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I Wanted to be a Preacher

Back in the eighties and nineties, when you asked a kid what they wanted to be when they grew up, you would get everything from a police officer, fireman, a fighter jet pilot, or Michael Jordan. Not this kid, I wanted to be a preacher just like Mark Hubbard, who was our preacher at the West Main Church of Christ in Newark, Ohio. Mark was my hero. I had a binder with his sermons and copies of his transparencies (showing my age). I wanted to be just like him.

You’ll often hear me say that my mother is the closest person to Christ I know. Even though she is human, and as most humans are, she is not without her imperfections; she is perfect to me. My mother raised my siblings and me in the Church of Christ. Growing up, we did not miss a Sunday or Wednesday service. My father did not attend, but he made it clear that while we lived in their house, we would mind our mother and be at service with her. It was not until I got older that I understood how difficult it must have been for my mother to be the lone churchgoer in our household. This story is about me, though, so we will move on.

Somewhere along the way, my dream of being a preacher began to fade. I went from an innocent eight-year-old to a hormonal teen to a young adult who thought he could conquer the world independently. My belief in God never faded, and the morals and values my mother instilled in us were always there, but God became less and less a part of my life. I went years without attending service or hitting my knees to ask for guidance and help. The further I separated myself from God and the Church, the worse my decision-making became and the more complex my path became.

"My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less," with the line "I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."

Edward Mote, 1834

I was not looking for it, but I found a renewed conviction in my religious beliefs when I became an Alderman. This renewal of faith was not immediate but has continued to grow stronger as I interact more with the community. As an Alderman, you often have to put yourself in others’ shoes as you make decisions. You have to understand and empathize with the people you represent. You have to clear your head of your selfish thoughts, take everything in, and understand there are real people at the other end of your decisions. When you are “alderman-ing” for the right reasons, it is a very humbling experience.

Being an Alderman, or in any position that puts you in the public eye, should affect how you live your life. There are choices I would have made three years ago that today, I would not make. Not because I lost the ability or right to do what I wanted, but because I decided to represent a community. I decided to make my life public. Even though my personal life is my own, I recognize that people are always watching. I want people to see a man guided by the morals and principles that his mother instilled in him that have a firm foundation in his faith in Jesus Christ. I want people to see an upright and just man. I want people to know that I am a Christian based on my actions and character versus telling them I am.

I understand there are those in our community who do not have the same religious beliefs I do, but I want them to know by my actions that because of my faith, I will do the right and moral thing for them. I am not a “bible thumper” and do not use Christianity as a weapon, but my faith in Christ does guide how I make decisions.

I am not the same person that I was at eight, nor the same person I was at fifteen, twenty-five, or even thirty-nine. Even when it seemed He was the furthest thing from my mind, the one constant in my life was that the good Lord has always been a part of my life. He has always been there, and he will always be there. I will stumble and fall short, but my faith is stronger than ever. Will I ever realize the dream that an innocent eight-year-old had of being a preacher? I do not know, but I hope that through my very public life, through my faith, I can be an example to and reach others.

Until next time, RYFL (remember your first love)

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