Jim Gebhart, community president of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, delivered OBU’s Minter Lecture Oct. 4. The event took place inside Bailey Business Center on the University’s campus in Shawnee.
The annual Minter Lecture series began in 1991 and was underwritten by 1940 OBU graduate Lloyd G. Minter of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The Minter Lectureship in Business was established out of his desire to help OBU students expand their knowledge of the business world. The lectureship is designed to provide training for ministry students in the history of the American economic system as well as to help all students understand and appreciate the business and professional community. The Minter Lectureship promotes proper management of personal finances, as well as better business knowledge for the institutions where they will one day lead and serve.
Gebhart is an OBU alumnus and has served as president of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City since July 2009, overseeing Mercy hospitals in Oklahoma City and northern Oklahoma. During his tenure, Mercy has been recognized four consecutive years as an IBM Watson Top 15 Health System in the country, been recognized as an IBM Watson Top 100 Hospital five times and was an Everest Award winner in 2018. For seven consecutive reporting periods, Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City has received an A grade for patient safety from the Leapfrog Group. In 2020, Mercy was the only Oklahoma hospital to be named as a Best Maternity Hospital by Newsweek.
Gebhart began the lecture with the question, “Can you be successful in business, be a strong Christian and get ahead?” Gebhart then stressed the importance of faith integration into life and business practices. He discussed how he became a Christian at age 16 at Falls Creek youth camp and how he believes God called him to be a leader from an early age. He also noted that leadership is not just about inherent personality traits but also about learning as you go.
His lecture was themed “What Animals Can Teach us About Leadership.” He shared numerous examples of lessons he personally learned from animals through his travels around the world, sharing his own personal photographs as illustrations.
Through elephants, Gebhart discerned that leadership is relational and that “achieving results in any setting is as much about relationships as it is any other thing.” He also used elephants to illustrate that leadership is about caring. He noted the biblical foundation for this principle in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: love your neighbor as yourself.”
Gebhart then used zebras to demonstrate that leadership is about being different. Through giraffes, he showed that leadership is about seeing what others don’t see. He used gorillas to demonstrate the importance of communication in leadership.
Through the image of the snowy owl, Gehbart added that leadership is about knowing your limits. Blacktip reef sharks reveal how leaders must work with difficult situations while baboons embody the leadership quality of being the most curious. Water buffaloes demonstrate that leaders must do what it takes to lead their organizations to success.
With the illustration of monkeys, Gebhart noted that leadership involves learning to laugh, especially when mistakes are made. Finally, he used bison, OBU’s mascot, to showcase that leadership is about taking the lead.
Gebhart concluded with words of wisdom for the students, as they continue their studies, begin their careers and ultimately find themselves in positions of leadership.
“I often pray and search for ways to be a better leader,” Gebhart said. “I’ve had to learn to trust others and to trust God.”
He then challenged the students to learn continually, no matter the situation.
“Learn from each and everyone around you. And you know what? You can even learn from animals.”
Gebhart earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from OBU and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Dallas Graduate School of Management. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Greater OKC United Way, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, State Chamber of Oklahoma and Lake Arcadia Commission. He recently completed service on the American Hospital Association’s Region 5 Policy Board. He is a former member of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), Oklahoma Hospital Association, Oklahoma March of Dimes, Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce and OBU boards. He has been a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives since 2007.
He is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City (XXIX) and Leadership Oklahoma (XXVIII). He is also a graduate of the 2017 Tinker Air Force Base Honorary Commanders Program. He was named the 2015 Oklahoma Academy of Physicians “Patient Advocate of the Year” and has used his experience and knowledge to assist health systems in Africa and Asia, specifically Rwanda, Singapore and China.
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