Paul D. Brown graduated from Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville, Texas in 1994, where he helped pioneer the Chi Alpha ministry on campus as a student. For the past twenty-two years, he has worked for the State of Texas and currently serves as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the Windham School District, which is the school of the Texas state prison system. As a Chi Alpha alum, he continues to serve Chi Alpha at SHSU in a variety of roles and helped start up the National Chi Alpha Alumni Association. Paul and his wife Tonia are the proud parents of Seth (11). Cy (9), and Amos (6). Paul shares how Chi Alpha impacted every aspect of his life, including his present role in the marketplace.
Describe the impact Chi Alpha had on you as a student.
The experience had a significant impact on my life both as a student and for life after college. I was able to experience a much deeper walk with Jesus Christ and also learned to share my experiences with other students. It was incredible to see students give their lives to Christ and disciple them to be Christ-like in all that they do.
Our Chi Alpha group has three primary convictions that have impacted me, which are:
- Having a real devotional life.
- Having real brotherhood.
- Having real responsibility.
During this time, I learned a lot about leadership and how we need to be servant leaders, which has helped me in my career. I know that I am not perfect but the spiritual foundation that I built as a student has allowed me to be a great Christian example in the marketplace.
How have the discipleship skills you learned in Chi Alpha helped you in your current role in the marketplace?
Many of the discipleship skills and principals that I learned in Chi Alpha have helped me in my role as a CFO. In small group discipleship, you learn to think less about yourself and more about others. Our Chi Alpha group emphasizes the question, “Why do you do the things you do and who do you do them for?”
I try to incorporate this same question in my daily work life. You also learn to be a servant to others. We say around SHSU that love finds a need and meets it. As a CFO, I don’t worry about myself receiving credit, but instead know the people in my organization are more important than my career goals. Chi Alpha taught me there are no little people and no little places. I learned people care about how I treat them, so I make sure I treat them fairly and with respect. They want to know I will be there when they need me and depend on me when things are difficult.
What advice do you have for the Class of 2017 preparing to enter the marketplace?
My advice for Chi Alpha students entering the marketplace would be:
- Set up a personal budget and live within that budget. I have counseled many students who have graduated from college and get into a lot of debt. This burden affects most areas of their lives, particularly their ability to give, which would be my second piece of advice.
- Get into the habit of giving early in life, especially giving back by supporting Chi Alpha.
- Work hard and strive to be the best employee within your organization. Supervisors like employees that show up on time, do their job, tell the truth, and look for ways to help beyond their basic job duties. My experience has been that when you excel at your job, then raises and promotions will take care of itself.
- Get to know your coworkers and look for ways to meet their needs. Many people struggle and are looking for someone to help them along. We need to have a positive influence on our co-workers instead of a negative influence or stumbling block.
- You need to find a good local church to be involved in. Many people go years without getting connected to a church because they keep looking for a similar Chi Alpha experience or that perfect church. Ultimately the church you commit to will be different, but you are now trained from your Chi Alpha experience to serve and help that pastor make the church better.