when leaders led from a strong sense of purpose (or cause), they found greater meaning in their work, had greater influence, and tended to perform to higher extents than those who did not.

Think about Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, or Gandhi for instance. These men led extraordinary causes, which ended up changing ideas, people, and society forever. What did these men have in common? Well, they led with purpose, had a powerful vision, and then extraordinary action took place.

A prominent author on the subject of purpose, Nikos Mourkogiannis (2007), outlines that purpose is the starting point for great leadership. “Whether that is shareholders, board members, or constituents, finding and fulfilling a purpose that fits the identify of the organization is the foundation and starting point for greatness.”

Furthermore, Mourkogiannis (2007) states that, “when a company is driven by a shared purpose, its morale will be higher, the quality of innovation will improve, its internal and external relationships will be strengthened, and its leaders will be able to point the way forward with conviction.”

The topic of purpose is also a constant strand in Transformational Leadership expert James MacGregor Burns’ (1978) writing who says; “there is nothing so power-full, nothing so effective, nothing so causal as common (or shared) purpose . . . leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose”.

Lastly, emotional Intelligence experts and authors, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee, and Daniel Goleman (2002) also highlight that “leaders cannot keep achieving new goals and inspiring the people around them without understanding the meaning of their own dreams.”

It is the constant of purpose, meaning, and timeless vision that seem to propel exceptional leaders to produce extraordinary action in their organizations and through their people.

As a leader, it is quite clear that understanding these concepts of purpose has tremendous benefit for your leadership, your team, and your organization. Exceptional action is possible when you lead from a strong purpose, and communicate a powerful, contagious vision.

The question is, will you take the time to find your purpose?


Works Cited:

Boyatzis, R., McKee, A., & Goleman, D. (2002). Reawakening your passion for work. Harvard Business Review, 80(4), 86-94.

Burns JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Mourkogiannis, N.,. (2007). Purpose: The starting point of great leadership. LTL Leader to Leader, 2007(44), 26-32.

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Purpose-Centered Leadership

March 29, 2015 | Posted in Leadership, Purpose | By

Theories on organizational leadership philosophy have continued to evolve over the decades.

In the 1840s, leadership theory stated that great leaders were born not made. Later in the 1930s, trait theory emerged to describe great leadership as based upon certain physical qualities or social traits. At this point, great leaders could either be born or made, but only by associating with certain great leadership traits. Behavioral theories emerged in the 1940s focusing on the cause and affect of certain leadership behaviors toward their followers. Leadership theory now suggested the great leaders could be taught. Contingency (or situational) leadership theories came on the scene in the 1960s. Later, in the 1970s we began to see transaction leadership, such as leader-member exchange. Leadership became a mutual activity between the leader and follower. Finally, we saw the introduction of transformational leadership and servant leadership in the 1970s. Leadership became about behavior, inspiration, and most importantly a mutual relationship between follower and leader.

A Changing of the Guard

Arguably, two of the greatest change drivers facing organizations today are that of increased globalization and the shifting of our workforce to the millennial generation. It is these two factors that are changing the entire business environment we live in today. First, the landscape has changed. We are and will continue to do business in a globalized world. Second, the people have changed.

Today, globalized organizations are currently undergoing a radical shift into a millennial driven workforce. When the landscape changes, and the people change, everything changes. We are currently undergoing, what I like to call a changing of the guard for organizational leaders. Therefore, the way we lead the organization needs to change. It is based upon the two ideas of increased globalization and the deployment of millennial into the workforce, where we believe the theories of organizational leadership need to evolve once again.


Purpose-Centered Leadership

In order for the leader to meet the new demands of the globalized, millennial driven workforce, we must embrace a purpose-centered leadership philosophy. The two aspects of purpose-centered leadership, purpose for the individual and purpose for the organization, seek to align an individual’s purpose (meaningful work, values and experiences) with the organization’s corporate purpose (values and cause).

The first aspect of purpose-centered leadership takes into account Vicktor Frankl’s (1958) theoretical work of will to meaning and applies three distinct notions for purpose as a motivator for organizational leadership theory:

  1. Purpose will involve pursuing meaningful activities for the employee within their vocation.
  2. Employees need to understand how these meaningful activities bring value or make meaning of past circumstances to themselves and potentially provide benefit to others.
  3. The employee’s meaningful work needs to be in alignment to a worthy cause.

It is through the alignment of these three elements of will to meaning (meaningful work, alignment and identification of values to meaningful work, and the alignment of meaningful work to a worthy cause) where purpose can become the highest motivator for us as individuals and as leaders in the organization.

The second aspect of purpose-centered leadership involves how the organization views and utilizes purpose for their members:

As a purpose-centered leader it is our duty to identify, articulate, and share the corporate purpose amongst employees of our organizations. The corporate purpose is how an organization sees and defines purpose internally and for its stakeholders. A corporate purpose communicates the powerful aspect of purpose for the organization, and it can ultimately provide the point of alignment for a worthy cause as discussed in Frankl’s will to meaning work.

The sharing of the corporate purpose involves facilitating the alignment between the members of our organization and the corporate purpose (Finely, 2009; Springett, 2004; Bartlet & Ghoshal, 1997; Burns 1978). To help embody this idea, prominent author and transformational leadership authority, James MacGregory Burns (1978) writes; “there is nothing so power-full, nothing so effective, nothing so causal as common (or shared) purpose . . . leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose”. (p. 3).

It is proposed that when leaders facilitate the alignment of these two aspects of purpose-centered leadership, the individual and the organization will experience this tremendous drive of purpose. Not only will this result is both performing to greater extents than others who do not, but both the individual and organization will share in the creation of meaningful work, which benefits both entities and society at large. This is where the tremendous value for purpose-centered leadership comes into play.



Bartlett, C. A., and S. Ghoshal., (1997). Beyond Strategy, Structure, Systems to Purpose, Process, People: Reflections on a Voyage of Discovery. Monash Mt. Eliza Business Review 1, no. 1 (September 1997): 54–61.

Burns JM. 1978. Leadership. Harper & Row: New York.

Finley, D. C. (2009). What’s your purpose?: Steps to creating a purpose-driven business. Journal of Financial Planning, , 18-19.

Frankl, V. E.,. (1958). On logotherapy and existential analysis. Am J Psychoanal the American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 18(1), 28-37.

Springett, N.,. (2004). Corporate purpose as the basis of moral leadership of the firm. Strategic Change, 13, 297-308.

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