Thrive
Podcast

Overview

Today on the podcast, we’re talking with Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, President of Asbury Seminary. In today’s episode, we talk about the quote, “Attempt something so big, that unless God intervenes, it’s bound to fail,” how he stumbled upon that quote in Jamie Buckinghams’ study, ways he hears from God, and how his skills as a builder help him build a healthy, sustainable organization. We also explore his love of hiking and wood working.

Dr. Timothy Tennent, President, Asbury Seminary

Dr. Timothy C. Tennent has served as President since July 2009. Prior to his coming to Asbury Seminary, Dr. Tennent was the Professor of World Missions and Indian Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he served since 1998. Ordained in the United Methodist Church in 1984, he has pastored churches in Georgia, and in several of the largest churches in New England. Since 1989, he has taught annually as an adjunct professor at the New Theological College in Dehra Dun, India. He is a frequent conference speaker around the country and throughout the world, including numerous countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Dr. Tennent’s wife, Julie, is also a graduate of Gordon-Conwell and has led numerous Bible Studies and is active in Friendship International in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit Dr. Tennent’s Blog at timothytennent.com.

Heidi Wilcox, host of the Thrive Podcast

Writer, podcaster, and social media manager, Heidi Wilcox shares stories of truth, justice, healing and hope. She is best known as the host of Spotlight, (especially her blooper reel) highlighting news, events, culturally relevant topics and stories of the ways alumni, current students and faculty are attempting something big for God. If you can’t find her, she’s probably cheering on her Kentucky Wildcats, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading or spending time with her husband, Wes.



Transcript

Heidi: Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of The Thrive Podcast where every other week we bring you conversations with authors, thought leaders, and people just like you to help you connect where your passion meets the world’s deep need. This week on the podcast, we’re talking with Dr. Timothy Tennent, president of Asbury Seminary. We’re talking to him about how he first discovered the quote, “Attempt something so big that unless God intervenes, it’s bound to fail,” the way he was introduced to this quote by sneaking through author Jamie Buckingham’s study the night before his good friend got married. We also talk about ways he hears from God, and how his spiritual gifting for building and construction translates not only to helping him build a healthy, sustainable organization at the Seminary, but also to his love of woodworking.

Heidi: I’m just really grateful, Dr. Tennent, for your time and being on the podcast today, and just really looking forward to the opportunity to have a fun conversation with you, and to get to know you as a person a little bit, too. I’ve known you as the president, but just I’ve never really had a conversation with you before. I’m really looking forward to that.

Timothy Tennent: Great. I look forward to it, too.

Heidi: Yeah. I want to talk to you about our slogan, attempt something big. That originated with a quote of yours, “Attempt something so big, that unless God intervenes, it’s bound to fail.” When were you first introduced to the quote?

Timothy Tennent: That quote came to me in a very, very special way. The year was 19 … Probably ’80, ’81, somewhere in there. ’80, I guess it was. One of my very good friends was getting married. I traveled down to Florida to be in his wedding. When we got there, we were staying in the home of … His fiance was Jamie Buckingham … His fiance’s father, Jamie Buckingham, was a well-known author. I was really excited about seeing his home. We were getting there at 2:00 in the morning. What happened was, I was … He told me he’d leave the backdoor open and we would just go in and find our beds. My roommate and I were both going down. We went down there. The light was on. We went into the bedroom. I couldn’t resist. I got in the hallway. I had to go across the bathroom, or whatever. I saw that his study was there, next door to me. Just being a young seminary student, I was actually headed to seminary, and here’s a guy that’s written a lot of books. I couldn’t help but just go into his study. I go into his study and I didn’t even turn the light on.

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Timothy Tennent: The moon was shining through the window onto his typewriter. In those days, people had typewriters.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I walked up to his typewriter, and I was thinking, wow, this is where all those books were written. Of course, all the books were on the wall, and all that.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: And then, there on the typewriter, I saw this little thing. A little sticker. Something he had typed out and taped onto his typewriter. It said, “Attempt something so big, unless God intervenes, it’s bound to fail.”

Heidi: Wow.

Timothy Tennent: That was actually the origin of the phrase, “Attempt something big.” Was on the … Taped to the typewriter of Jamie Buckingham.

Heidi: I love that image.

Timothy Tennent: In Melbourne, Florida.

Heidi: I love that image of you subtly sneaking into his study.

Timothy Tennent: That’s right, and seeing that. I never forgot, because the experience and being there that night, and I always felt like it was so important to not limit yourself to what you feel like you could do, in terms of you own abilities and capacities. Dream and let God do what only He can do.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). How did that call influence your own calling?

Timothy Tennent: I think it’s influenced it just because … I think it’s been a journey … When I went into the pastorate, I thought I would just stay in my very first church. My wife and I, I was saying that we would just stay here until we retired. I never really had any ambitions to go do this, or that. You know?

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: What happened was, believe it or not, I’ve never in my life applied for a job.

Heidi: Really?

Timothy Tennent: Other than maybe when I was in high school, doing summer jobs. I’m sure I put application in for them. In terms of once I got married, my professional life, I’ve never applied for a job.

Heidi: That’s incredible.

Timothy Tennent: Being a professor at Gordon-Conwell, Professor at Toccoa Falls College, been the president of Asbury Seminary, it all came when God intervened into my life, and said, “I have something I want you to do that’s different.”

Timothy Tennent: In that sense, the Lord keeps leading me to think differently about his calling, accept that, and rest in that. I think even now, I think … Wow, I never really thought that we would have a renewal … It’s one thing to lead a seminary, which is an awesome opportunity, but to also see opportunity to really bring renewal to the wider western world, what God’s done through Asbury Seminary is really something big.

Heidi: It is, it is.

Timothy Tennent: Only God could do.

Heidi: Right now, how do you feel that God is maybe personally leading you attempt something big for Him?

Timothy Tennent: I think part of my job … I think one of the things I learned going through is that one of the most important things in life is not what you do, but what you enable others to do.

Heidi: Very true.

Timothy Tennent: Part of my role at this stage in my life is to say, “You know what? I want to help orchestrate a lot of events in our Seminary, and New Room, and Seedbed, and our church planning.”

Timothy Tennent: A lot of things, in order to unleash things that I can’t really do. I can’t plant a thousand churches.

Heidi: Something bigger than you.

