When he left for Wheaton College last year, Philip Ryken returned home. His father still serves on the Wheaton faculty, and Ryken sat on the board of trustees while leading Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia as senior pastor.

Indeed, Ryken’s Wheaton roots run deep, but some had hoped the college would break with its long-standing tradition of hiring pastors. They lobbied for someone with more academic experience. Yet as Ryken reflects with me in this interview, he is hard-pressed to think of better preparation for his current job than his last one. He is a pastor-president living out his life-long call to gospel ministry.

I asked Ryken about how he exercises gospel-centered leadership in a broadly evangelical environment guided by a confessional statement that allows for considerable theological diversity. We also talk about his first-year emphasis on God’s grace for a performance-based academic culture shaped by an activist college motto, “For Christ and his kingdom.”