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An Interview with Chancellor Gordon Robertson

On August 30, 2023, the Regent University community celebrated a historic event at the inaugural Chancellor’s Chapel with Regent’s new Chancellor, Gordon Robertson. After a time of worship and prayer, Chancellor Robertson was welcomed to the stage by thunderous applause from Regent students, faculty, and staff. Executive Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Joseph Umidi, sat down with Chancellor Robertson for a Q&A interview that revealed his vision for Regent and his heart for the world.

Q: Gordon, you have been the CEO of CBN since 2007. Last year alone, 685 million people viewed at least one broadcast from CBN, and 298 million professed faith in Christ. 65 million are projected to have joined a church or fellowship, and last year, CBN broadcast to 165 countries and territories in 45 languages. How incredible!

A: Let’s just give God the glory, because He did all of that. We were just along for the ride. One of the greatest things I learned from my father is simply to say yes to God, and don’t worry about the details. It’s okay if you don’t know what you’re doing, because God does, and He will guide you. If you had told me 29 years ago that we would see these kinds of numbers, I frankly would have laughed in disbelief. But keep in mind these stats. Today, we are in the greatest revival in the history of the Church. We tend to look back to previous revivals, whether it was the great awakenings here in the United States, the Welsh revival, or other revivals, as if there was some golden age in the past. We’re in it now. We are in the great final end gathering of the Gentiles. This is the greatest revival the Church has ever seen. These are astounding numbers. When you hear the headlines in the United States, all the politics, all the disasters that seem to be multiplying all around us, know this: God has raised up a standard, and the kingdom of God prevails. The gates of hell aren’t advancing. We’re advancing to take them. We can get all wrapped up in what’s happening culturally or politically, but don’t get wrapped up in that. Get wrapped up in the kingdom of God. He will win.

Q: Gordon, your father heard the Lord say to him, “Build a school for my glory.” You’ve seen the glory of God manifested in your years at CBN. How do you hope to see God’s glory manifested at Regent?

A: Years ago, I got this recurring message as I was in the Philippines: “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:38). My father had given me a Greek New Testament, and I really wanted to learn the New Testament in Greek. I read that verse, and the Greek for “send out” is not a gentle word. It’s ἐκβάλλω (ekbállō). It literally means “throw out.” So, when Jesus would drive out a demon, He would ekbállō it. When He drove the money changers out of the temple, He ekbállō them. It’s not a kind word. When you think of a harvest rotting in a field, there’s an urgency. The harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to drive out laborers into his harvest. That’s what I want here. How can we see the greatest revival in the history of the Church and realize all of those new converts need to be harvested? They need to be discipled. They need to be trained. They need to know the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They need to know how to operate in that and do that in a way that is not compelled physically but compelled by love. If we are driven by love to do these things, then the glory of the Lord is going to fill that. He will fill your life. You will have purpose. You will be on mission, and instead of building things for earthly goals, you’ll be building things for all eternity.

Q: You have discovered a way to operate in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. How does the anointing of the Holy Spirit work at a university?

A: How do we operate both in the mind, renewing the mind and the intellectual, and also embracing the role of the Holy Spirit? I’ll give you a word picture. What if you knew somebody that knew everything about bicycles. They knew why carbon fiber was so much better than steel. They knew why there are spokes in a wheel, why different treads give you different speeds, and they could work out all the mathematics of the gear ratio and tell you what the optimum ones are for climbing hills and going downhill. They knew all of that but had never ridden a bike. Would they know anything about bicycles? Until you start operating in the gifts, you don’t know anything. When you start operating, and then you go back and read the New Testament, you realize “Oh, that’s what they’re talking about. Oh, now I’ve got something I can use.” Then suddenly, it makes sense. Instead of that being an intellectual exercise, you say, “I can use that.” So, in our education, we need to get to the point where we can understand that the Word can become flesh in you. That’s what the whole born-again experience is. The Word becomes flesh in you. The promise of Jesus that you will do greater things than He did –that’s a wow! The Holy Spirit is the gateway into all of that. He will teach you all things. But He’s the helper – He’s not the commander. He’s not looking for robots. He’s looking for people who are compelled by love that want to initiate it. When you see the sick, how can you heal them? When you see people in need, how can you help? When you see somebody who’s lost, how can you guide them? I’ve got some really good news for you. You can have these things. That’s when the power of the Holy Spirit as your helper comes along, and He just fills you. You have rivers of living water that are pouring out of you. You literally can’t help it. You can’t stop it.

Q: In your leadership role over all 3 ministries – CBN, Operation Blessing, and now Regent University – how do you see this family of ministries collaborating?

A: There’s a three-part cord, if you will, to the ministries of CBN, Operation Blessing, and Regent University. First, you need a proclamation. You need to have a media ministry that can broadcast the good news. Broadcasting is actually a farming term. It’s not a media term. On the back of a tractor, farmers have what’s called a broadcaster. Instead of sowing seed in rows, they spread seed throughout a field. In media, we need that. We need to spread that good news as far and as wide as we can. There’s a whole chapter in Matthew 13 about a sower who went out to sow, and he’s obviously broadcasting seed. He’s not trying to sow it in rows. He’s broadcasting it. We need that. Secondly, we need a humanitarian arm. We’re providing help to people in their point of need, because that’s exactly the time where the gospel can come in. You reach out with hands of love and compassion. If you’re the hands and feet of Jesus, you’re out there doing good, then the message gets reinforced. This is what Christians do. It’s one thing to say, “this is what Christians ought to do” and it’s another thing to show “this is what Christians do.” Finally, the third part is training. There’s a need to train and send laborers into the harvest. Regent University’s motto is Christian Leadership to Change the World. How do we get people into positions in government, in law, in education, in counseling, in psychiatry, in healthcare, in ministry, in every pillar of society? It’s amazing what can happen when Christians are trained in their area of expertise and go out into that area being witnesses for Christ.

