Home E News E Journey of Impact: Stability Amid Chaos and the Path to Doctoral Achievement
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University, California

Upheaval in life and ministry isn’t typically a time someone would take on the financial and scholastic responsibility of a master’s program. Christopher Whyte, MA ’20, is an exception to that rule. But the beauty of his story lies not only in the obstacles overcame but the journey through his LPU master’s program which eventually led him to his current season of life – the simultaneous undertaking of a Master’s Degree in Strategic Leadership and a Ph.D. in Divinity at the University of St. Andrews in one of the most beautiful countries in the world – Scotland.

Christopher credits his current success in his doctoral program to the rigorous and thorough MA in Strategic Leadership program at Life Pacific University. “The MASL was so incredibly helpful for doctoral research,” he explains. “It set a standard of top-level research and excellence in my writing while encouraging a holistic view of learning that didn’t abandon family or health, and in all this kept Jesus at the center. That posture helped me to navigate a very challenging doctoral experience while making sure that my family and my faith were still priorities.”

Christopher’s academic undertaking at LPU during the global pandemic, a time in world history both tumultuous and uncertain, was both strategic and purposeful. “I chose LPU MASL because, at the time, I was in a moment of upheaval in life and ministry.” Christopher reminisces, “We were facing some real challenges economically, and at the same time I was asking some big questions spiritually.” His dilemma, one experienced by so many across the world, was met with an opportunity. “The MASL offered help with both professional developments that could open doors to additional professional opportunities, and a world-class faculty that could help me find answers to the big questions I was asking.”

The world-class faculty he refers to are the faculty in graduate academics at Life Pacific University who are dedicated to the success of the many men and women who bravely take on the adventure of a biblically based post-secondary education in a new post-pandemic world. Since 2012, the university has offered this high-quality graduate degree option to adult learners like Christopher who seek to pursue more for themselves academically, spiritually, and professionally, while maintaining ministry, professional, or familial responsibilities. Christopher’s own beautiful family (pictured) is still young, and currently experiencing life a world apart from LPU’s primary campus in San Dimas, CA. “I’m married to Allene and have two kids—Ruthie (4) and Jordy (7)—we live in St. Andrews, Scotland at the moment.”

Christopher’s doctoral pursuits in Scotland were the result of networking and mentoring in his LPU master’s program. “Several of the MASL faculty recommended doctoral work in the UK, and a friend who had completed his Ph.D. at St. Andrews recommended the university. It’s been a great fit. As for my topic, one of my central wrestles has been the ways in which various denominations in the US and white evangelicals more broadly are entangled with some cultural/ideological paradigms that seem to run counter to following Jesus.” His research includes a critical analysis of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Theology of Suffering and stemmed from his own introspection. “I saw that entanglement in my own life and wanted to do work that served repentance and more faithfulness to Jesus.” Christopher will complete his dissertation in the spring of 2024.

“The level of research, thinking, and communication demonstrated by Chris in his MASL Capstone Research project was outstanding”, says Dr. Remi Lawanson, Associate Dean for Leadership Studies and Chair of the MASL. He affirms, “We are so proud of him completing his Ph.D. studies at the prestigious university in Scotland. With his doctoral studies, Chris has certainly become an excellent and strategic faculty candidate in Christian higher education. We are excited to highly recommend him and celebrate his ongoing contributions.”

As he concludes his doctoral work, Christopher reflects, “I can’t thank LPU enough. All of my faculty, my amazing cohort, and specifically Dr. Angie Richey, Dr. Remi Lawanson, Kristina Ingles, and Paul Kuzma, for the life-changing impact they made.” His thankfulness runs deep and isn’t merely on his own behalf. “You’ve all helped me and my family so much, and we’re so grateful for the experience.

“Chris is a shining example of humility and excellence, embodying the values of service, leadership, and education also exemplified by the generations that have gone before him. His journey at LPU reflects personal dedication, guidance by the Holy Spirit, and legacy of servant leadership within his DNA,” says President Dr. Angie Richey. “We are proud to call him an alum and see him elevate his influence and contributions, enriching the lives of others for Christ.”

For those considering entering this program, Christopher’s summation of the impact on his life and goals is clear: “The words I always think of when I think of the MASL are ‘formation’ and ‘challenge.’ From the very first day of the first residency, it was obvious that the faculty and staff wanted the best for me and were willing to challenge me to help me get there.” The incredible impact of this ‘strategic’ leg of his professional journey has yet to fully unfold, but he already thoughtfully considers what God has called him to next. “Prayerfully,” he humbly contemplates, “I’d like to teach at the undergraduate or postgraduate level and do research that serves the church.” How meaningful that an academic journey that commenced amidst world chaos could seek to help bring order.

Christopher Whyte’s capstone project to culminate his Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership at LPU was entitled, “Exploring the Strength of Implicit Attitudes in Leaders who Mentor Underrepresented Groups.”

Learn more about the MA in Strategic Leadership program.