As an OBU student, witty and warm Ronda Mikles sat on the east side of Raley Chapel near the back, listening to a guest speaker.
“I remember thinking, ‘You know what? I would consider my life a success if I were ever invited back to speak at chapel.’ It went on my bucket list right then and there,” she said.
Of course, she assumed at the time that if that happened, it would be because of her successful career as a school teacher.
“I always thought I would be an English teacher,” she said. “No doubt. When I was little, I loved lining up chairs in the living room and pretending to have class. In the third grade, I loved reading. I would sit in class and listen to the sound of pages turning all around me. It was wonderful!”
God had other plans in mind. Following her OBU graduation in 1975, she spent just one year in the classroom. It was enough. Eager to see what else God might have for her, she began an award-winning, 16-year career in radio sales and marketing. She gained confidence in her ability to not only maintain her Christian witness in the secular workplace but to be a light in the darkness.
During those years, God gave her a vision and desire to launch her own company. She founded Mikles Marketing and Management, Inc., 15 years ago and quickly became a sought-after corporate trainer for entities such as OG&E, Devon Energy, and Tinker and Altus Air Force Bases. Today, she marvels at God’s wisdom and ability to work all things together according to His plan.
“I’ve come full circle,” she said. “What am I doing? I’m teaching again, exactly what God told me to do in the first place, but not in the way I originally pictured. This is my calling, and it’s the Lord’s company. If I ever stop giving Him credit, I believe the opportunities are going to stop.”
Mikles’ company offers training on more than 30 topics such as time management, stress management, team building and the discipline of listening well.
“Some of the people I meet may never go to a church, and this is my opportunity to show them that someone can live an interesting life and be a Christian. I challenge them to become better people, and, of course, being a Christian is a big part of that. I always end my conferences with a challenge to go make a difference.”
Mikles gleaned much of the methodology she uses from her personal experience as an OBU student, an experience she almost missed out on.
“When I was in grade school, we would go to the choir festival at OBU. It was a big adventure. The beauty of the campus, the oval. I fell in love with all of it. But when it came time to decide about college, I didn’t ever consider OBU.”
Once again, God had other plans for her. With high scores on her ACT, she was offered a four-year scholarship to OBU and enrolled.
“I thought I knew the Bible pretty well before I went to college. It turns out I didn’t know the Bible as well as I thought. I had Dr. Dan Holcomb for Old and New Testament. I remember he went through the Bible scripture by scripture. It enhanced my desire to learn God’s Word, and not just for that class. Before that, I could memorize scripture and spit it back out. But this class created a deep love in my heart for truly studying God’s Word and seeing what it has to do with life.
“Even in secular subjects, the professors at OBU didn’t hesitate to throw out their Christian perspective on a topic and then ask us not only what we thought, but why we thought it. They pushed us to apply it, to live it. Now, I do the same thing in my trainings. When I go to these corporations, we always start with the basics, you know, how to communicate, etc. Then I ask a lot of questions like ‘How can you take this material and put it into practice, not just at work, but in your home and social life?”
Mikles and her husband Jody live in Elk City, Oklahoma, where they are heavily involved with the ministry of First Baptist Church. Mikles’ experience at OBU informs her interaction with the high school girls Sunday School class she teaches.
“These girls, especially the junior girls in my Sunday school class, have literally become my spiritual daughters. I feel compelled to equip them the way I was equipped. I tell them that they are going out into the real world soon and need to know not only what they have learned in church or what their parents have taught them, but also why they believe what they believe, so they can stand strong as adults and influence the world.”
In 2001, Mikles’ dream as a young OBU student was realized and she was invited back to OBU to speak during a chapel service. Although He didn’t bring it about quite the way she had originally imagined, God made her dream a reality.