MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The University of Mobile prepares it graduates for their future careers and "other major roles."
Dr. Joe Savage, director of the University's Center for Leadership, said the expectation is for them to be a positive influence in the workplace, community and nation. Dr. Savage recently shared about his work to help develop these leaders, why they're needed and how his faith ushered in his career in ministry.
"Our parents were always there, they encouraged us to strive, that there was no such thing as a failure, to take some risks. But I think most importantly it was the Christian foundation. Certainly we had our issues but that solid foundation of faith was constant in our home," remembered Savage.
Dr. Savage is standing and still building on that foundation today. He believes lessons learned years ago, at home and in his family's business, were very important to his career path.
"Our summer jobs were there at the store, Gravely of Mobile Lawn and Garden Equipment, and some of the holidays. We learned about work, we learned about dealing with everyday people, we learned about leadership and morality, and doing things to the high level of character," stated Savage.
In high school at UMS-Wright, before it became co-ed, Savage felt a call on his life.
"At the age of 17 is where I really placed my faith in Christ. During that senior year, as that foundation was really built, I sensed God calling me into the ministry," reflected Savage.
Savage was willing, but internally he was wrestling with a major challenge - a speech impediment.
"I remember a time in middle school where I was a little embarrassed because I couldn't say a word correctly and I said, 'I'll never speak in public again.' And, I didn't all the way through high school unless I was called upon. I said to the Lord, 'Well I can't even talk right,'" shared Savage.
In college at Samford in Birmingham, while on a trip to the Soviet Union, Savage said he stepped into God's blessing.
"I was standing in Moscow, it was my turn to talk to some Olympian athletes, I got up with a translator and God greatly blessed it and I realized I don't have a speech problem. They don't understand I have this impediment and my confidence grew. I just began to speak more and more. God began to put it more and more into my heart, and just one thing led to another," Savage said.
Today, Dr. Savage speaks before classes and larger audiences. His media, public and ministry appearances and keynote addresses total nearly 1,900. His message of overcoming challenges and the need to develop leaders with character landed at the University of Mobile three years ago.
"Our economy had just tanked; a lot of that found its root in immorality and ethics. And so, a few years ago, I saw the need amongst leaders, corporate leaders, athletic leaders, church leaders etc., that they had to have a sense of morality, a sense of ethics or it was going to damage the whole country as we had just witnessed. What we're doing is to try and impact the country, be an influence from this little campus in north Mobile, to have a significant Christian influence nationally. It's not just about being a businessman or a teacher in the classroom, but it's about integrating their faith into that, into the workplace and doing things with excellence. But, also being an example to others of who Christ is," stated Dr. Savage.
The Center for Leadership is developing future pastors and church leaders.
"What we're doing here is redefining how you even teach ministry students how to prepare. Here's the biblical way to do it and academics is certainly a part of that, but its also having students out in the community. It's about leading in the community and being a spiritual emphasis and influence. Leaders bring solutions to problems and I'm trying to get our students to see how they can be a solution and which makes them a leader," Dr. Savage said.
Before his return to Mobile, Dr. Savage made a living speaking before influential leaders through his company, Winners Influence and Joe Savage Ministries. This work he loves even more, he said.
"What a privilege and a true honor to get to get up every day. I love coming to work, to influence these students on how to become a pastor, how to become a missionary, how to love people and make a difference in their life. And get to do that every day, it beats anything else I've ever done in my life," shared Dr. Savage.
Dr. Savage, a graduate of Mobile College, is also director of the University's "Twelve-23 Movement" which is a national grassroots effort to transform America.
From the age of five, Savage grew up in Cottage Hill Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. Fred Wolfe. Today, at Luke 4-18 Fellowship in west Mobile, he serves as Wolfe's Senior Associate Pastor. The congregation is preparing to move into its new sanctuary on Sollie Road in the next few weeks.
If Dr. Joe Savage "reminds" you of someone, he's the brother of the Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage.
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