Timothy Tennent: Right. Part of my role now is more of a catalyst role, to try to … I don’t get to teach a lot of classes. I don’t get a lot of time to write, things I used to enjoy doing. Now, I see my role as more of helping to orchestrate things, and helping to be behind the scenes, as it were, helping to make things work. My special gift is a builder. That’s my natural gift.

Heidi: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: I know how to analyze things, figure out what the problems are, and make things better. That’s what I can do. There are other people, other kinds of gifts, but that’s … I know how to do that. That’s part of what I do at Asbury Seminary.

Heidi: Yeah. Did you ever envision yourself as being president of a seminary someday?

Timothy Tennent: Never.

Heidi: Never?

Timothy Tennent: Never.

Heidi: Never?

Timothy Tennent: It didn’t dawn on me. I don’t know if you know this story. Probably in 2006, somewhere in there, 2006, I got approached by the Lily Foundation. They wanted to do a special study to see if a professor could someday become a seminary president. They said, “We’re going to invest some money.”

Timothy Tennent: There had been a lot of failures of presidents, where things had blown up and not gone well. The high steeple church pastors brought into the seminary environment had done very poorly, because it’s a different environment. Professors often did not do very well in this job. Could you train a professor, who knows the DNA and the dynamics, to actually do this kind of work? There’s four chosen in the US, and I was one of the ones chosen.

Heidi: Wow.

Timothy Tennent: I’d go through a three year training program. I said to them, “Maybe. I’m not really interested in a job like that.”

Timothy Tennent: I see no … If you think this is going to lead to that, then I’m not interested. They said, “No, no. We want you to go through it. Just experience the whole training and what happens afterwards is up to you.”

Timothy Tennent: I agreed to it, with the three years of training. I interviewed presidents all across the country, learned a lot about the job, just getting the inside. I did four years through the program. Ironically, by halfway through, we were in a hotel in Chicago at one point. We’re talking over a meal, or something. Somebody said, “Well, we’re halfway through the program. What do you think?”

Timothy Tennent: We all said, “Who would do this job? They would be crazy to do it.”

Timothy Tennent: On the outside, it looks different. You think it’s like cutting ribbons, waving from balconies.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: No, this is a really a painful job.

Heidi: There’s a lot of work that goes into it, yeah.

Timothy Tennent: Difficult challenges and peoples’ personalities, and gifts. The whole orchestration of this is difficult. We all laughed and said, this is actually … Who would do the job? By the end of the third year, we’re like, you know, this job is really needed. You need people to do this job.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: It was a year after I graduated from that, that I came to Asbury Seminary. Asbury actually never knew … One of the things that surprised me, is they actually never knew I went to that program. They just didn’t … For some reason, they just didn’t put it together on my resume, or whatever. When I told them about it, they were like, “Oh, really? We didn’t know you did that.”

Timothy Tennent: So, it’s really funny.

Heidi: That is.

Timothy Tennent: I did go through that program and it helped prepare me a little bit. Every school’s different. The challenges are different. You just have to learn the job, once you get into it. Just like everything else in life, you just have to learn the job.

Heidi: Yeah. How did you get to Asbury Seminary, then, if you never applied for a job? How did you come to be president?

Timothy Tennent: What happened was, Asbury Seminary was looking for a president. I didn’t know. They had one search, a failed search, who had gone through they process and said, “We’re not happy. We need to start over again.”

Timothy Tennent: I was actually in Scotland at that time. I was on sabbatical in Scotland, writing a book. They start a new process, and I had gotten emails. I get emails occasionally from people that are helping to do a search for presidential searches. It was really interesting, because there was another school … I won’t name the name of the school, but another school was looking for a president. They had contacted me and said, “Would you be interested in this school?”

Timothy Tennent: I wrote back and said, “No, I’m not interested at all.”

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: I think when I was telling my wife, asking my wife about it, and said, “What do you know about such and such school?”

Timothy Tennent: She said, “No, no, no. That’s not right.”

Timothy Tennent: He sent an email about a week later, and it was a three word email. It said, “How about Asbury?”

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Timothy Tennent: Almost half-joking, I said to Julie my wife, I said, “What do you think about us going to Kentucky? What do you think about this?”

Timothy Tennent: We live in Massachusetts.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: She said, “That’d be great, wouldn’t it?”

Timothy Tennent: I said, “Wow.”

Timothy Tennent: It was just interesting that she was open to the idea. I didn’t respond to the email, but he later called me. I said, well … I said, “I’m really happy where I am. I’m not interested in a job.”

Timothy Tennent: I got another call from a person who, at that time, was a consultant at Asbury. It’s Bob Cooley. Bob Cooley called me up. We had a long history from Gordon-Conwell years. He said to me, “I’m consulting for Asbury Seminary. I really, really think you ought to at least talk to them. Would you at least go and talk to them?”

Timothy Tennent: I went and talked to them. I responded. I went and talked to them, but I wasn’t really interested in the job. Later, after we came home, I realized they were interested in us. I finally wrote this long letter, three page letter, single spaced. I laid out all the reasons why I could not come to Asbury. One, two, three, four, five. I was involved in a lot of projects at Gordon-Conwell at the time. There was just no way I could leave.

Timothy Tennent: Anyway, this consultant called me one night. He said, “I got your letter. It was really an awesome letter. It was great.” He said, “I really appreciated it. You had some great reasons.”

Timothy Tennent: He said, “But there’s one thing you did not say.”

Timothy Tennent: I said, “Really? What’s that?”

Timothy Tennent: He said, “You never said God had not called you.”

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Timothy Tennent: He said, “If you can tell me right now that God has not called you to Asbury Seminary, then I will hang up and I’ll never call you again.”

Heidi: Wow.

Timothy Tennent: I said, “Wow, I really can’t say that.”

Timothy Tennent: I always want to be open to God’s will in my life.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: There’s a lot of things in the roadblock that … A lot of projects I’m involved in, I just can’t …

Heidi: Of course, yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I went down a second time and talked to them again. It was in the second conversation where we realized God was calling us to Asbury Seminary.

Heidi: How did you know that? How did you know you were hearing from God?

Timothy Tennent: Yes, good question. I think it was just … Honestly, it comes through multiple ways, but I think it was first an inner sense inside, where you just feel like the Lord is speaking to you. After a number of years of walking with the Lord, you know when the Lord’s trying to get your attention on things. There are things that were said and done in the process, where I realized … They had mentioned four things they were looking for, and I realized that these are things God had prepared to do, and to be, that I embodied.

