Attentiveness: Finishing Well - Gordon Conwell

Attentiveness: Finishing Well

Dr. Rodney Cooper with graduating students.


Dr. Scott W. Sunquist

Last week we celebrated, laughed (I mean really, deep and full-bodied Rodney Cooper laughs), cried, and prayed. It was a night of Carolina barbecue and sharing stories honoring one of the great retiring faculty of Gordon-Conwell, Dr. Rodney Cooper.[1]

Many told stories of how Dr. Cooper’s honesty, integrity, deep spirituality, and emotional intelligence have helped us in our lives. How does this happen? It is not accidental; it is intentional and purposeful. Because his life has been so focused, Dr. Cooper has been helpful to so many diverse people: men, women, young, old, students, staff, professional athletes, and faculty.

The words “friend,” “friendship,” and “love,” were used in the many Dr. Cooper testimonies that were given. He has become such a model and leader for so many because of his humility, rooted in a deep and abiding love of Jesus. Such humility is always open to learning from others.

At the end of the evening, after we had all shared our stories (many lives were redirected by this one man), Rodney shared what he has learned while being on the faculty at Gordon-Conwell. He has been attentive to all the relationships, issues, and movements through the years. When he shared these aphorisms I thought, “This is one of the best examples of Bobby Clinton’s little phrase, ‘Finishing Well,’[2] that I have ever heard.” So, as he was preparing to slide into “senior professor” status, Dr. Rodney Cooper finished well by sharing with us these gems about human life and relationships. I offer only a few of the thirty-eight lessons learned. Dr. Cooper calls them, “Key Thoughts.”

  • Seek first the Kingdom
  • Speak truth in love
  • Remember: low expectations and high hopes
  • Innocent until proven guilty
  • Assumptions are planned resentments
  • Obey, for there is no other way
  • Where God guides, he provides
  • Before God directs, he corrects
  • Fear leads to stupidity, and does strange things to a person’s mind
  • The 11th commandment: thou shall not be stupid
  • Every day I am going to worship, not to work
  • I am not in competition
  • Make no judgements where there is no compassion
  • Don’t let others determine your pace, or take away your peace
  • Worry is the waste of a good imagination

And there is much more. These little phrases come from years of working with people in community. They remind us of what really matters: staying focused on Jesus and saying “No” to our petty fears, what other say about us, and our deep-seated insecurities.

Thank you, Dr. Rodney Cooper for finishing well by passing on some of your wisdom. We look forward to more of your wisdom as you teach now as “Senior Professor Rodney Cooper.”



Scott W. Sunquist, the President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, writes a weekly blog, “Attentiveness” which is posted each Tuesday on the Gordon-Conwell web site. He welcomes comments, responses, and good ideas.


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