Professor of Business Law Provides Perfect Testimony of Grace
Succesful lawyer and businessman is now a professor and a pastor
Jim Treffinger, lecturer in business law at The King’s College, brings quite a diverse resume to his classroom. He was a successful lawyer in several New York law firms, acted as the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of one of the largest property and casualty insurance firms in the nation, taught government at Seton Hall University, and is now the Executive Pastor of Brookdale Baptist Church in New Jersey. Along the way, he served as the mayor of Verona, NJ, and the Essex County Executive, and received his Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Provost Marvin Olasky spoke highly of this success, saying “Jim Treffinger knows business law and communicates well with students.”
But aside from his resume, Treffinger also shows that a story of grace can often come from the darkest times of life. Indeed, these are often the best stories of grace. And this means much more than worldly success.
“I tried to become skilled in the ways of the world,” he said, “but success became my god. Applause, acceptance, reputation—these were the gods that I sought.” In 2002, Treffinger’s political success paved the way to run for a seat in the United States Senate, and he quickly became the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
But then, the apparatus of acceptance he set up as his god came crashing down. In April of that year, his office was raided by the FBI, and six months later, he was indicted and pled guilty. The principal crime, he said, “was preventing the disclosure of and failing to disclose information about a federal offense by one of my employees.”
During the 2000 campaign, an employee had “traded contracts,” Treffinger said, “in exchange for campaign contributions. I should have reported it, but I was only worried about my reputation as a reformer.” Treffinger realizes now the mistakes he made. Even now, reflecting on the incident, he said, “An attorney told me not to disclose what my employee did. But that’s not an excuse. It convinces me that I knew what I should have done, but didn’t.”
Between April and October of 2002, Treffinger said he went through the “dark night before the coming of grace. I realized that my god was taken away—applause was replaced with snickering and jeering. I was standing on sand. I descended into great depression and despair.”
During that summer, he met with the pastor of a local church, and in October, surrendered his search for applause and dedicated his life to Jesus Christ. Soon after, he was arrested in front of his house and placed in a cell at the U.S. Marshal’s office.
“Sitting in my cell was the lowest point of my life,” he said. “But I thought of Christ, and a smile came across my face.”
Treffinger spent 2004 in a federal prison, where he was involved in the prison ministry. Upon his release, he worked for the local church while he studied at Princeton. He is now an ordained Baptist minister and is the executive pastor of the church.
Treffinger’s presence at The King’s College, Olasky said, “shows why King's is an evangelical college: We believe in the evangelion (literally in Greek, the "good news") that all of us are sinners yet Christ transforms us, sometimes in a dramatic way like Jim's. He transmits to students not only information but a witness to the importance of being born again.”
Treffinger’s story shows the power of grace and the result of a transformed life. He now applies his life and his testimony in the classroom, where he instructs business students in how to engage in commerce with truth, grace, and honesty.
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