Simple, Not Complex: Remaining Faithful to Our Vision

apple-01I shared these thoughts this morning in a letter to our faculty and staff. I share them with you.

Dear Friends in Christ at RTS Charlotte and RTS Orlando:

I read a great quote in the WSJ today that I had to share with you as I am praying for you all. It is “spot on” as our British friends say. It is given by Tim Cook, the second in command at Apple, who has been running things quite well while the iconic Steve Jobs has been recovering from his illness (and who returns to work today amidst much press coverage). The stock is up 60% since mid January (no, I didn’t get in on it, as usual). A new iPhone is released and millions are sold in just a couple of days. Sales in all categories are up. And just look: our students are veritable walking ads for Apple as they carry Macbooks, iPhones and iPods around everywhere. And the company has turned from a niche personal computer company to a multi media and entertainment giant and a cultural phenomenon. But there is a focus that links it all together. Here is the quote and no doubt the secret:

“We believe in the simple, not the complex…we believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can focus on the few that are meaningful to us. Regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well” (Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, June 23, 2009, B2).

“Not bad,” I thought. This didn’t come from Jobs, who co founded Apple, it came from one who came later, one who caught the vision. Not bad. And “not bad” for me to remember. Simple, not complex. I didn’t found this seminary and didn’t go to seminary here (though I tried…long story). But I got here as fast as I could! And I pray I am catching the vision. Saying no to things outside of my lane, in order to say yes to the mission God has given me. We at RTS are a Gospel mission that exists to prepare pastors to effectively take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Our values are the inerrancy of the Word of God, the primacy and urgency of the Great Commission, and a commitment to the time tested interpretive lens of the good old Reformed faith. And everything we do flows from that singular mission, those cherished values. And our vision is not complex: one soul saved, a thousand saved, a nation transformed, because God used RTS to train a pastor to faithfully preach the Gospel. Simple. Not complex. Thus David focused on the simple, the “one thing” of his life:

One thing [my emphasis] have I asked of the LORD,
        that will I seek after:
     that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
        all the days of my life,
     to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
        and to inquire in his temple” (Psalms 27.4 ESV).

And so too did St. Paul possess that simple focus, the “one thing” of his life:

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3.13).

These were my reflections this morning. Every time I read something like this, and go back to the vision and mission of RTS and our founding, as Steve (Wallace, not Jobs) often reads it to us at our meetings, I get pumped. And I remember why I accepted this call.

Just some thoughts. I pray that God grants you a great day in the Lord as you focus on our one thing.

Your fellow laborer in the Gospel


About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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