For the last thirteen years, Tim Lancaster has served as the president and CEO of Hendrick Health System in Abilene, Texas. From deep in the heart of one Texan, he shares his background and thoughts on leading a Texas Baptist institution.
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Where else have you worked, and what were your positions?
- Brownwood Regional Medical Center, Brownwood, Texas
- Cogdell Memorial Hospital, Snyder, Texas
- Southeastern Methodist Hospital, Dallas, Texas
- West Texas Hospital, Lubbock, Texas
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Brownwood, but since my dad, Herman Lancaster, was a Baptist minister and later director of missions, we lived in Dallas, Whitewright, Farmersville, and Paducah.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
As a minister’s son, from an early age, I was in church every Sunday and Wednesday. So, I had been exposed to the gospel all my life and, therefore, my faith began as a young boy. I can remember when, for a couple of weeks, I became very restless and uncomfortable in church. Then, I finally came to the realization that I needed to surrender my life to Christ. I was fortunate that my dad was the one to baptize me.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
I received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas Tech University and a Masters in Healthcare Administration from Texas Woman’s University in Dallas.
Why do you feel called to your particular vocation?
After college, I worked at Lubbock National Bank for ten years. I was comfortable knowing I was called to be a Christian businessman but had a desire to pursue something different.
One day, I received a call from a headhunter inquiring if I had ever considered a career in hospital administration. He planted a seed, which I eventually saw as an answer to my prayers to do something worthwhile and with purpose: the privilege of working in an environment taking care of people when they are sick and vulnerable.
Please tell us about your BGCT institution—the breadth and nature of its work, including its mission, measures of scope, etc.
Hendrick Health System was founded in 1924 under the leadership of Reverend Millard A. Jenkins, pastor of First Baptist Abilene, who recognized the need for charitable, local medical care.
Today, at ten times its initial size and with over 3,200 employees, Hendrick’s services and facilities continue to grow. With knowledgeable medical professionals (306 physicians and 44 specialties), the latest technology and state-of-the-art facilities, our patients and their families know Hendrick is a name they can trust.
Despite the passing of time and the many positive changes the years have yielded, the commitment to our mission remains the same: “To deliver high quality healthcare emphasizing excellence and compassion consistent with the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”
What do you like best about leading your institution? Why?
The best part of leading Hendrick is the people I have the privilege of working with, from physicians to nurses to environmental services. Hendrick is always in a state of perpetual growth.
But, amidst this environment of change is one constant: our employees. Our success as a health institution is due to the commitment and the legacy of our employees. They care about our patients and for each other. This ability to care and connect is why we have been recognized as a Gallup Great Workplace Award winner for eleven consecutive years.
What aspect(s) of your institution and/or its mission do you wish more people understood?
I believe we have a great reputation for taking good care of our patient’s healthcare needs. Nine decades ago, we were established to fulfill the need of providing our community and surrounding areas access to quality health care. We have stayed true to our founding principles and have continued to provide the latest technology, innovative programs and highly trained physicians to allow our patients to receive treatment close to home.
We have the ability to attract physicians that received their training in the same place that physicians did in larger cities. Our physicians usually just choose to work in a smaller community because it is a great place to live and raise a family.
How has your institution and its mission changed since you began your career?
Consistency has been our strength. Our mission has not changed over the years. It has always been about “the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.” Our mission is why our employees come to work here and why they stay.
Our physicians and employees live or exemplify our mission, and it is evident in the care they give our patients. As an institution, we have grown to meet the demanding needs of the healthcare industry, but our mission statement has remained our foundation.
How do you expect your institution and/or its mission to change in the next 10 to 20 years?
We work in an industry where change is inevitable. We anticipate it and prepare for it to better address the challenges. In the future, much will depend on how health care in this country changes.
We are an organization whose goals have always been centered on providing healthcare that meets the ongoing needs of our patients. Whatever changes and challenges come our way, our commitment will remain constant to our mission and to our core values of integrity, teamwork, compassion, accountability, optimism and engagement.
Name the three most significant challenges and/or influences facing your institution.
- National health care changes
- Physician and workforce shortages
- Having the financial strength to provide the very best care
What one aspect of your job gives you the greatest joy or fulfillment?
I really enjoy taking a project from an idea to implementation. It is exciting to see a project people have worked on for years actually happen and where patients are the beneficiaries.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
Mike Waters, past president and CEO of Hendrick, was a mentor. He showed me that careful preparation is key to a successful outcome.
Alan White was my boss when I worked at Lubbock National Bank. He showed me the importance that employees play in the success of any organization.
My parents taught me to treat people with respect, regardless of their job title.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
“Your ways are not my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). This is a constant reminder to not rely on my thoughts only when I have important decisions to make.
Who is your favorite Bible character, other than Jesus? Why?
I have great appreciation for Moses. God asked him to do something, and he kept giving God all the reasons why he was was not worthy to do what God was asking him to do — as if God did not already know his weaknesses!