Timothy Tennent: Also, just talking to my wife, talking to Julie. I highly value her thoughts about things. We talked about it, and she said … I’ll never forget her language. She said, “I feel like this is not something that we’re doing, but something that’s happening to us.”

Timothy Tennent: Something that’s happening to us and we’ve got to take notice of it.

Heidi: Yeah, you’ve got to respond.

Timothy Tennent: Respond to this. Once I realized that God was calling us, I went to see some really key friends who I was really close to. One was overseas, that I’m very close to. One was there at Gordon-Conwell. I just said, confidentially, this is what’s happening, these conversations, and what do you think? They were like, this is perfect for you guys. This is exactly the right step.

Heidi: Wow.

Timothy Tennent: We’ll take care of everything at Gordon-Conwell, don’t worry. You go. One thing led to another, and so eventually … The last thing that happened, confirmation-wise, was they have a process where these things happen. It’s all laid out in a document. Step one, step two, step three, eventually leads to a public announcement. Right?

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: This has all been agreed upon by the trustees. This is our process. They don’t like interruptions to the process.

Heidi: No.

Timothy Tennent: I said, when they finally asked me, I said I won’t consider unless I have a conversation, confidentially, in private, with senior faculty. They said that’s not part of the process. I said, then …

Heidi: Then I’m not your guy.

Timothy Tennent: I’m not your guy.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: They pushed back. Jim Smith says it’s not part of the process. I said, “Well, that’s my terms.”

Timothy Tennent: I didn’t want to get blindsided and have the trustees think I’m the greatest appointment imaginable, and the faculty saying this is not what we think is best for us.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: I said I want faculty and I want senior faculty. People that have been there forever, who know this school, who know … They arranged it, and we met at Sims Conference Room. It was really interesting, because this was the funny side of the whole thing. It as a freezing day in January. Absolutely blistering cold in Wilmore. I had never been to Wilmore in my life.

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Timothy Tennent: It was my first trip to Wilmore. Interesting?

Heidi: That is interesting. Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah. I had never been to Wilmore in my life. I get to Wilmore, it’s freezing cold. The chair of the search team says to me, “I cannot be seen on campus with you. If someone sees me, they all know who I am, walking with you. They’ll know you must be a candidate. This is highly confidential.”

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: They dropped me off at the Subway. They said, “Just walk toward that fountain.”

Timothy Tennent: I walk in, I’m going in the campus, toward the fountain. Somebody will meet you and take you to where the faculty are waiting for you. I had never been in any buildings here. I had never heard of Sims Conference Room, none of that.

Heidi: It sounds like a secret mission.

Timothy Tennent: It was.

Heidi: You know? Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I’m walking from Subway, I’m walking down that driveway there, where I now drive every day. I get to where the fountain is and there’s Tammy Cessna. Tammy Cessna says, “Hello, I’m here to escort you up to …”

Timothy Tennent: She escorted me up to Sims Conference Room. I spent probably … I don’t know, an hour and a half, two hours with the faculty, and had a really good talk with them.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: They later conveyed their thoughts to the board, which apparently were positive. That’s what finally clenched it, that we said, okay, we’ll come.

Heidi: Yeah. We’re really glad that you did. Very glad that you did. Thank you for sharing that story, too. That’s really funny.

Timothy Tennent: January of 2009 that happened.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah.

Heidi: Yeah. Now-

Timothy Tennent: In fact, that’s the thing that Jim said about being seen. He said … When I had to walk from Subway. He said, “If I’m seen campus with a spotted dog, they’ll think that’s the next president.”

Timothy Tennent: He was determined not to be seen publicly with me.

Heidi: I love that. I also love how you were really committed to meeting with the faculty. I think that speaks to your love for building an organization and building relationships with the people who are going to be working for you.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah.

Heidi: I know that you travel a lot. We talked a little bit about that off the podcast. I know that I personally get really absorbed in the American version of Christianity. I know that different cultures … It’s one Jesus. I’m not saying anything like that. What can Christians in America learn from Christians in other parts of the world?

Timothy Tennent: I think that it’s great when fresh eyes read the scriptures, and they come at the word of God with their own different experiences in life, and expectations, et cetera. I think that you just learn a lot. I think, for me, it actually … My interest in global Christianity was birthed out of failure.

Heidi: Really?

Timothy Tennent: I was asked in the early 80s to come to India. I’d been to India before, I went there to actually teach in a program. I had been a pastor. I’d been preaching, teaching regularly. I felt I was pretty, reasonably good at that. I got to India, and I’m going to teach a class, and I could tell I just wasn’t communicating. It wasn’t connecting. The reason’s because I was bringing my world view, what I thought were … Basically, I was answering questions that they didn’t have. Right?

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: They would ask questions and they were questions I’d never even thought of. You know?

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: What happened was, I think in some way, I used to always say my whole life was, in some way, a response to the fact that I’d gone to India and had such a difficult experience my first time there.

Heidi: How so?

Timothy Tennent: It made me ask new questions. It made me say why is it that the same gospel being brought to India, you can have an experience where you could communicate it so well to an American audience, but not be communicated very well in a different audience? What is that? Well, it’s because we are living people with their own background, and history, and questions, and issues, and how culture has shaped the problems that we face, and how we solve problems.

Timothy Tennent: I eventually did my doctoral work in Christianity in India, and how the gospel is communicated in a Hindu context, which made me interested. It has had endless ah-ha moments, how the gospel can be communicated better in that situation. It explained why Indians asked the questions that they did. Just for example, a really big burning issue in India has to do with food sacrifice to idols. It’s a big thing.

Heidi: Oh, yes.

Timothy Tennent: Should you eat or not eat? You can’t say it’s not in scripture, because Paul addresses it in 1 Corinthians 8.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: It was never mentioned in a class I’ve ever had at seminary.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: Never.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: If you say, “Well, you shouldn’t.”

Timothy Tennent: Okay. Again, the problem with that is, that on the one hand, if you say you eat food sacrificed to idols, it’s like, are you participating with demons, or idol worship? If you say you don’t, what does this mean to the people in the culture? In that culture, when food is sacrificed to idols, they take it from the temple because idols obviously can’t eat, and they take it around to their friends as an act of hospitality.

Heidi: Okay.

Timothy Tennent: The way you encounter food sacrificed to idols is actually not in a temple somewhere, but actually you do experience it in your home. Someone will knock on your door and offer you food.

Heidi: You might not know where it came from.

