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Best-selling author and servant leadership expert Ken Jennings shares insight with Lipscomb community

Lacey Klotz  | 


As one of the leading Christian university’s in the country, Lipscomb University places a priority on the concept of servant leadership and developing this idea within various colleges and student groups on campus.

Ken Jennings, best-selling author and recognized expert in servant leadership, recently visited campus for his Serving Leader Summit, a special one-day event that outlined specific leadership methodology and tips for local CEO’s and businesses to lead teams and multi generational cultures with a servant-minded approach.

While on campus, Jennings shared his message of servant leadership and his new book, The Serving Leader: 5 Powerful Actions to Transform Your Team, Your Business and Your Community, with the Lipscomb community.

On Feb. 2, Jennings joined President L. Randolph Lowry and 20 students from Lipscomb’s Presidential Ambassador Council at the president’s house for a special dinner.

Lipscomb’s Presidential Ambassador Council is a leadership-training program for a group of specially selected student leaders who volunteer their time for two semesters to represent the university, its president and its board at a variety of events and activities.

Jeff Fincher, development officer and director of Lipscomb’s Presidential Ambassador Council, explained how the council puts an emphasis on servant leadership and said Jennings introduced great ideas and challenges for the students within the program.

“We try to find a variety of leaders to put our students around to help grow and diversify their leadership skills,” said Fincher. “Ken Jennings did a fantastic job speaking to our student leaders; he challenged them with great ideas and also gave them interviewing tips that will help them understand if the company practices servant leadership, or not.”

Jennings was also the featured speaker, along with Rob Touchstone, co-founder of The Well Coffeehouse and director of the College of Business’s KenJennings_Side1new missional entrepreneurship program, at Lipscomb’s Christian Business Leaders Breakfast on Feb. 3.

Hosted by Lipscomb’s College of Business, an innovator in “business as mission,” local business leaders gathered to learn how to leverage business profits into hope and how servant leadership is both relevant and necessary in today’s society.

Ray Eldridge, interim dean for Lipscomb’s College of Business shared how significant servant leadership is for students, being that is what employers are looking for in Lipscomb graduates.

“We place an emphasis on five values and virtues that Jesus demonstrated, including being, purposeful, bold, credible, creative and a servant leader,” said Eldridge. “We have defined being a servant as a leader who is humble, compassionate and approachable, encouraging others to be their best through the personal example he or she sets.

“Ken's book not only reinforced this, but took the idea of a 'serving leader" to a new level for our students.”

Jennings also spoke with Lipscomb’s College of Business’ Servant Leadership Class, taught by Fincher and Chuck Capps, associate professor in management and marketing.

For several years the college has offered a class that aligns with that of Jennings’ book, The Serving Leader.

“Ken had sent us a copy to give to each of our students,” said Fincher. “As some of the first people to have ever receive this new addition, we challenged them to read so they could ask Ken good questions.

“One of the first things Ken did when he spoke to the class was go one-by-one to each of our 53 students in the class and asked them to share something they liked or stood out to them about the book. I was really impressed with our students because they were able to talk with him about his book and converse from an educated level.”

Fincher explained how Jennings’s new book is one of the many resources they use for his Servant Leadership class, however, it differs from the others by the way it is written.

The Serving Leader is written narratively, so it is like reading a story,” said Fincher. “Most of our resources have more of an academic feel, however, this book gives our students a unique and more holistic perspective of servant leadership.”

While on campus, Jennings also requested to spend some time with students from Lipscomb’s Veterans Services.

A part of Lipscomb’s Veterans Services office, the Yellow Ribbon Program supports and assists our nation’s military and their families, who qualify for the post 9/11 GI Bill, during their transitions to student life by offering more than 75 areas of study and a Christian-based education.

Jennings, a United States Air Force veteran, served as an officer around the world in the United States, Korea, Europe and the Caribbean.KenJennings_Side2

During his time in the Air Force, Jennings experienced a serious parachuting incident, but despite this, continued his educated and later returned to teach as a professor at the Air Forces’ graduate school.

In an intimate, roundtable-like discussion, Jennings shared his experience in the military and how he was able to overcome similar circumstances that the Lipscomb students are currently facing.

“Dr. Jennings’ insight and perspective on Christian leadership and education was inspiring for the Lipscomb veterans,” said Chad Staggs, director of Lipscomb’s Veteran Services program. “His passion and love for his country resonated with the students, and his message was motivational and credible as he has faced similar challenges during his military service.”

Jennings also gave the veteran students advice on transitioning from the military to the business world.

“Dr. Jennings provided key advice regarding veterans transitioning to the job force,” Staggs continued. “His focus on networking provided the veterans an invaluable perspective when looking for an organization to be a part of.”

Following his time with Lipscomb’s veteran students, Jennings spoke at Lipscomb’s College of Business breakout chapel in Stowe Hall.

This chapel is designed for, but not limited to, students with Lipscomb’s College of Business, and Jennings shared his personal testimony and how he has been able to use his faith to drive his passion for servant leadership. 

“Having Ken Jennings on campus was a very valuable experience for our Lipscomb community and I hope it is a relationship we can continue,” Eldridge continued. “Ken's successful military, academic and professional experiences have not only enabled him to speak on this subject, but model how to live it out in a challenging world.”