On Monday evening, President Morris hosted a “Fireside Chat” where he read his favorite book and shared some words of encouragement with students, staff, alumni and friends.
“I want to chase God-sized dreams, and if it kills me, then so be it.”
This was just one of the many lines that President Morris read from one of the books he leaned on while in pursuit of the role as Azusa Pacific’s 18th President.
A year ago, Morris served on Biola University’s senior leadership team, which he’d been a part of since he served as vice president in 2007. Flash forward a year to Monday night, where President Morris, who has now served as Azusa Pacific’s new president for the past eight months, was welcomed as this week’s guest speaker at Fireside Chat.
Fireside Chat was started during COVID by two students in the Honors College, Clifford Young III and Jillian Schneider. Their goal was to bring different members of faculty and staff to read one of their favorite books and share a little about their own journeys in faith that led them to where they are today.
With a lamp to his left and Young, who is also the SGA President, to his right while facing about 20 students, President Morris opened up not only his book of choice, “Chase the Lion,” but he also opened up his heart with intimacy and courage.
Before he read the first chapter, he shared with the group, “There was some risk involved in making that kind of a move [from Biola to APU] and just utter, utter dependence on God to be the one to make it abundantly clear to us on whether or not this is what he had for us. And so you might find yourself wondering what’s next. And there might be some things that you’re really interested in pursuing, but you might not know how to get from here to there. You might be fearful of taking a big step for God and chasing after a really, really big dream. And that’s what this book is about.”
“Chase the Lion,” written by Mark Batterson, features several biblical stories that follow this key theme: “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small.”
The chapters and sections that Morris read aloud were perfect for anyone struggling to find faith and confidence in their hopes and dreams for the future. It encouraged both students and staff to honor God by dreaming big dreams and allowing him to show up in those spaces.
After he finished reading, he shared about some of his own dreams growing up; joining his dad in being the only other one in his family to attend college, going on to get his PhD, getting married, starting a family and more.
After sharing his story, he prompted the audience to share what dreams they have including what barriers they feel like are holding them back.
Inspired by this, senior Conner Chick shared his thoughts: “We’re always dreaming, but what matters is what we’re dreaming about, whether we’re dreaming about things like glorifying God, or rather having small limited dreams. It’s the corruption of our imaginative capacities that should reflect the imagination and creation that God embodies. And I think part of it is maybe seeing the increasing amount of failing institutions in our society, failing churches, failing universities, failing families, and the increasing cynicism that takes hold when all you see is failing institutions. I don’t know how to fix that.”
His disappointment in the institutions within our current society led to another person sharing their dream for the future generation, which led to another story and another until the Fireside Chat sparked a beautiful conversation about dreaming big, God-sized dreams.
Although I wish I could share each of those stories and dreams with you, I want to leave you with one final quote of encouragement from the book. Consider it more as a challenge if you will: “Your greatest legacy isn’t your dream, but the effect it has on the generations after you.”
So go out and be the difference makers that God has called you to be, and keep dreaming God-sized dreams.