Encouraging 10,000+ government and nonprofit leaders across the globe
Around the world, public servants are working in government offices and nonprofit organizations to improve our cities and help people in need. Many of these senators, city managers, educators and other public servants start their day with a dose of inspiration through “The Christian Public Servant,” an email devotional published by Regent University’s Robertson School of Government (RSG). Since its first devotional went out on November 5, 2012, the recipient list has grown to more than 10,000 people on six continents.
Dr. James D. Slack, an RSG professor, developed the idea soon after joining Regent’s faculty in fall 2012. He knew from personal interactions that thought leaders in public service could use some words of encouragement to begin their day. He put out a call for devotionals and began collecting publicly registered names and emails of public and nonprofit websites. Since making the bold move to reach out to these officials, Slack has seen “The Christian Public Servant” readership grow quickly.
“The devotionals are no more than one page, and they are designed to be short enough to be read at a stoplight,” Slack explains. The brief inspirational emails are sent out around 5 a.m. each morning. Last year, 98 volunteer authors — including Regent students, faculty and staff, as well as public service employees around the world — wrote them. Volunteers are always needed.
Many people especially look forward to receiving the devotional on Fridays when Jimmy Davis Jr. writes. Davis is an inmate on death row in Alabama. Slack met him through Kairos Prison Ministry, and the two began exchanging letters. After reading some of the devotionals written by others, Davis wanted to try his hand. He quickly became a favorite among readers, even receiving “fan mail” from those touched by his words. Through the years, he and Slack have developed a very close bond.
“I consider Jimmy as one of my best friends,” Slack explains. “He is just an amazing servant of God, without asking for anything. He doesn’t talk about what he did. Kairos Ministry doesn’t ask that question. Our motto is ‘listen, listen, love, love.’ We bring the love of Christ to people.”
Slack often receives notes from senators and other recipients of the devotional thanking him and the authors for their messages. It not only provides a boost of encouragement to the writers, but also allows him the opportunity to promote Regent students to public officials who could become their future employers. Additionally, it allows students to build a network of professional contacts.
“When someone writes a ‘thank you’ for a devotional written by one of our students, I make it a point to mention that the particular author is one of our excellent students and should be considered when agency positions open up,” he notes. “It is helping both faculty and students build relationships with public servants around the world. God is using all aspects of this devotional ministry.”
Since the devotional is sent to publicly registered email addresses, Slack has encountered a few people who question receiving the unsolicited emails. He compares the practice to a missionary going door to door in a neighborhood. “This is based on the Great Commission,” he says. “That’s what we’re doing. We believe that the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution applies to us.”
Slack explains that the emails adhere to all the conditions set forth by the country’s federal “spam” law—though as a religious organization, Regent is exempt from these requirements. Readers can unsubscribe at any time, but Slack has found people are more likely to forward the email to friends.
A selection of the devotionals was recently published as a book, Devotions for the Christian Public Servant (Emeth Press), available on amazon.com. Slack plans to publish a similar collection annually. He is donating book royalties to RSG student scholarships and other RSG endeavors.
If you are interested in receiving The Christian Public Servant, please contact Dr. Slack at email@example.com. Perhaps you will be led to write one of the devotionals!