Just before Christmas, Bryan College lost a long-time employee and a dear friend Jonathan Bacon. Bryan College is honored to announce the establishment of a scholarship in memory of Jonathan. Gifts in his memory will help fund this scholarship.
Jonathan started as a student at Bryan College in the Fall of 2002 and became a student worker in 2005. Later that year, he came on staff and was with us until his homegoing on December 21, 2022. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, family, and friends gathered to celebrate Jonathan’s life on December 28. Since then, it’s still been hard for us all to grasp that Jonathan won’t pop into your office, wave while walking down the hallway, or even leave a parking ticket on your windshield. The campus doesn’t seem quite right without him.
However, the reason for this is more than just his absence from his custodial duties, though the Operations staff has certainly felt this. Jonathan is missed for so much more than what he did for Bryan College—he is missed for who he was. He embodied what it means to be a servant leader. Jonathan was known on campus for doing menial tasks with excellence, attention to detail, and lack of applause. He was human and had his moments of grumbling like the rest of us, but he never asked to be recognized for the hard work he did day in and day out. And yet, somehow, he was recognized all over campus—for his love. It makes me think of the verse in John 13 when Jesus says, “By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35, ESV). Jonathan loved hard and loved well and never missed an opportunity to serve someone else.
As a sophomore at Bryan, I lost my grandfather to ALS. Jonathan had attended the church my grandfather pastored for years, and he loved him dearly. When he heard the news of my grandfather’s passing, he made sure to find me on campus and let me know that he was grieving with and praying for my family. And every year after that, on the anniversary, Jonathan was sure to find me—whether on campus as a student, on social media after graduating, or back on campus as a staff member—to let me know that he was thinking of and praying for my family that day. I felt “seen” in my grief, and it meant the world. This August, I’ll sorely miss that encouragement, but I’ll also smile thinking about Jonathan and my grandfather celebrating together in the presence of their Savior.
I’m not alone in my story. Countless other students, staff, and faculty have similar stories of how Jonathan encouraged them in difficult times, served them without hesitation, or ensured they were recognized on special days. Nearly everyone had a “Jonathan Bacon story.” It challenges me to consider how I’m living my life. Am I living for others or myself? Am I seeking applause for my work, or am I content to work as unto the Lord?
Our mission statement at Bryan College is to educate students to become servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world. As Jonathan knew all too well, serving others is a challenging and dirty task. This call to servant leadership is often easy for us when we are recognized and celebrated, but most of us grumble when we are treated as servants. Our platforms become idols, and our fame distracts us from the posture Christ has called us. The shared legacy for Christians should be nothing more than living in the shadow of our King.
When we lead like Jonathan Bacon, there will be no job too small and no job too dirty. We celebrate knowing that Jonathan was welcomed home by our Savior, saying, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”
The Jonathan Bacon Scholarship will be awarded to a student from a single-parent home and/or a student with a documented physical disability. This scholarship will continue Jonathan’s legacy of serving students in order to make a difference in their lives.
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