Timothy Tennent: You may not know where it came from, but generally, you know that’s where it came from. If you said no, I don’t want the food, then a Christian might interpret it as they’re just resisting idols. On the other hand, they take it that you don’t want friendship.

Heidi: Right. A personal offense, yeah.

Timothy Tennent: Which is obviously … Yeah, a personal offense. That’s just one of many, many examples. I spent years working in India, over many years. I learned a lot more of how to see Christianity through Indian eyes, and the things that helped them. Eventually, I became very comfortable with it, working with Indian Christians.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I eventually evolved in church planning training. Also, I spent a lot of time … I would spend … Half my time, I would spend in the seminary, teaching. Then I would spend another maybe five or six weeks visiting in the field, different church plants.

Heidi: Over in India?

Timothy Tennent: In India. It’s Indian. These are people that were my students in the previous years, who are now doing church planting.

Heidi: Oh, wow. You can see …

Timothy Tennent: I would go out and visit them.

Heidi: Yeah, the fruit of your teaching. Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: And say, “Okay, how’s it going? What’s working, what’s not working?”

Timothy Tennent: Every year, we would have a big seminar. We’d bring the heads … We had church planters, over church planters, but the people that were the senior leaders. There were about 15 of them. We’d bring them together for just long weekend conversations. Extremely enlightening.

Heidi: Yeah. What did you learn about God that you wouldn’t have known just in America?

Timothy Tennent: Just that the Lord is the Lord of all nations. You know? The gospel’s good news to everybody.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I think, in some ways, you’re just seeing how the gospel unfolds. One example, I was in Brazil this past January. The United Methodist Church is going through all these struggles right now. You go to a conference. It can be very dysfunctional. People fighting, people arguing. I get on a plane, and I go down to Brazil. There, you have these amazing meetings of Methodists. Planning, church planting strategy, these amazing worship service that are vibrant and exciting. They wanted me to come and talk about the great commission. How they can meet … Bring more people to Christ.

Heidi: Yes.

Timothy Tennent: I was out doing … We were doing the … In the Barrios, where you were bringing … We had these ministries that brought food to inner-city … People that were in poverty. We were delivering hundreds of meals. The whole thing was just showing that wow, a church that’s healthy and vibrant, what does it look like? It’s actually very good, because you can forget and think that the church you’re in … Every church has problems, including the Brazilian church. They come here and see our strengths. We also go there and we see their weakness and their strengths. In a way, it helps you to get a better … View of the body of Christ, as a whole.

Timothy Tennent: I found, generally speaking, a lot of American blind spots, were actually spots where Indians are very insightful.

Heidi: Really?

Timothy Tennent: The things that they have blind spots on are strengths for us.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: That’s a positive thing.

Heidi: We can strengthen each other.

Timothy Tennent: For example, on the positive side, on the American side, I love … America is part of global Christianity. I think Americans have really a great gift in organizing things. We’re good organizers. In India, we had a huge need for translation work. We were always trying to find, get materials in Hindi we could use that were appropriate for witnessing, for children, for Sunday schools, for higher theological education, everything. There was just very, very little available.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: For years, it bothered me that we had people that were so gifted, who were perfectly bilingual. We even had funding available, but we just couldn’t get it done. Couldn’t get it done. Finally, I realized at some point, I must have been seven or eight years into it. I realized the problem is, there’s nobody to organize it. I can do that. I started an organization dedicated to translating materials into Hindi. We created this huge vision map of four different levels of translation work. We eventually got donations. We had this big lab full of people working, doing translation work. One of our students here was once part of that.

Heidi: Oh, yeah.

Timothy Tennent: He was one of our best translators in that work. We started churning all this material that’s been a huge blessing to the church.

Heidi: Yes.

Timothy Tennent: Hundreds of materials and things. It happened because I realized the piece was that no one had really taken time to organize it, and show how they can do it. They were doing all the work.

Heidi: Right. That’s amazing.

Timothy Tennent: I was just the organizing force behind all that.

Heidi: That’s amazing.

Timothy Tennent: That was very gratifying, because I realized this is … I think it’s a mistake for western Christians to say some version of, “This is the day of global Christianity. Our day is over, we have nothing to contribute.” I think, really, the period where … Maybe 19th Century, where we felt like we were the only ones that were doing anything worthwhile. People said you’re parachuting down and telling the rest of world how to do Christianity, which is true.

Timothy Tennent: There was a period where they grew up and matured, and we backed off. Oh, well, now this is the day for African Christians, and the Chinese Christians. They’re taking the world, and we’re just over here surviving. Actually, we continue to have an important role to play, collaboratively, in the global church. That’s been a big part of my life I want to carry to Asbury, trying to bring together what we have and what God’s done at Asbury Seminary to strengthen the church, but also validate, and call forth, and strengthen the gifts and what we can learn.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: We had one of our professors who was very, very reticent about going overseas to teach. I kept trying to get him to go, and he finally agreed to go. Very reluctantly, because he just wasn’t comfortable. It was out of his comfort zone.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: It’s not a faculty course he does all the time. He came back, and I said, “How was it?”

Timothy Tennent: He said, “I’ll never teach the same again.”

Heidi: No.

Timothy Tennent: He, himself, had been changed.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: That’s the power of the whole thing. It works both ways. As we travel the world, on every continent, and had a lot of experience with the church around the world, and we lived in different continents, as well, in Asia and Europe. In the process, we’ve learned a lot about the church, and that’s been very helpful at Asbury Seminary.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.

Timothy Tennent: I think Asbury Seminary has to be more and more of a globally-minded situated place if we’re going to thrive.

Heidi: Absolutely. Yeah. How did you first get involved in your mission work in India? You still teach in India on a regular basis, right?

Timothy Tennent: I do, I do. 35 years now. It actually happened, amazingly again, through one of these situations where something happens, a given day as a pastor, where you don’t think it was a big deal, but it was a big deal. I was always a lover of World Vision, so we were supporting a child, or something, through World Vision, some work they were doing. We got the World Vision magazine. I was a pastor in Georgia. This was probably 1983, 84.

Timothy Tennent: I got this magazine. I opened it up, and it told this story about this employee of World Vision, Indian man, who had grown up in India, who wanted to go back to India to start a school and a church planting ministry. He was still in California, trying to raise a vision. My wife and I … Her great-aunt had worked in India. We had a long interest in India. I’d been there once. My wife and I both have been there in ’83. Basically, we were praying for India. I really had a burden for seeing indigenous Indians raised up, because I knew that the missionaries had been kicked out of India in the ’70s.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: Basically, I just sat down one day. I can’t imagine why I even did it, but I just wrote a letter to them. The old-fashioned letter.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: Dear George, I saw your article, really encouraged by it. I think we probably put a check for $100, or something, in there and mailed it. It was a very modest thing. He calls me up at some point, a few weeks later, and said “I’m going to be in Georgia.”

