pilot, pastor, soldier, but most of all servant
Bethany College professor William
H. Snow believes in learning by doing, and just because he’s program
director of the psychology department at the Scotts Valley, Calif., school
doesn’t mean he’s waxing philosophical in an ivory tower.
In fact, Snow isn’t content
to hold down one full-time college job. He also is a church planter and in
the California Army National Guard.
By tackling three divergent and
demanding professions simultaneously, Snow is merely putting into practice
what he teaches: academic involvement shouldn’t be confined to books
in the classroom.
“If I talk to my students
about planting churches, I should be willing to do it myself,” Snow
says. And he has. Snow in January became co-pastor of Sojourners, a new Assemblies
of God church plant in Scotts Valley. The congregation meets for worship on
Saturday evenings and for prayer on Wednesday evenings.
“It’s not really work,”
Snow says. “It’s a privilege. It forces me to study the Word more.”
specialties for the nascent church are personality gift assessment,
ministry placement, coaching and mentoring. It’s a natural
progression for what he teaches at Bethany regarding the importance
of students being passionate about their chosen profession, using
sound judgment, being of good character and competent in their
In all his roles, Snow
knows that teamwork is crucial. “Few things in life can
be accomplished as individuals,” he says. “Even a
great preacher needs to rely on everybody from the church administrator
to the soundboard operator.”
At Bethany, Snow tells undergraduates
they are practicing psychology in daily relationships with other students
and professors. Learning to resolve a spat with a roommate is the practical
undergraduate equivalent of tackling the problems of a schizophrenic client
once the students become psychologists, says Snow, who began teaching at Bethany
in 1986 after obtaining his master’s degree and doctorate. Next year
the school will begin offering a master’s program in clinical psychology.
A lieutenant colonel in the Army
National Guard, Snow commands the 980th Supply and Service Battalion, a quartermaster
unit in San Jose. The citizen soldier supervises five companies and 650 people.
For six years during the 1970s
Snow served in the U.S. Army. He became a Christian three decades ago when
a Special Forces recruiter evangelized him. While in the military in South
Korea, he began attending the Assemblies of God Christian Serviceman’s
Center and Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, the megachurch pastored by Dr.
David Yonggi Cho. There, with other servicemen, he went to Bible studies that
laid the groundwork for his Christian faith and theological framework.
Now the National Guard serves as
a leadership laboratory for him, another area where he can put academic theory
into practice. There are parallels between professor and commander. As leader
of both classroom and unit, he sets the cultural and emotional climate of
each environment. For instance, he promotes proper professional language and
conduct in both the school and his military outfit.
Although officially he is on military
duty one weekend a month, it’s really sort of like being a pastor on
call 24 hours a day. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Snow
went on active duty for five months. Last year he spent eight weeks in Ukraine
as joint logistics officer for NATO forces.
Snow believes this is a perfect
time for Christians to be in the military because Christian values —
such as no smoking or drinking alcohol — are aligned with basic training
rules. He has the opportunity to teach moral leadership virtues such as loyalty,
duty, respect, integrity and courage.
In these times of heightened tensions
Snow’s role in overseeing a headquarters medical, airborne, supply and
transportation company takes about 40 hours a month rather than the typical
“My job is to mentor leadership,”
Snow says. “As a leader I set the moral climate.” That involves
focusing the attention of those under his command on their primary job, and
making sure no one in the unit is acting unethically, immorally or illegally.
Snow still manages to eke out time
to spend with his wife of 26 years, Debi, who is director of financial aid
at Bethany College. They run five miles and lift weights every weekday morning
— and run half marathons on weekends. Somehow the busy Snow also finds
a few hours to fly his one-place glider and to paddle kayaks. The couple has
three adult children, Jared, Tarah and Shelly. All are involved or planning
to be involved in church service leadership.
Meanwhile, Snow isn’t concerned
about burnout because he says his priorities are right.
“It’s not a matter
of being busy,” Snow says. “It’s a matter of doing what’s
By John W. Kennedy