Published on August 23, 2021 by Morgan Black
The social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management program in Samford University’s Brock School of Business seeks to develop the next generation of business leaders who desire to pursue redemptive entrepreneurship across the globe. In support of this mission, Shades Mountain Baptist Church established the Danny Wood Annual and Endowed Scholarship in honor of its longtime senior pastor, and Samford alumnus, Danny Wood, who retired Aug. 15, 2021.
Wood, a 1999 graduate of Samford’s Beeson Divinity School, received a business degree from Auburn University and began his career in sales for BellSouth, now AT&T.
“I gained a good understanding of how businesses operated along with learning important financial concepts,” Wood said. “My eight and a half years working at BellSouth taught me a great deal about leading organizations and teams; how to work with people; how to set and meet budgets; and how to plan, lead and execute those plans in order to meet goals.”
After working in sales, Wood was called into ministry. He became the pastor of First Baptist Church in Ruston, Louisiana, where he served for more than eight years. In January 1997, he began Beeson’s Doctor of Ministry program and was named the senior pastor at Shades Mountain Baptist in March of that year.
“I was looking to take on an academic challenge while at the same time sharpening my skills as a pastor and leader,” he said. “My degree from Beeson came at the perfect time as I was leading a megachurch through a number of transitions. I gained a wealth of knowledge about strategic leadership in my preaching and organizational development. In fact, my doctoral project introduced a team leadership philosophy to our existing staff and helped us develop a oneness as a team and clearer focus on the mission of the church.”
Not long into his role at Shades, Wood answered another calling and began serving as an adjunct professor in Samford’s Brock School of Business.
“When, I tell you God led me to do this, I can back it up!” he said.
“I was beginning to lead Shades in a capital campaign for facilities improvement and our consultant challenged our leaders to pray about the amount we would pledge for three years. I had a dollar figure in mind, but at that meeting the Lord impressed on me a higher number. I turned in a higher number with no idea of how Janice and I could meet that goal. Later that week at our Wednesday night supper, Marlene Reed, professor at Samford [and Brock School of Business interim dean at the time], asked me if I would be interested in teaching Managerial Values. After further discussion with her, I was intrigued. And then she told me Samford would pay me. I was to teach six classes over three years. The amount of ‘salary’ over those three years was exactly the difference in the amount of money I was originally planning to pledge and the higher amount I wrote down! So yes, God led me to do this!”
Although Wood had completed his work as an adjunct professor when the social entrepreneurship program was started in 2010, the program reflects the fundamental elements upon which he has shaped his own career. To Wood, the word “social” carries with it an impact beyond the bottom line–an impact in bettering the lives of others and especially the marginalized, and, most importantly, a kingdom-of-God impact. He also shared that the word “entrepreneurship” carries with it the idea of risk and creativity, operating outside the box, and pursuing a passion or meeting a need by taking business principles, based on ethical leadership, to create shared value, then doing the hard work of visioning, planning, organizing, staffing and working the plan to achieve success.
To students looking for careers that emphasize redemptive entrepreneurship, Wood advises that, for Christians, a business career is a mission field.
“Every person you come in contact with, whether in your office or as a customer, needs to hear the gospel, and you can do this by modeling the life of Christ–build relationships and look for opportunities to share the Good News,” he said.
To accomplish this, he first suggests adhering to Colossians 3:23-24 which states, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
He said, “We are to work hard and strive for a standard of excellence in all we do as if we were working for the One who created us, loves us, died for us and provides us eternal life. A strong work ethic speaks volumes to your boss and co-workers and gains their respect. This respect provides you a platform to share the Gospel even as you live out the Gospel. There is a reason the Bible condemns slothfulness!”
Secondly, Wood suggests using biblical principles in approaching work.
“Whether you are starting a new business or starting on the ground floor with your first job, a commitment to live by and using biblical principles will allow you the opportunity to further the gospel. Proverbs 22:1 says, ‘A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.’ Help create the culture of where you work by modeling integrity, encouragement, being a self-starter, loyal and, most of all, a humble servant. These qualities exercised in your workplace will be a wonderful testimony to what a Christ follower is about and will open doors for you to share why you have adopted this work philosophy. Live out your convictions in your day-to-day work and God will bring people into your path who need to hear a word from the Lord. I can speak from eight and a half years of experience in the business world that if you honor God in your work/career, he will provide you multiple opportunities to have an impact for the kingdom of God.”
In addition to his adjunct role in Brock School of Business, Wood has provided exemplary service to the entire university. He served as a member of the Board of Ministerial Mentors and as a member of the Board of Trustees. During his time as a trustee, Wood provided leadership on Samford’s Task Force on Racial Justice and the Presidential Search Committee.
The Danny Wood Annual and Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to undergraduate students concentrating in social entrepreneurship who exhibit Christian character, maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA, express interest in using business as missions in their career and demonstrate financial need.
Wood said that he hopes this scholarship will not only meet a financial need but will serve as a constant reminder to students of their responsibility to be the “salt and light” in the business world.
Jeremy Thornton, Brock School of Business associate dean and social entrepreneurship program coordinator said, “Danny Wood is an outstanding example of redemptive entrepreneurship. His career is a model of ongoing sacrifice and diligent effort to draw everything in his influence closer to Christ. I am delighted that his name will be a permanent reminder of social entrepreneurship to our students and faculty.”
Support the scholarship by giving here today.
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.