Q: What do you do to keep yourself flourishing, to keep yourself vibrant physically and spiritually?

A: I have increased my prayer life. I’m trying to learn how to pray without ceasing, which is easy to say, and in practice really hard to do. How do you stay in that communication with the Lord? “Lord, what do you want me to do in this moment?” The source of refreshing is always the presence of the Lord. So if you’re tired, if you feel overwhelmed, the best thing to do is seek Him and seek His rest. It’s time to say, “I can’t do this.” It’s not going to be based on the busyness of my work, or how much I feel an obligation. You know that wonderful story of Mary and Martha. In that same chapter in Luke 10, it says that Mary has chosen the better part. So, let’s choose that better part. Let’s say, “Jesus, Master, I can’t do this, but with You I can do all things.”

Q: How would you define success in the next 5 years at Regent University?

A: I think defining success needs to be always on kingdom principles. For every Christian, the model of success is this: are you obedient to what God has called you to do? Leave aside anything else, because it’s not going to endure. Years ago, when frankly I was living for me, I wanted money and power and position as a lawyer. A dear friend of both my father and my grandfather said, “I want to have lunch with you.” I thought he was going to give me a case or do a referral or something like that. I was thinking about money. He sat me down at lunch and he looked at me and said, “What do you want on your tombstone? Do you want 2,000 billable hours a year on your tombstone?” I think the answer is obvious: No. But it really got me thinking. It really highlighted that all my concepts of career and American success, in the light of eternity, was remarkably meaningless. So how do I define success? When God tells you to do something, say yes.

Q: How do you respond to difficult situations?

A: Be anxious for nothing, because it only makes it worse. We can play out lots of different scenarios. As a lawyer, you actually get trained in disaster thinking. What’s the worst thing that could happen with this deal? And how can we guard against it? You know, judgment begins in the house of the Lord. So, let’s run with the full armor of God, and make sure everything’s in place. And, most importantly, that our heart is right. The Bible asks us to lay our burdens at His feet. Don’t pick it back up. Lay it at His feet. Be anxious about nothing but by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Q: How do you practice entering God’s rest? What’s important to you about Sabbath and rest that could be helpful for us?

A: I think rest is a vital part of the Christian walk. The Sabbath was made for you, so take it. In your spiritual practice, learn how to get to that state of rest quickly, and you can actually train yourself to do that. As you’re looking for that peace that passes all understanding, sometimes it can be very elusive, because whatever you’re going through keeps talking to you. You need to have that still, small voice, which means you’ve got to get still in order to hear it. So how do you get to that peace? The number one way is this: meditate on the Word of God. Don’t just recite it, but really try to discover what it means. I’ll give you an example from my time this morning. God has me going back to the book of Joshua. Joshua was a “young man.” In Hebrew, it means you’re just awakening. So, what is the awakening piece where you awaken as a child of faith in his presence? I’ve spent a lot of time with Jewish commentary, and they talk about developing childlike faith. They pray, “Lord, make me young, so that I can see you.” So, the more sophisticated you are, it actually inhibits you from that relationship. Just as a little child would say, “Daddy, can I come up into your lap right now?” I get choked up every time I say it. “Daddy, can I come up into your lap right now?” We are creatures of habit. So, develop good habits. If you develop a habit of worry and anxiety. Well, you’re going to have to break it. Develop a habit of rest, of meditation, and of prayer. Jesus, I must decrease. You must increase.

Q: Tell us about your hobbies. You’re a photographer. What does it mean to actually just recreate?

There’s a wonderful book, Practicing the Presence of God, where you take some ordinary activities – like cooking – and there’s something in that, both a repetitive practice and a sort of alchemy where you take ingredients, and you make something new. It really is transformative. In that example, you can have a meditation on God taking the ingredients and making something new. You can really focus in on that. Years ago, I picked up photography. There’s something wonderful about taking light and creating these images. In that, you can meditate. Because Who is light? Who made light come in to be? You’re taking that which God spoke into being, and you’re creating something new. God is creative. When we operate in His creativity with artistic expression, God’s in that.

Q: How can we pray for you? What would you want us to call out to God for on your behalf?

A: My lifelong prayer has been for understanding and wisdom. This really goes back to my childhood attending Park View Baptist Church. I was 4 or 5 years old, and I was really struck with the story of Solomon and his prayer for understanding and wisdom. It’s one thing to have head knowledge. It’s another thing to have that deep gut wisdom where you know what to do. You don’t have to think it through. I face so many decisions that I really don’t have a lot of time to sit and ponder. I’ve got to make a decision, and I’ve got to make a decision now. So what’s that gut reaction? And is that gut reaction based on the truth of Jesus Christ? That wisdom needs to be resident in me, so my constant prayer request is that wisdom would be with me.

Q: Whenever you think of our Chancellor, ask God to give him wisdom for each day. Sir, would you pray for us?

A: Lord God, I ask for blessing for everyone here. I ask that You would bless them and keep them, that You would lift up Your countenance upon them, and be gracious to them. That You would cause Your face to shine upon them and give them Your Shalom. Give them Your peace. Lord, let them enter into Your presence, into times of refreshing, times of rest, and times of the peace that passes all understanding. And in that place, may they learn to hear Your voice. And when they hear it, would they be eager to say, “Yes, God send me.” We bless them with this. We mark them with this. May they be students of You, that your Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth. Bless them, Lord, for we ask it in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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