Thursday, 05 March 2015 00:46

Jim Smith Associate Dean of Student Services, Troy University Montgomery

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RRJ: Many people become followers of Christ when they’re young.  That wasn’t the case with you.  How did God call you to Himself?

It’s true. God saved me when I was in my mid-20s.  I will try to give the somewhat shorter version.  I grew up in a religious home, but my family were not true believers at the time.  I went to church with my grandmother and with our next door neighbors as a child, but unfortunately, I don’t recall ever hearing the gospel clearly articulated at church.  It very well may have been that I didn’t hear the gospel due to the fact that I was a lost and foolish child, but sadly after having visited those same churches as a believer, I still have not heard the pure gospel proclaimed there.  So as a teenager, I decided I would rather sleep in on Sundays and watch TV, and since I had a reputation of being such a “good” kid at home and in the community, my family was okay with that.  Amazingly, despite the fact that I had no heart for God or the things of God, I can clearly see His hand protecting me from many of the sins that high school and college-aged students fall into, but I was still utterly lost and drinking deeply in my sins.  But God in His abundant mercy and grace began to draw me to Himself a couple of years into my Air Force career while I was going through navigator training.  First, by humbling me and showing me my pride, that I was not “good,” and that I was not in complete control.  My roommate, who was not a believer, was involved with The Navigators ministry and asked me if I would be interested in attending a Bible study.  At that point, I felt I had nothing to lose and I even began to realize that I was not seeking God.  So I began meeting with a handful of young, but faithful and sincere believers who encouraged me to read God’s Word, to memorize His Word, to meditate on His Word, to seek God’s face in prayer, and attend a local church.  Over the next several months, I heard the gospel clearly proclaimed and eventually came to see that I was a lost sinner and that my only hope was to trust in Christ as Lord and Savior.



RRJ: You said The Navigators ministry encouraged you to get involved in a local church.  What role has the local church continued to play in your life with Christ?


First in my salvation by faithfully proclaiming the gospel, and since then in my growth in the grace and the knowledge of Christ.  After leaving training, my first duty station was Barksdale AFB, LA and God led me to a faithful church where His Word was central, there was a real reverence in the worship of God (publicly and privately), and where the people sought to live out His truth.  This was an incredible encouragement and example for me, which my family sought to find as we moved from one location to another and as we’ve tried to help encourage and develop in the churches we have been part of.  I can’t say that every church experience was the best, but even in the ones that were more challenging, there is no doubt that God taught us in and through those situations. My family being part of a local church where we are both ministered to and have been able, by God’s grace, to minister to others has enhanced both our home-life and work-life, and I trust gloried Him.   



RRJ: Through your 28 years in the Air Force, and now at Troy University, you have been around many diverse people and situations.  Has it been difficult to be obedient to God in your workplace?


You know, it hasn’t really.  I’ve been blessed to have been in situations where I could be open about my faith.  Now that doesn’t mean that I’ve taken advantage of every opportunity or that everyone was open and accepting, as well as there have been numerous times where my fear of man was greater than my love for God and the love for souls.  But thankfully, during my time in the AF and at Troy I have been able to live out my faith.  I will say that things were beginning to change the last several years of my time in the AF and new policies, and even laws, were making it more difficult in some areas such as public prayer and public positions against homosexuality.  



RRJ: Specifically, now in your role as the Associate Dean of Students here at Troy’s Montgomery campus, what is one of the biggest challenges you face that your faith helps you to meet and overcome?


That’s interesting...I guess I would say that there are some difficult decisions that I have to make that will usually result in a very significant impact on the lives of individual students, specifically their ability to be able to continue their education.  These are really hard situations to deal with and I don’t take them lightly.  These are situations that I enter into prayerfully and, once I make a decision, trust God for the outcome.



RRJ: You’re a very mature believer that has worked out your faith through God’s Spirit and by His Truth.  That’s a journey that takes time and God’s grace.  Along the way what practical advice have you learned that you can pass on to our readers?


I wish I had a “silver bullet” to answer that question.  I have just sought to live out my faith at work, just as I do at church and at home.  I don’t and can’t compartmentalize to live differently, but by God’s grace try to walk in a manner worthy of His calling in every aspect of my life.  I think one area that has been most helpful to me is being in discipling relationships with other men from church who help hold me accountable not only in my individual walk with God, but in my actions and relationships at home, church and work.  I’ve had the added benefit of discipling relationships in the workplace, as well.  Of course, there has to be some care exercised when those relationships are with subordinates to avoid actual or perceived favoritism.



Jim Smith is a retired Air Force Officer and is currently Associate Dean of Student Services at Troy University Montgomery. He serves as a lay pastor at Morningview Baptist Church. Jim is married to Lynette and they have eight children.






Last modified on Thursday, 19 March 2015 00:48
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