Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing conversation at The King’s University about the big callings God has for us. Inspired by the moment on an airline when God called Pastor Jack Hayford to start TKU, we want to know: What’s your 30,000-foot calling?
When some of us hear how the Lord told Jack Hayford to start a seminary, while flying home from a Promise Keeper’s gathering in Atlanta in February 1996, we might imagine a dramatic moment like a voice from a burning bush or something equivalent to a bolt of lightning out of the blue. The reality is even more sublime. It was a moment when inner spiritual awareness and personal life experience intersected. What Jack Hayford heard aboard the plane at that time was a culmination of what he had heard and experienced over years. It was a moment of spiritual discernment distilled from a lifetime of listening to and following God’s direction.
Such discernment had been cultivated by listening to the Lord through many people and being sensitive to the Lord’s promptings in many places. It was nurtured by his mother, Dolores, for instance, who taught him humility and encouraged him to be teachable to God’s truths. It was strengthened when he looked over the San Fernando Valley one day and committed to the small Foursquare church in Van Nuys, California, where he was pastoring rather than reaching for more prominent ministry opportunities elsewhere. It was honed by his work at Life Bible College where he guided young men and women in their walk with God. And it was deepened at The School on the Way in the 1970s and 80s when he taught Church on the Way members how to live out the kingdom of God with one another and give a credible testimony of that kingdom to the world. This deepening discernment continued when he spoke at Lausanne II Congress on World Evangelization in Manila in 1989 and exhorted Christian leaders to embrace the healing and Christ-lifting ministry of the Spirit in all of its fullness as a testimony of God’s kingdom to the nations.
In his book, Pursuing the Will of God: Reflections and Meditations on the Life of Abraham, which was published the year The King’s College opened its doors in 1997, Pastor Jack comments on discernment when he writes: “Learning the Lord’s ways is more important than seeing His acts. … The ultimate desire of the Lord is finding people—and He found one in Abraham—who simply do whatever God says to do, right where they are” (168). He goes on to say that God’s call to Abraham to do the unimaginable and give his son Isaac as a sacrifice occurred after “Abraham had been walking with the Lord and listening to His voice for decades. … He was not the kind of person who gets some hairbrained idea in his head because it seems spiritual and goes streaking across the sky like a meteorite, only to fade in a silent fizzle. He was a man who knew the voice of His Lord” (172).
To launch The King’s College and Seminary might seem like a hairbrained idea for someone in his 60s at the time, if it were not for the fact that Jack Hayford had been walking with the Lord and listening to His voice for decades. And because of those decades he was willing and able to do the extraordinary thing he heard God tell him to do. The King’s University is almost 25 years old now and the thousands of graduates—college, masters, and doctoral, Jews and Gentiles, people from all continents, men and women, young and old—are all living testimonies to the fact that God found in Jack Hayford someone who had learned His ways and was willing to do what He wanted where he was.