As I began reading the new book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, I noticed this quote at the bottom of the very first page. Phil’s favorite teacher was referring here to those individuals who chose to take on the challenge of entering the unknown and willing to blaze a new trail westward…the “Oregon Trail!”

At this point, I closed the book and sat it down beside me. I contemplated those moments in my life when I was the “spiritual coward” that never got started—opportunities God had placed in front of me and I was unwilling to take that first step. Excuses like lack of confidence, fear, unwillingness to make a sacrifice, or simply refusing to submit, reigned on my throne. Before submitting to God’s calling to serve as an Elder, I resisted Him with ALL the “couldn’t,” “shouldn’t,” or flat out “wouldn’t” reasons. See, I wanted to play it safe. Nearly born in a church pew and a committed believer since the age of 10, I was aware that God desired the full commitment of my mind, emotion, and will. The head knowledge (mind) and desire (emotion) came rather naturally to me, but the commitment to apply that drive and knowledge (will) has regretfully often left much to be desired. Fortunately, this time, God won the battle of my heart.

Little did I know what a great blessing that I would receive in serving as one of your nine Elders over the last 4 1/2 years. I served with some amazing board members, locked arms with a talented and caring staff, and was consistently prayed over by men and women in this church. My health, family, and business life were not only protected during these years but blessed far beyond my wildest dreams: 9 new grandchildren, new business opportunities, and many new adventures along the way. Thank YOU for allowing me this opportunity to serve the FBC body. I’m fearful that I’ve received far more than I’ve given.

As Dick Severson and I exchange roles with Joshua Stroud and Cameron McNie, we’re thoroughly excited to see how God continues to bless FBC, as it serves this community, and as the Elder Board serves you. My encouragement to you is to refuse to play the role of “coward” that comes so easily and instead answer God’s calling, step out in faith, and experience the fullness of life that God has planned for you…and by extension, to the FBC body and this entire community. Live, love, and lead like Jesus!