Michael Lindsay was born in Jackson, Mississippi as an only child, and he graduated from Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson in 1990 as a National Merit Scholar, where his mother, Susan Lindsay, is now the head of school. Along with his mother, Lindsay converted from Catholicism to Southern Baptist Evangelicalism as a child. His father, Ken Lindsay, was the president of the PGA from 1997 to 1998 and was one of the officials in golf before his retirement in 2008.
Lindsay's first research projects focused on evangelicals in leadership positions in America, which formed the basis for his dissertation, Faith in the Corridors of Power. The dissertation drew upon over 350 interviews with evangelical leaders in business, government, cultural institutions, and religion. In 2007, the dissertation was published by Oxford University Press as Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. Faith in the Halls of Power met with mostly positive critical reviews. It was listed in Publishers Weekly's "Best Books of 2007." However, Alan Wolfe of the New York Times criticized the work by saying that "too much of the book is uncritical." The Economist, by contrast, called it "an impressive and admirably fair-minded book: anybody who wants to understand the nexus between God and power in modern America should start here." Christianity Today gave it first place among the Christianity and Culture category in their annual book awards.
Following the publication of the book, Lindsay began research on senior leaders in general, launching the largest interview-based study of senior American leaders ever done. The PLATINUM study, an acronym for Public Leaders in America Today and the Inquiry into their Networks, Upbringings, and Motivations, aims to look at leaders in corporate, government, and non-profit life. He completed the research in the summer of 2011, having interviewed a total of 550 American leaders. His work has given him interviews with people such as Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, Robert Diamond, and Condoleezza Rice. Overall, Lindsay is the author of 24 scholarly papers, book chapters, and other peer-reviewed articles. His work has also been profiled in media outlets ranging from CNN to The Wall Street Journal. He also has written in popular media such as The Huffington Post and The Washington Post.
On May 5, 2014, Lindsay, along with co-author M.G. Hagar, published View From the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World based on the work done in the PLATINUM study. In all, Lindsay interviewed 550 of America's top leaders, surpassing "The American Leadership Study", done by a group of researchers at Columbia University, which interviewed 545 people, as the largest-interview based study ever conducted.
Lindsay graduated from Baylor University, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with a degree in English and Speech in 1994. In 2000, Lindsay graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity. He then obtained a postgraduate diploma from Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University in 2001. Following his time in England, Lindsay enrolled in a doctoral program at Princeton University in sociology, completing his dissertation in 2006.
Professionally, Lindsay worked as a consultant for religion and culture for the George H. Gallup International Institute from 1998 to 2003, and following his graduation from Princeton, was hired at Rice University as an assistant professor of sociology in 2006. While at Rice, he became a Rice Scholar at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. He held additional appointments with Leadership Rice and the Center on Race, Religion, and Urban Life. In 2010, he founded and directed the Program for the Study of Leadership, which sought to create leadership salons - dialogues with senior leaders such as Robert L. Clarke, former U.S. Comptroller of the Currency. Additionally, several undergraduate fellows were selected to participate in this program. Dr. Lindsay also completed his PLATINUM Study of leadership at the end of July 2011. The PLATINUM Study is the world's largest interview-based study of leadership and his subjects included top institutional leaders from the business, government, and non-profit sector. Some participants include: Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, Edward Whitacre, former CEO of AT&T and former Chairman of General Motors, Tom Daschle, former Senate majority leaders, and Derek Bok, former president of Harvard. Upon his departure from Rice University, the program evolved into the Gateway Study of Leadership program.
On March 28, 2011, Michael Lindsay was announced as the eighth president of Gordon College and began his tenure on July 1 later that year. At age 39 when he assumed his position, Lindsay was the second youngest college president of any college or university nationally then ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
When he was announced as the president, Lindsay received support from numerous people, including Mark Noll, Myron Ullman, and Neil Clark Warren. He stated his intention to use his inaugural year to raise awareness about Gordon College around the country. He was inaugurated on September 16, 2011, in a ceremony that featured Nathan Hatch, the president of Wake Forest University. As part of the inaugural ceremonies, a worship service was performed with John Ortberg as the speaker. In his inaugural address, titled "Faithful Leadership for the Common Good," Lindsay set out three principles which he titled "The Gordon Commission": to "stretch the minds" of students, to "deepen the faith", and to "elevate the contribution."National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow (2002–2006)
First Place, Worldwide Competition for Young Sociologists (2006)
Nicolas Salgo Distinguished Teaching Award, Rice University (2011)
Lindsay married his wife, Rebecca, in 1996, and is the father of three daughters. Elizabeth was born in 2004 and his twin daughters, Caroline and Emily, were born in 2010. He resides with his family in historic Wilson House on the campus of Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts.Gallup, George Jr., and D. Michael Lindsay. Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Belief (Morehouse, 2000) ISBN 978-0-8192-1796-7
Gallup, George Jr., and D. Michael Lindsay. The Gallup Guide: Realty Check for 21st Century Churches (Gallup, 2002) ISBN 978-0-7644-2397-0
Lindsay, D. Michael. Faith in the Halls of Power (Oxford, 2007) ISBN 978-0-19-532666-6
Lindsay, D. Michael, and M.G. Hagar. View From the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World (Wiley, 2014) ISBN 978-1-1189-0110-6