Timothy Tennent: He was traveling the country, trying to raise money and vision. He said, “I’d like to come and see you.”

Timothy Tennent: I said, “Sure.”

Timothy Tennent: I’d never met him in my life. He came by my house. In those days, because we had one small child, I would get up really early in the morning, and go over to the church to pray, and then come back for breakfast. I’m still a big believer in early morning prayer. That’s my time I don’t get at night.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: Anyway. I got up that morning and I said to George the night before, “I’m going to leave the house really early. Do you want to go over and pray?”

Timothy Tennent: He goes, “I do.”

Timothy Tennent: Got up in the morning, went over to a freezing cold church.

Heidi: You have a pattern of freezing cold.

Timothy Tennent: We had this little space heater, but it didn’t have any central heating. We sat next to the space heater. That was … When I was used to this, I would sit and huddle by the space heater, and pray. We’re praying about things. Again, I felt the Lord just prompt me to say something to him. I turned to him, in that cold church, and I said to him, “George, the Lord is prompting me to ask you. He’s telling me I should help you.”

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: How could I help you? I was so sure he would say some version of “I need to raise money to start this school. Could you please find some donors,” or whatever. That kind of thing. Instead he said, “Would you come to India and help me teach?”

Heidi: Wow.

Timothy Tennent: I was like …

Heidi: Not what you were expecting. That was a little more personal.

Timothy Tennent: I know. Yeah. Me, doing something.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I agreed to come to India. That’s when I had this experience, where wow … It was such a challenge for me to do this, and to learn about this. I eventually … Not just eventually, immediately began to go every year, to the present day.

Heidi: That’s awesome. You mentioned a couple of times hearing from God, and you talked about how you hear from God. What are some ways, if you’re just starting out trying to hear from God, that you can learn to hear his voice and know that you’re hearing from him, and it’s not just your circumstances, or you’re twisting what you want … The direction you want your life to go? To actually to know, this is where God is leading, so I know if I’m going this way, I’m doing the right thing.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah, it’s a good question. Obviously, I think we get … Most of our direction comes from what my wife and call laying the tracks, which means laying the daily practices in place, so that when you need to hear from God, you’re in a position to that.

Heidi: Okay.

Timothy Tennent: What happens if you wait until you’re like, I need to find a job, or I need to … Should I marry this person, or not? Whatever. It’s the wrong time to go and ask, because you haven’t laid the tracks. It’s like putting a train out on the field, saying go across the field. It won’t work.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: In order to lay tracks, you have to create daily rhythms, being before God, and spending time in His word. I’m a very strong believer in the importance of that, and starting the day with that. My wife and I have always done that, our whole married life together. As you spend time in prayer, the Lord will … As you read, simply you’re prompted. It’s oftentimes things that you don’t feel normally like you want to do.

Timothy Tennent: For example, I had a situation. We’ve all had this situation, too, I’m sure. You had a situation at church where something happened, or something was said. It could be in your family, where words were spoken, where you need … Things are not right. You just know things are not right.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: It doesn’t mean you had a big blow out fight, but you just know that something was wrong. Next thing, you see the person and you’re going to feel a little weird. Right?

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: The Lord prompts you and says, “You need to get that right.”

Heidi: I used to hate that voice.

Timothy Tennent: What’s that?

Heidi: I used to … Not hate. That’s too strong a word, but I used to be like, “Oh man, you’re telling me again. I’ve got to go.”

Timothy Tennent: That is a great example because you know that’s from the Lord. You know that’s from God.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: It’s not like someone saying something that could be, well, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. You know the Lord is committed to reconciliation.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: As you practice those things … I remember one time, I was in a hospital, and I really felt the Lord telling me to go into this ICU unit, and go, and pray with this man. I didn’t know who he was, but it was just a clear … I later realized, after I went in there, this was an important thing to do. Over time, you develop sensitivities because you’re laying the tracks for it through daily life.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: Also, to be fair, I’ve had many times where the Lord has prompted me to do something, where I did not do it. I just … No, I don’t want to do that. I don’t know. There’s a lot of reasons you rationalize.

Heidi: Yes.

Timothy Tennent: When that happens, you later realize … Generally speaking, you realize it really was a mistake that I didn’t do that. Sometimes, it causes more pain later. You learn also that negative. I don’t want convey the idea that God speaks to me like you and I are speaking, and I’m like, everything is …

Heidi: I wish he did. Although, I’d be a little freaked out if tomorrow morning when I wake up, it was like, “Hey, Heidi. This is what I have for you today.”

Timothy Tennent: We’ve had huge times we felt the silence of God. We’ve had prayers that we have been earnestly praying for years. I mean, years. Some of them over a decade, where God is not answering the prayer. We have situations where … We had one situation where I felt a real call from God. To me, out of all the things that the Lord spoke to me, I felt like it was so clear. I was to resign my job and go to Nigeria.

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Timothy Tennent: I was like, you’re to do this. I had two small children. I resigned my job. I had the opportunity, again, I didn’t apply for the job. They came to me for this opportunity with this organization, now called Global Scholars. We went to Nigeria and the whole thing exploded.

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Timothy Tennent: It was a disaster. It just exploded. My wife and children were still in the US, they hadn’t moved over yet. I went over early to get the house ready. It all exploded. There was a coup in the government.

Heidi: Oh my goodness.

Timothy Tennent: It was just a disaster. I was kicked out of the country.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I came back home and it was like, what was that about?

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I felt so clear that God had called us there.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: What I realized was that all the tumult that we went through, God was teaching me other lessons I needed to learn, preparing me for my future, actually. Sometimes, the way I like to put it is, whenever you find a no in your life, or something blows up or doesn’t go right, or you think it should go so and so, that God’s no is always his deeper yes. Looking back now on that experience, that’s been many years ago, it was in the early ’90s, I now see that it was God’s yes in my life. He wanted me to go through that experience. It was part of his formation for me. I had to learn to trust him through that. If it wasn’t for that experience, I wouldn’t have ended up, for example, at Toccoa Falls College, which was my first teaching position.

Timothy Tennent: Things happen because of that experience.

