At the Office with Dr. Harrison Carter
SEBTS Staff | May 24, 2022
With decades of experience in business administration, Harry Carter is passionate about engaging students and inspiring them to approach business from a biblical worldview. Carter would be quick to tell you that a proper biblical foundation is invaluable for navigating the legal and ethical tensions in business, which is why he works to instill biblical principles of business in each of his students.
A veteran of the US Navy and Georgia Air National Guard; a life-long tennis player; and a former president, provost, and professor at several academic institutions, Carter models a life of discipline and humble leadership. As a Professor of Business for The College at Southeastern, Carter is training students to serve Christ in society through business.
Carter took time to share about his life and teaching ministry in the following Q&A:
How did you get to Southeastern?
I retired from the Citadel in 2019 as the provost and a faculty member. We then moved up to Raleigh, to be near our son, daughter, and grandchildren. Once we got here, we joined Bayleaf Baptist Church, and Marty Jacumin, the pastor at that time, introduced me to Dr. Whitfield. That started a conversation about Southeastern’s interest in creating an undergraduate business program. I had experience in that area, having taught in business all my career. We talked some more, and Dr. Whitfield eventually asked me to serve part time to direct the program and help them get it started.
What is the Bachelor of Business Administration, and how will it equip students for the Great Commission?
It’s a traditional 127-hour undergraduate degree. The degree includes a general education core coupled with a spiritual formation core and a business core of ten traditional business courses like accounting, marketing, management, finance—the basic functions of business. We added on top of that nine major courses, which are a little more unique to Southeastern, including Business as Mission and The Doctrine of Vocation. The program includes a course on biblical leadership, and we have courses on the legal and ethical environment of business. In these courses, students will be looking at real world issues, but we’ll ask them to evaluate these issues through the biblical lens. Right now, a very important issue worldwide is supply chain management. So, we have a course in the operations of business and supply chain. We’ll also be helping them in terms of biblical exposition and application of the Word, which is part of their spiritual formation. So, we will consider some difficult tensions that will help students wrestle with the application of a biblical worldview in real-world situations.
What books have been most influential for your spiritual life and business?
I teach leadership based on the Bible. I also have four or five copies on my shelf of a book called The Leadership Wisdom of Jesus, which has been very significant for me. John Maxwell’s books on leadership and the Maxwell Leadership Bible are books that I use quite a bit. Maxwell will pull out leadership examples from the Bible, and then he will build his leadership principles around those examples. I’ve often used the NIV Leadership Bible as well. Simon Sinek has a great book entitled, Start with Why, which explains the importance of telling folks why you do what you do rather than just doing it. J. C. Ryle’s book, Holiness, is another significant book for me; I have an old copy of it in my office.
What do you hope your students come away with during their time at Southeastern?
Our focus here is on spiritual formation so that students who go into business will go into business with a biblical worldview. There are too many folks in business with alternative worldviews. So, what we’re trying to do with this program is prepare students to understand business and be able to compete well in the business world from a biblical worldview. That’s the unique aspect of this program. We hope to instill in students the importance of doing business according to biblical principles.
How do you see business and the Great Commission intersecting?
I think they work together very well because some countries are closed to missionaries, yet they’re open to people who have a business, trade, or vocation. So, if we can prepare folks with a vocation and with a passion for the Great Commission, they can get into closed countries and share the gospel in the marketplace in a way that traditional missionaries might not be able to do. That’s the design and hope of what we’re trying to accomplish by building the Great Commission into the program. Hopefully, students can gain valuable business skills that they can leverage to make disciples.
What do you do when you’re not working? What do you do for fun?
I have one big hobby, and it’s tennis. I played at Georgia Southern, which is where I studied for my undergraduate degree. So, I’m often in the gym or on the tennis court. My wife and I are members of Raleigh Racket Club. My wife is a really good tennis player. She’s an international champion and national champion, and she travels all over the country and world. I have to work hard to keep up with her.