A Man of God: Profile of Dr. Mark L. Bailey
Dr. Mark L. Bailey stands at the front of the classroom holding a Bible in his hands while students in his Bible Study Methods course take notes. He reads from Luke 12 the words of the rich man who produced a good crop: “I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” Dr. Bailey looks up at his students and explains, “This man’s problem was not greed. It’s not true that the one with the most toys wins, because when the game is over, both the king and the pawn go back in the same box. This man’s problem was self-reliance.”
A casual observer in Dr. Bailey’s office quickly picks up on his frequent theme of “God reliance.” Behind the desk in his office hangs a painting given to him by Barby, his wife of nearly thirty years. It’s a mountain scene, and below the picture is inscribed Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah, Lord God, it is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for you.”
Dr. Bailey came to Dallas Seminary sixteen years ago as a professor in the Bible Exposition Department. In 1996 then-President Chuck Swindoll appointed him vice president for academic affairs and academic dean. Three years later Dr. Bailey added the role of provost to his list of responsibilities. Then this past March, Dallas Seminary Board Chairman George M. Underwood III announced the selection of Dr. Bailey as the school’s fifth president.
“God again has provided Dallas Seminary with sterling leadership,” Mr. Underwood said. “Mark Bailey’s dedication to God and his devotion to this school continue the tradition of constantly lifting the bar as we send Bible-literate Christian leaders into the world.” The announcement came after prayerful deliberation, a nationwide search, and a unanimous decision by the board.
In addition to teaching and serving in administrative roles at Dallas Seminary, Dr. Bailey has served in pastoral roles for the past twenty years. As such, he carries on the school’s tradition of presidential leadership combined with senior pastoral experience. Brian Jamison (MA[BS], 1998) and his family attended Faith Bible Church in DeSoto, Texas, during their years of theological training before moving to Kenya as missionaries. They appreciated their time of growth under Dr. Bailey’s leadership. “I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him,” said Heather Jamison, author of Reclaiming Intimacy, who attended classes at DTS for several years. “I liked to hear him preach because he always brought the cultural background into his messages—information you wouldn’t know without going to Israel yourself.”
Going to Israel has been on Dr. Bailey’s priority list each year since 1983, stemming from a deep love for the land where Jesus lived. A cabinet in his office displays pottery he has collected on his numerous trips, many of which he has led. “I’ve been with him in the Holy Land eight or nine times,” said Greg Hatteberg, director of Admissions and assistant secretary to the faculty. “Repeatedly I’ve seen his unique ability to recognize someone’s gifts and then come alongside him or her to help develop them, while encouraging and motivating that person.”
Those who know Dr. Bailey well say that his closest relationships are with members of his family—Barby and the couple’s two sons. Their oldest, Josh, characterizes his dad as hardworking, studious, and wise. Josh completed his first year in the seminary’s Th.M. program this past May, and currently directs worship at a local church. “Both as a son and as a student, I’m thrilled—speaking professionally, personally, and spiritually,” Josh said, when talking about his father’s new responsibilities. Both sons Josh and Jeremy tell of one-on-one times spent over breakfast with their dad. Jeremy characterizes those hours together as “napkin theology,” when his father would use the closest napkin or paper placemat to sketch out whatever spiritual concept they were considering. For Barby words such as “integrity,” “faithfulness,” and “humility” come to mind when describing her husband. “He’s incredibly strong in interpersonal relationships,” she said.
Members of the Dallas Seminary faculty are quick to praise Dr. Bailey’s leadership, which has included pastoral care. “Several months ago, I requested prayer in a faculty meeting for members of my extended family who live in the Bahamas,” said Dr. Tom Constable, chairman and professor of Bible Exposition.
“My father’s cousin had been brutally murdered, one of his daughters had been raped and her back and ribs were broken, and another daughter had been assaulted.
“A few days later, about 6:00 P.M., as I was sitting in my office, preparing to teach an evening class, I heard a knock on my door. It was Mark. As he was walking to his car to go home, he had seen my light on. He decided to stop by for a few minutes, thus delaying his departure from campus.
“We discussed my needy relatives and prayed for them together. Mark has a genuine interest in people and their needs. As a faculty member I appreciate having someone leading the seminary who is willing to take a few minutes, even when it is personally inconvenient, to take the initiative to pray with and encourage me.”
Dallas Seminary chancellor, Dr. Charles Swindoll, calls Dr. Bailey “a biblical-thinking scholar with a warm heart for people.” Speaking with enthusiasm about his successor, Dr. Swindoll said, “He has integrity with humility, leadership skills with compassion, discernment with decisiveness, and strong determination—all seasoned with an understanding of grace. Mark Bailey will walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before—and leave giant shoes of his own to fill someday. He will be a great leader of this great seminary.”
Along with his teaching responsibilities on campus Dr. Bailey has also consistently met with individual students and couples to study principles of discipleship in the Gospels. Until the last few years he served as an instructor and trainer for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries. “I’m not satisfied just teaching people the ‘what’ of Scripture,” Dr. Bailey said. “I also have the desire to show them how it relates to their lives and to the lives of the people to whom they will minister. Most students at Dallas Seminary are headed toward some type of full-time ministry, and we all need to recognize that, according to 1Timothy 1:5, our instruction in the Scriptures is a means and not the end. God’s will for each of us as revealed in the Bible is a changed life. The last six years have been some of the most encouraging years of my own life, largely because of the privilege that Chuck Swindoll has given me of working alongside him and other gifted leaders.”
As one who knows firsthand the value of being discipled, Dr. Bailey authored To Follow Him: Seven Marks of Discipleship. “The dynamic of discipleship is the maturation of character, not just the collection of materials,” he said. “Too often today our discipleship process has been geared toward getting people through a set of materials. One of the keys in knowing how to make good disciples is knowing how to continually be in the process of becoming a disciple.”
A closer look inside Dr. Bailey’s office reveals his deep respect for these leaders who have gone before him. There’s a bust of Lewis Sperry Chafer, the school’s founder, and above it hangs a photo of Drs. Walvoord, Campbell, and Swindoll—the three living past presidents of the seventy-six-year-old institution. Each of these three men has voiced hearty approval of the board’s choice of Dr. Bailey.
Dr. John Walvoord, chancellor emeritus, who served as the seminary’s president for thirty-three years, describes Dr. Bailey as “an individual of deep theological convictions who has the executive and leadership skills needed and an absolutely solid theological position. He will lead the seminary into the future and keep our doctrinal position in line with God’s Word.”
President emeritus Dr. Donald Campbell, who served as the school’s president from1986 to 1994, echoes these sentiments. “In my judgment Dr. Mark Bailey has all the required gifts and experience to serve with distinction as president of Dallas Seminary. The Board could not have made a better choice.”
“I am delighted to be part of a rich heritage,” said Dr. Bailey. “God enabling me, I will do my best to take the history of Dallas Seminary one more step.”
“Mark Bailey has the hands of a gentle shepherd,” said Dr. Charlie Dyer, senior vice president of education and provost, Moody Bible Institute, and long-time friend. “Those hands are scarred from battles that few outside leadership ever witness. But they also display the gentle touch of one who cares deeply for those under his care. Watching those hands in action, I'm reminded of a description of King David that also applies to Mark: ‘And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them’ (Ps. 78:72). Mark has skillful hands that are guided by a heart of integrity.”