Heidi: Yeah. Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I look back and say, as horrible and painful as that was, where in the moment I felt like God’s gone silent. He told me to do something, I did it. I obeyed him. I remember one night, being in our apartment, and I was … My wife and I, we had left. Our furniture was gone, we sold it, and all that, to go there. We had given up our pension plan. We had no support, no salary. We were literally sitting in these folding chairs in this apartment.

Timothy Tennent: I said to Julie, I said, “The Lord said he who trusts in the Lord will not be disappointed. I have trusted in the Lord and I’m very disappointed.”

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: It’s the reality of this is how I felt.

Heidi: Yeah, I was going to ask you. Why did you keep … I’m glad you did, but why do you keep believing? You trusted in God and you were disappointed. I’m sure you’ve been disappointed other times in your life. God is a good God, but sometimes we are disappointed. How do you reconcile those things?

Timothy Tennent: That night when I said to my wife, I said if the Lord could just explain to me why all this happened to us. Here I was, thinking about this. We had children. We didn’t have a job. I had no income. I had no money in the bank. We were … Ironically, we were at home within Georgia, and I had gone to the … I looked up in the paper, there was no online in those days. I called and find out what it cost to rent a U-Haul to go back to Georgia.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: $380. We didn’t have $380. I didn’t even know how to get out of my apartment and go back home. I couldn’t get home. I was stuck in Princeton, New Jersey.

Heidi: That’s terrible.

Timothy Tennent: Julie said to me that night, she said, “The Lord doesn’t owe us an explanation. We’re his servants. Let’s just keep following him.”

Timothy Tennent: I’ll never forget, because the Lord was just beginning to show signs, for example. We said okay, Lord. We’re going to trust you. We have no idea what’s going on. We’re part of this Bible study. They took up a collection for us. They gave us the money we needed to get down to Georgia, and the DS appointed me to a church, and things all unfolded. All things worked out great. We’ve had a lot of things like that over the years, and we just … Now, our faith is to the point where I just know the Lord is, in the long run, doesn’t disappoint you.

Heidi: That … Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: Our disappointment is his appointment. You just have to believe that, even in struggles. Nevertheless, why I think the Psalms are meaningful to us, the Psalms are very earthy. They teach us to be honest before God.

Heidi: Yes.

Timothy Tennent: You don’t have to put a smiley face on this. Say, “Lord, I’m really disappointed here. This is not right.”

Heidi: Yes. I love that.

Timothy Tennent: We’ve had painful chapters at Asbury Seminary, as well. Through it all, I look back and say God’s been faithful.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). He has and He is. You mentioned Julie several times. How did you meet, if I could ask?

Timothy Tennent: We met the way everyone should meet, in seminary. Just like you. We did. In those days, I was at Gordon-Conwell. There were very few women in seminary those days. It was a very small population of women. Of course, school starts in the fall, like it does now. Julie came in January, in the middle of the year. When she arrived, everyone noticed her. If I had a … Early on, I had a class … We had a class together. It was a huge class. I didn’t notice her in the class because there was 100 and some odd number people. A J-term class.

Timothy Tennent: The second or third day of the class, there was a field trip to go out to Salem, Massachusetts, which ironically, is famous in mission circles. That’s where the first missionaries were sent out from America, Adoniram Judson. We went to that church, where he was commissioned, as part of the field trip. I was there on the front row of the church when the professor said, “Julie, would you please come forward and play the piano?” We were going to sing a hymn. I had never even seen her. She sat down. My first sight of seeing Julie was playing the piano.

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Timothy Tennent: If you’ve ever seen Julie play the piano, it’s love at first sight. I noticed her. The next day or so, I introduced myself to her. My prayer group had a … We all went to … We did Friday night events, and we would do things together. I invited her to a joint event, and that started our time together.

Heidi: Yeah, and the rest is history.

Timothy Tennent: The rest is history.

Heidi: I love that. I love that. You talked about being a builder earlier, in an organization, and things like that. You also do woodworking. You build with your hands, as well, as in an organization?

Timothy Tennent: That’s right. That’s my personality type. Raw materials into finished materials.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: I do. I enjoy … When I first came to the Seminary, it was funny because I had all kinds of woodworking tools, and construction tools. I thought I just don’t need those to be president at Asbury. I just sold them or gave them away.

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Timothy Tennent: I came here with nothing like that. I thought I don’t have time for it, or whatever. I got here, and very early on, I noticed there was a big upstairs attic at Rose Hill, above the kitchen. They built the kitchen in 2001, onto the Seminary’s house. Big open attic area that just was dying to be finished off. I just couldn’t help myself. I started buying stuff and getting new tools, and finishing that off. I put a … Built a workshop in the basement of Rose Hill.

Timothy Tennent: I don’t know if you know, but behind Rose Hill, there was a garage for cars and then there’s a little storage room that used to be … I think years ago, there was helpers that lived back there. I got in there and took out the back wall, put in a big window in there to see out those pastures, and there’s a bathroom in there. It’s a nice office. A lot of times … As you know, I preach here a lot. I’ve never written a sermon on this campus in my 10 years here.

Heidi: Really?

Timothy Tennent: Never. There’s no way I can write a sermon on campus.

Heidi: Yeah, everybody’s … Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: My office is in too much of a hub of activity. I go over there, particularly on Fridays, and I do all my writing of sermons, and other than I just need to focus on projects in that office at Rose Hill. I did that renovation work. I enjoy that kind of thing. Again, it’s taking something and improving it. It’s all part of the same thing.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: When I was in that three-year program I mentioned earlier, how to be a president, the whole thing was designed around an architectural theme.

Heidi: Wow, that is perfect.

Timothy Tennent: They were comparing building seminaries to construction, and all. We actually read books, not on theology education, but on architecture.

Heidi: That is right up your alley.

Timothy Tennent: There was one book called “The Timeless Way of Building.” It’s a famous book in the architectural world, which I read, which was a transformative book for me. It teaches you how to walk into any house, or any building, and look around, and notice what’s beautiful about it, and what really needs a second look.

Heidi: Wow.

Timothy Tennent: They determined that there’s certain patterns in housing, and all, that are true all over the world. Why do people respond to certain spaces? What are the spaces people avoid? This book lays out the theory of all that.

Heidi: Interesting.

Timothy Tennent: They applied it to how you walk into seminary, and look around, and say this is working, this needs love, this is a problem. Part of my life as a president is finding problems and solving them, getting strategies to improve it.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: It’s really very similar.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah.

