Steve Hayner, who was president of Columbia Theological Seminary until a few months ago, died last weekend of fast-moving pancreatic cancer. Diagnosed less than a year ago, he spent his last few months learning to ask new questions — not “What are my plans?” but rather “How am I going to be faithful whatever the circumstances?”

Hayner was president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA from 1988 to 2001, and I heard him speak at InterVarsity’s Urbana student mission conference in 1990. I remember being impressed by his understated earnestness. A friend of mine who worked for InterVarsity in the ’90s called him a “lovely man” who “pastored and led so well.”

In October, Fuller Seminary president Mark Labberton had a conversation with Hayner, who was an old friend of his, as Hayner resigned his own seminary presidency. Christianity Today has published their edited conversation, and I found it moving — two theological school presidents talking not about leadership, but about ending one’s life with integrity and faith.

Rest in peace, Steve Hayner. May choirs of angels usher you into your place of rest.

For none of us has life in himself,
and none becomes his own master when he dies. 
For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord, 
and if we die, we die in the Lord.
So, then, whether we live or die,
we are the Lord's possession.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Theological Seminary.