Cougar InterView—Michael-David Morales ’00

by University Relations

From comforting soldiers to coaching swimmers, Michael-David “Mo” Morales ’00, chaplain for the U.S. Army Reserves and Methodist Hospital; and an adjunct professor, discipleship leader for Men’s Mentoring, and assistant swim coach at APU, seeks to strengthen spirituality in others and train up young leaders for faith-based and secular environments.

APU LIFE: What is your calling and how does it play out in your different roles?

MORALES: I seek to be a minister of God’s Word. As a coach, I know each of my student-athletes needs something different. For some, it’s mentoring, while others might just need a little bit of encouragement. I’m blessed to get to hang out with college kids, influence them, and walk alongside their families in that season of life. As a chaplain in the Army, I work closely with the commander, making sure she understands the spiritual needs of the soldiers. As the only noncombatant, I focus all of my time on taking care of them. Each faces issues with family, the Army, and life in general. I’m happy to have even a little bit of a positive influence on their lives and point them toward God.

APU LIFE: What life skills do you impart to your athletes?

MORALES: They are going to spend much more of their lives beyond their sport than they do with swimming. Therefore, everything we do, both in practice and in competition, prepares these young athletes to live lives of significance, and maybe gives them a little insight into what life can be like if they continue to follow God with all their hearts.

APU LIFE: Whom do you admire and why?

MORALES: Selfless people who give of themselves in service to others garner my admiration. The man who brought me to Christ when I was in high school, Kevin Cobb, has been one of the most influential people in my life and continues to mentor me on a weekly basis. I admire APU associate chaplain (COL) Rick Givens ’83, M.A. ’03, who helped me navigate my journey to becoming a chaplain in the military. I also admire the most godly people I know, my parents. My mom taught me that hard work wins, and she never allowed me to complain. When I told her that something was unfair, she told me to get over it, rise to the occasion, and succeed. My father, however, is the most influential person in my life. A quiet leader, he conducts himself with poise, confidence, and respect, both for himself and for others. He is the reason I am the man I am today.

APU LIFE: What do you do to reenergize and become your best self for others?

MORALES: I’m actually a highly introverted person. Finding energy means continually withdrawing and investing time in myself so I’m able to give my very best to my soldiers and my students. I love reading. A mentor once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I always try to keep at least one of the classics in my reading rotation.

APU LIFE: What motivates you?

MORALES: I love watching people grow and create a culture of leadership. I want to be around people who want to become better. Each day, I try to be the very best I can be and expect nothing less from my soldiers, athletes, and colleagues. God has called upon each of His children to do great work, and I want to be around people who choose to motivate others, which in turn motivates me.