Heidi: Are you working on anything right now?

Timothy Tennent: I am. We have this cabin, I told you, down there. One of the many problems it had, it had no screens in the windows.

Heidi: That’s a huge problem.

Timothy Tennent: A huge problem, right? I decided, rather than buy screens or whatever, I would make all the screens for it. Just recently, I finished making screens for the whole house.

Heidi: That’s incredible. How did you learn how to do this?

Timothy Tennent: Well, essentially, my dad was a printer. We all grew up working with our hands, so we’re good with hand-type things. That’s in our brains, or whatever. My dad had a doctor friend of his, who had money to invest, but didn’t want to get into real estate, because he didn’t want the hassle. Renters, fixing things, and all that. My dad went into partnership with this dentist. The dentist would provide the money, and we would do all the grunt work, the labor, keeping track of the tenants, and all the repair work.

Timothy Tennent: You would not believe. They eventually owned quite a few homes. Once people moved out, sheet rock was destroyed, plumbing bad. On Saturday morning, we had a family tradition. We got up on Saturday morning, we all ate together as a family at a restaurant called Hickory House in Atlanta. We got up early in the morning, went out, and we had a great breakfast together as a family, and then we would … The boys, there were three boys, we would go and my dad would take us to one of these houses to work on the house.

Heidi: Wow.

Timothy Tennent: I had to learn how to do plumbing, electrical, sheet rock, you name it.

Heidi: You were like … Have you heard of the show Fixer Upper with Chip and Jo.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah.

Heidi: Yeah, you were Fixer Upper before Fixer Upper.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right. Over many years doing that, I learned to gain those skills. I can fix things.

Heidi: That’s awesome. I love that. I would love to be able to know how to do things. I like working with my hands, too. My dad was a mechanic, so I think it got handed down.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah, that’s the same gift.

Heidi: I don’t … I haven’t honed any of the skills to be able to do it. Those are the things I like to do.

Timothy Tennent: My father is now with the Lord, but my mother is in her 90s, still lives in the same house where we grew up. She has a list of things she keeps that have to be fixed. Just to give you a recent, this past month, I went to Indian Springs to preach for 10 days. It passes through Atlanta. My mother says to me, before I left Atlanta, says, “Bring your plumbing supplies.”

Timothy Tennent: She had a toilet upstairs that was … The whole thing that refills the tank had split open and was spraying water everywhere. It was a disaster. I brought all my plumbing stuff down there, took out all of her bad stuff, put new stuff, and then put it all together again. On the way down to Indian Springs.

Heidi: Oh, wow.

Timothy Tennent: I still have my house calls for my dear mother.

Heidi: Aw, I love that. What a gift to still have her and to be able to do for her.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah, it’s a great gift. She’s very active and it’s a blessing to have my mother.

Heidi: Yeah. As we wrap up our podcast, we have three questions that we ask everybody who comes on the podcast. Since it’s called the Thrive Podcast, what is a practice, it can be spiritual or otherwise, that is helping you thrive in your life right now?

Timothy Tennent: Whenever I get asked that question, I would say the number one thing in my life that’s helped me to thrive, especially since 2012, is daily Psalm singing.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: My wife and I get up every morning, we spend time singing the Psalms. It’s been a really great spiritual practice for us. We highly recommend it.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: It’s a practice that’s unknown to many people. They find it unusual. All the Psalms are now in metrical form, which allows them to sung to hymn tunes, or choruses that are done with regular meter. We do that. God’s used that in our lives.

Heidi: That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. I know, as president, you’re very busy. Are you reading any books right now? If so, what are you reading?

Timothy Tennent: I read a lot of books. I love to read, and I have to read for my job. I try to read different kinds of books. For example, right now, I’ve been reading … They just put a new book out on Biblical theology, looking at what ties all the scriptures together. As you know, last year, I did a series called Acts. I read a lot in Craig Keener’s commentaries on Acts. Right now, I’m preparing a series on the means of grace. I’ve re-read all that Wesley’s written on the means of grace in his sermons.

Timothy Tennent: Also, I like to read things that are new to me, like things I wouldn’t normally read, but I need to read. This past weekend, for example, I read the book “Listening to Sexual Minorities” by Steve Stratton. A new book of research. It basically asks college students that are struggling with their sexuality, or their gender, what’s going in their mind? How they think about that in relationship to the Bible, to faith. A lot of these are really deeply committed Christians who are trying to reconcile some challenge they have in their life. That’s a world that I need to know more about, so I read a book on that this weekend.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: I’m constantly reading things that help me make good decisions for the Seminary.

Heidi: You’re writing a book right now.

Timothy Tennent: I’m writing a book on the theology of the body right now.

Heidi: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Timothy Tennent: For Zondervan and for Seedbed. It’s a book that basically … The problems I think we have as a culture now, is that we’ve fixated on … Particularly, same sex marriage, and those types of issues. Homosexuality as if this is an isolated problem, rather than a large problem, dealing with how Christians view the body. It goes into everything like adultery, fornication. A huge percentage of young people today, I think it’s 90% of young adults will now have sex prior to marriage. You have huge problems with adultery, about 25% of couples have had adulterous relationships.

Timothy Tennent: The pornography use among young people is extremely … A lot of people, are extremely high. It’s a whole landscape of brokenness that has all kinds of implications. It’s a first-person killing in gaming things, where you actively kill people in gaming, video games, and so forth. It’s a lot of stuff. Doctor assisted suicide. I could go and on. Trans-humanism. There’s no end to all these things. It’s really … I think the church has felt like we’re fighting 15 battles. No, it’s one thing. It’s our theology of the body. We’ve not developed it well. We’re having a lot of challenges to it.

Timothy Tennent: Part of my goal in this book is try to look at some of the underlying theological issues that give rise to these things, so that Christians won’t be just simply saying that we’re against this, we’re against this, we’re against this. What is the vision? What are we for? What is the grand vision of wholeness that is going to make us, make human flourishing?

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: I believe that the gospel, after all is said and done, the gospel is in some ways the greatest self-interest, because it does help us flourish. God made us, designed us. We don’t want to view it as something we’re against. The book is trying to accomplish some of that.

Heidi: I love that. A lot of that, I know growing up, very little of that got talked about. That was just pretty normal. I think that’s giving rise to some of the issues that we have today, because we don’t have a well-grounded theology of our bodies and sexuality, and things like that.

Heidi: When do you expect your book to come out?

