Looking up from my seat, as goosebumps upon goosebumps emerged on my arms, I realized that I was witnessing 10 years of influence cumulating in a single moment. 

Let me backup… 

Like many in my field, I started as a professor with no formal training. Plucked from the marketplace for my expertise, I was thrown into the lion’s den like Daniel and somehow survived. Four years into being a professor is when I first came across Cornelius Plantinga’s text Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living; it quickly became the foundation of my teaching philosophy. Most notable to his message is the push for holistic education, in other words Knowledge, Virtues, and Skills (KVS). 

The historic roots of modern day education are KVS but the commercialization (in my opinion) of learning created a greater focus on the “K”. Yet, we know that a faithful, fully orbed Christian anthropology suggests that we are more than “thinking things” or “brains on a stick”. We are embodied creatures who engage the world as whole persons through what we sometimes refer to as heads, hearts, and hands. It follows then that transformative learning requires engagement of all aspects of our personhood. Plantinga’s KVS framework attempts to not simply reflect a robust and accurate anthropology, but also to avoid common distortions of the purpose(s) of education that have persisted throughout the history of American higher education. 

For me, it was revolutionary (fireworks in the sky) to see KVS as a possibility in higher education and, more importantly, at my university.  

KVS quickly landed in my Learning Objectives for every course and was enthusiastically used as a framework in each lesson plan. 

I became a quick advocate for KVS to all my peers, annoying them at every possible interaction about it. And then… 

…nothing happened.  



I was able to lead my corner of the institution as the dean of the College of Business and Technology into adopting KVS but the rest of the university didn’t…mostly due to the 5,000 other responsibilities each carry. I could get everyone to agree conceptually but no one adopted it…not one. That is, until this picture above. 

This is the moment that the NCU VP of Academic Affairs announced to a large group of incoming students about our ecology of teaching, which is “built around a framework that we call KVS.” 

And so…   

Leadership is about both the short game and the long game but, frankly, the latter is so much more challenging. The leadership long game is too often filled with gut punches, bruises, seasonal doubts, frustration, tears, confusion, and more. It is true, sometimes we need to let go of an idea and move on…progress to something different. 

But, holding onto the passion for the long game through war-like challenges bears the greatest fruit…both in us and in the organizations that we lead. 

I want encourage you as a leader in a long game with these three things: 

  1. Be a living sacrifice for our calling in Christ and the God-centered passions on your heart (Romans 12:1) 
  1. Be steadfast and obedient, especially when your emotions fail you (John 14:15) 
  1. Be in constant belief that the Lord is moving, even when you can’t seem to see it (Proverbs 16:33) 

I’m praying for all in the leadership long game that you will experience a renewal of spirt and energy in your body. 

Continue the conversation: 

  1. What signs do you look for to determine if you should let go of an idea and move on? 
  1. What’s the longest “influence game” you’ve played and what kept you in it? 
  1. How much does one’s personal passion play into keeping with the long game of influence? 

Bill Tibbetts, MBA, ABD
Dean | Associate Professor
College of Business & Technology | Digital Education
North Central University