Following Christ toward our Heavenly Summit: Dr. Tyler Cooper of Cooper Aerobics Speaks in DBU Chapel

tyler cooper

Dr. Tyler C. Cooper, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cooper Aerobics spoke to DBU students at a recent chapel service. Although his profession is the business of holistic health, the subject of his message on that morning was about his personal passion for mountain climbing and what it teaches us about our spiritual journeys toward the ultimate summit of heaven.

Dr. Cooper's lifetime goal of climbing the world's tallest mountains has taken him to the summit of the great Mt. Fuji in Japan, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the tallest mountain on all of the seven continents, and every 14,000 ft. mountain peak in the U.S. On his very last climb of the "fourteeners," however, Dr. Cooper collapsed and had to be evacuated by helicopter off the side of the mountain. This brush with death caused him to reflect over his life and what it was he was really climbing for, and since then, he has viewed mountain climbing as a metaphor for the Christian life.

First of all, like mountain climbing, we are on a journey in life, and for students, the nearest summit may be graduation and the goal of landing a career or even finding a spouse. Sometimes, the conditions get harder the closer one gets to the goal, but reaching it takes time, patience, and effort. Rest is also needed along the way. "It is very difficult in our culture today to be still, to not be on our phones, to not be having to communicate or be entertained." Once a summit is reached, the accomplishment can be very exhilarating.

Dr. Cooper reminded the students, however, that summits of mountains are not places where one lives. "It's an awesome place to visit," he said, but the euphoria of reaching the summit quickly passes, and we start thinking about the next summit. Even good goals, if we are not careful, can become ultimate summits to us, but we should not be surprised when they fail to leave us satisfied.

The world considers the achievements of power, pleasure, profit, praise, and piety as ultimate summits. Dr. Cooper described how he has often visited with many powerful and notable people at the Cooper Clinic who were broken after realizing that their mountaintop accomplishments did not bring them lasting life and happiness. As humans, such summits will appeal to us, but they are not meant to be where we live. These lesser summits are not what life is ultimately about, which is to follow the path of Christ by faith with our eyes on the summit of heaven.

Even in our Christian life, we can turn our accomplishments for Christ into summits, and Dr. Cooper warned the students about looking back and staring in pride. We can never do enough for Christ in this life, but pride will always make the wrong summits into the summit. "How often do we get caught up in the works of our faith, but not in Christ Himself?" In reality, God does not need us, but He invites us to participate with His will in following Christ toward the summit.

In conclusion, Dr. Cooper reminded the students of the widow who gave all she had in Luke 21:1-4, observing that Jesus, as far as we know, never praised the widow to her face, even though her story still impacts believers centuries later. Dr. Cooper encouraged the students to keep their compass always pointed toward Christ and to not get distracted by looking at self or measuring their worth by the works they have accomplished, which brings discouragement that we haven't done enough or pride for how far we think we've come. "You don't have to perform for God, just love Him," just like the anonymous widow.

At Cooper Aerobics, founded by his father (Dr. Kenneth Cooper), Dr. Tyler Cooper oversees seven diverse health and wellness companies, including Cooper Clinic, where he is also a practicing preventive medicine physician. Dr. Tyler Cooper earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University, a Doctor of Medicine from The University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio in 2003, and a Master of Public Health in Health Care Management from Harvard University in 2005. He completed his internship in Family Practice at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Virginia, and his preventive medicine residency at The University of South Carolina. He and his wife, Angie, have three children: Clark, Lang and Kai.

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is the Director of Written Content in University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.