All Press Releases for March 14, 2013

President Brad Smith of Bakke Graduate University Responds to Selection of Pope Francis I

Church historian Thomas Reese summed up what the cardinals were looking for in the next pope with the phrase "Jesus Christ with an MBA." President Brad Smith, of Bakke Graduate University responds to the selection of the new Catholic pope.

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    Brad Smith is the President of Bakke Graduate University. BGU is an accredited university, offering online degrees in business, ministry and community development.

    SEATTLE, WA, March 14, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Last week an American priest and Catholic Church historian Father Thomas Reese summed up what the cardinals were looking for in the next pope with the phrase "Jesus Christ with an MBA." His idea was that the job requires deep personal spirituality combined with acute organizational skills. With the elevation of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aries to the position of pope, the Catholic Church has elected a strong administrator with a spirit of effective, yet humble service.

Brad Smith, President of Bakke Graduate University responded, "The fact that so many people see this quote as odd points out how deeply our culture sees spirituality and management as polar opposites. It is true that no pope candidate is Jesus, and Jesus led a small group of disciples, not an organization of 1.2 billion members. But the fact that it is so hard for us to imagine a good organizational leader also being profoundly spiritual demonstrates a deeper problem. Perhaps if more organizations added spiritual depth as part of what they look for in their CEO's, we would see a vastly different business world."

Bakke Graduate University is a US accredited University with five doctoral and masters programs focusing on transformational leadership at the intersection of Christian theology, business and urban studies. The online Christian MBA program is one of the world's first combined masters programs taught 40% by theology professors and 60% by business professors.

Brad Smith continues, "Online Christian MBA programs are training managers to address social needs in cities and spiritual needs of employees. Likewise, innovative urban studies are training social leaders to empower people in poverty to be more self-sufficient through business entrepreneurship. Innovative theology programs are teaching church leaders to connect better to community needs. But what may be most surprising is how churches are also seeking to connect to business in new ways."

Smith continued, "There has always been a general fear that management would somehow corrupt churches, and churches had little practical to say about business. In the 1990s, management writer Peter Drucker told me, "The purpose of management is not to make the church more businesslike, but to make the church more churchlike." By providing education through the Bakke online Christian MBA program, we encourage those with management experience to exercising their gifts in the church.

Smith said, "The church has a purpose that is very different from any business. The word "church" actually does not even mean a building or an organization, but a community of believers building each other up to be more like Jesus, and sharing that with others. Even so, appropriate systems of management can help the church better accomplish its distinctive purpose and take better care of its people. By earning an accredited online Christian MBA, church leaders can become more effective.

Smith continues, "The church and management connection goes the other way as well. A major emphasis in churches over the last few years is how they can better equip their members to make a contribution in their workplaces. That doesn't always mean proselytizing, but often it means making ethical decisions, being a great employee or manager, and seeing their work as something God calls them to pursue with excellence."

One of the three founding Bakke brothers of BGU, Dennis Bakke explains in his 2008 NYT best seller, Joy at Work, that the purpose of business and the purpose of non-profit organizations should be the exact same; to contribute something valuable to society. Certainly a business is sustained by profits, but its purpose is not to maximize profits, but to make a difference through its products and services. The appropriate inclusion of spirituality in business helps employees see their work as going beyond just making a paycheck. It adds a whole new significance to their work. This is the focus of the accredited online Christian MBA at Bakke Graduate University.

Smith says, "Younger people entering the business world are not interested in living divided lives where they don't see their work making a contribution to society. Younger churchgoers don't want to see a divide between their lives on Sunday and their lives on Monday. There is a search for wholeness connecting their business life and their spiritual life."

"The image of Jesus dressed in the robes and sandals of 2000 years ago working spreadsheets on his Ipad is funny. The idea that so many find it hard to imagine that a large organization cannot have a leader who is also deeply spiritual is sad. I hope the 115 Cardinals do seek their version of "Jesus with an MBA". I also hope that more MBAs seek to be more like Jesus, more churches open their doors to online Christian MBA skills and more corporations add their own definition of spiritual-awareness to what they look for in a CEO."

Bakke Graduate University is an accredited US graduate school, offering online masters and doctoral level degrees in ministry, urban leadership and business.


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Richard Nongard
Bakke Graduate University
Seattle, WA
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