Timothy Tennent: That’s a good question. Probably, it’ll come out sometime in 2020. Exactly when, I don’t know.

Heidi: Okay.

Timothy Tennent: Sometime in 2020.

Heidi: Well, we’ll look forward to that.

Timothy Tennent: If I had more time, I could finish it up and get it in there.

Heidi: Right.

Timothy Tennent: In their inbox from my inbox.

Heidi: Right. I know writing is a joy when it’s done. Maybe the process is … Sometimes, you’re like oh, is it ever going to happen? Yeah. We’ll look forward to 2020, then.

Timothy Tennent: Thank you.

Heidi: What is one thing that you want to do, or a place you want to visit that’s still on your bucket list?

Timothy Tennent: That’s a great question. Believe it, or not, I would really like to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Heidi: Really?

Timothy Tennent: Yeah.

Heidi: Have you ever done anything like that before?

Timothy Tennent: I’ve done a lot of hiking and climbing over the years. I’m now … I’m turning 60 just next week, so I’m like …

Heidi: Happy early birthday.

Timothy Tennent: September 24th. Next month, I mean. I’m not sure of my physical capabilities. I’ll have to check in to see if it’s possible. My wife and I, we enjoy hiking. If we have weekends free, we go hiking. I hiked a lot in Georgia.

Heidi: I didn’t know that.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah, we love hiking. Our vacation is … Ideal vacation is not to go to a Marriott and sit by a pool. That’s not our … Our vacation is to go to mountains and hike. We love hiking, and camping, and all that.

Heidi: That’s great.

Timothy Tennent: Mt. Kilimanjaro, if you’ve ever seen it, is like no other mountain in the world. If you go to Mt. Everest, or some of these big mountains, K2, they’re in the middle of a range of mountains. If you look at Mt. Everest, you don’t really see it. You don’t see the top. Okay, it’s above the other ones, but you don’t really see Mt. Everest.

Timothy Tennent: Mt. Kilimanjaro is on the plain. It separates Kenya and Tanzania. You have this whole Serengeti plain. There’s this mountain that’s just sitting there. It absolutely takes your breath away, the sheer size of it.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: You see it from top to bottom. It’s very rare to have that experience.

Heidi: Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: Our daughter lives in Tanzania, so we go there every year, or so.

Heidi: Okay.

Timothy Tennent: Every year, or two. We get to go visit her. I was there this November. I’ve seen the mountain several times, and said, “You know what? I’d like to climb that mountain.”

Heidi: Yeah. Well, you should. It could be what you do for your birthday.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah, that’s right. I hope that someday I’ll … Do it in the next five or six years.

Heidi: I hope you get the opportunity to do that.

Timothy Tennent: Thank you.

Heidi: What are some of the places that you’ve hiked that you’ve really enjoyed?

Timothy Tennent: We’ve been … I’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail, big portions of that, all in Georgia and North Carolina. I’ve hiked a lot of the Appalachian Trail up in New England. I’ve done a lot of hiking in the swamps. I have a big interest in the swamps, too.

Heidi: Really?

Timothy Tennent: Yeah.

Heidi: When I hear the word swamp, I think of snakes and alligators.

Timothy Tennent: Yeah, that’s true,

Heidi: Is it scary?

Timothy Tennent: No. They have these … Okefenokee Swamp has these trails through the swamps. When I was a young person, I ordered all of the maps, the geographical maps of all the swamps. I taped them all together, and I decided to create a bucket list of going through all the swamps. There’s all these islands in the swamps. There’s new islands, Bugaboo Islands. I’ve hiked through all those swamp islands.

Heidi: Wow.

Timothy Tennent: I’d go down to Fargo. It’s now Stephen C. Foster State Park. You can get permits to go in there and spend time in the swamps, hiking and canoeing.

Heidi: Oh, that sounds fun. Yeah.

Timothy Tennent: You can move from island to island. There’s one island called Billy’s Island, where an entire family lived. There was a whole history of this family that lived there. I went to where they lived, and I dug up, and found some remains, some artifacts, and all.

Heidi: Wow.

Timothy Tennent: It was a train that used to go there to mine the cypress trees, and all that. There’s a train history there. I love things like that. We’ve been out, of course, west to Yosemite, of course. We hiked a lot out there. I was a Boy Scout, so I went to Philmont Scout Ranch and hiked the Tooth of Time, and made the terrible mistake of I was so overzealous on hiking that … We got to the Tooth of Time, which is this massive rock formation in New Mexico. I was so eager, I convinced our troop to do it at the end of the day, rather than wait until the next day, next morning, do it fresh.

Timothy Tennent: We all agreed. We tried to cross the Tooth of Time in the evening, and a huge lightning storm broke out.

Heidi: Oh my goodness.

Timothy Tennent: Massive, thunderous bolts of lightning hit all around us.

Heidi: I am terrified of lightning.

Timothy Tennent: We literally hid under the rocks, under pouring down rain, with thunder just … I realized I’m about to die. This is it. This is the end of my life. I had a lot of amazing moments hiking.

Heidi: Yes, it sounds like it.

Timothy Tennent: You learn a few … It’s great being in Kentucky, because our son lives here. He and his wife are also big hikers. We’ll go to the Gorge a lot.

Heidi: Oh, that’s great.

Timothy Tennent: To be right here in Kentucky, and to be so close in the Palisades.

Heidi: Yeah, there’s some beautiful places to hike.

Timothy Tennent: Some great outside hikes around here, yeah.

Heidi: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Tennent. I really enjoyed our conversation, and appreciate you being on the podcast today.

Timothy Tennent: Thanks, Heidi. Anytime.

Heidi: Thank you.

Heidi: Hey, ya’ll. Thank you so much for joining me for today’s conversation with Dr. Tennent. Just so grateful for his time and for his leadership at Asbury Seminary, and just really appreciate the conversation today, and getting to … Just get to know a little bit more about him. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I really enjoyed it. If you like what you heard, we hope that you’ll subscribe to our podcast. We’ll be releasing new podcast episodes every other week. There may be some surprise episodes along the way, so you’ll want to be sure to subscribe to get those when they drop.

Heidi: In our next episode, Reverend Jessica LaGrone, Dean of Chapel at Asbury Seminary joins us to talk about her calling, community, and my favorite, the enneagram. Be sure to subscribe and listen to that when it drops. As always, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @asburyseminary, and we’ll link all that in the show notes, too. Have a great day, ya’ll, and go do something that helps you thrive.