Published on September 1, 2022 by Kristen Padilla  
Dean Sweeney preaching at convo DR08302022215

Douglas Sweeney, dean of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, encouraged the school’s students to not shy away from Christian leadership in his sermon during Opening Convocation on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

Sweeney, who preached from 1 Samuel 16:1-13, opened a new academic year and chapel series on the life of King David from Scripture with the reminder that “the Lord looks on the heart.”

“Fewer of our students say they want to be senior pastors, or solo pastors, or leaders at all,” Sweeney said. “And who can blame them given the ways in which leadership is all-too-often advocated today?”

Despite the discouraging statistics regarding young adults’ view of leadership and the reality of sin and corruption among some Christian leaders, Sweeney argued that God is still in the business of raising up godly leaders for his kingdom.

“We need more and better leaders, I hope you will agree,” he said. “And I’d like to suggest as we start our chapel series on the life of King David that the Lord wants you to respond to the call.”

Sweeney continued: “God wants to use this text to transform the world’s assumptions about the character, instincts and skills of good leaders. He wants to raise up more leaders here at Beeson Divinity School, showing the world a better way to set and reach common goals with the help of those around us for the love of God and neighbor.”

Beeson Divinity School was founded in 1988 to train God-called persons to serve as ministers in the church of Jesus Christ. The school fulfills this mission primarily through its two degree programs: Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Theological Studies. Since its founding, Beeson has graduated more than 1,300 students, many of whom serve in ministry on every inhabitable continent, and twenty-seven new students joined Beeson Divinity this fall. As dean, Sweeney shepherds the institution by providing strategic leadership and facilitating its work to prepare men and women for gospel ministry.

“I want to ask you this morning, as we start another school year, to think of King David as you wonder about the plans God has for your life,” Sweeney concluded. “Think not about whether you have the pedigree, or stature, or following to do the things that God has for you. Think not about whether you impress the right people. Trust in the Lord. Be quick to do His will. And pray that he will create in you the kind of heart you need.”

Samford University’s president Beck Taylor presided over Opening Convocation, welcoming the divinity school community to a new session. Prior to the service, Taylor addressed the greater university campus during its fall convocation, reminding undergraduate students of “the faithful life of this university, a place that stands boldly at the intersection of Christian faith and learning.”

“But nowhere on this campus, in my judgment, is that faithfulness to Christ more evident than here at Beeson Divinity School,” Beck continued. “I thank the faculty and the staff and returning students for the many ways you contribute to the vitality and to the faithfulness of this place.”

The service concluded with the school’s two newest faculty members, Gordon Bals and Jonathan Linebaugh, being publicly recognized and signing the school’s faculty covenant.

Listen to Sweeney’s Opening Convocation sermon.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.