At times, I feel as though my entire life's dedication is to barbecue. I was born in Kansas City, Missouri, which is famous for their barbecue. I went to seminary and worked six years for a church in Texas, which is known for barbecue. The past twenty-one years of my life has been in and around Memphis, Tennessee, also known for barbecue.
I often tell friends that my life is all about encouraging grill masters and meat smokers to achieve their best in their craft. It is a wonderful path to walk.
In reality, there have been some recent events that have solidified more of a calling in another direction. In the end, the true calling will help people more than a barbecue reference. These events confirmed an early calling in my life toward a path of ministry. Let me explain.
My earliest memory of anything dealing with sports and recreation in churches came from my childhood. My parents kept me active in a program called Royal Ambassador’s, which was similar to the Boy Scouts. I was in ministry leadership later in life I referred to this program as the baptized Boy Scouts. I also played on a youth league baseball team sponsored by the church. Ed Christian, who had an appropriate last name for church participation, was my coach for the two seasons that I remember in Kansas City, Missouri. My claim to sports fame was playing with future major league pitcher Rick Sutcliffe in one of those seasons.
A move to Springfield, Missouri at the age of twelve opened up more opportunities for me. When I was a sophomore in high school, our church hired a director of activities. He led us in many after church fellowships, banquets, trips, and sports opportunities. God used the leadership of Bobby Shows to guide me toward a calling into the sport and recreation ministry. Following a position as a youth minister at a nearby town, I finished my college years working for Bobby as a recreation assistant in the church’s activities building.
A move to Fort Worth, Texas found me attending seminary and working as a minister of recreation in a local church. Following graduation, I worked in four different churches with responsibility for sports and recreation programs in each location.
When my local church work ended, I eventually ended up teaching sport and recreation administration at the University of Mississippi. My involvement in academics opened a door back into assisting the Association of Church Sports and Recreation Ministers (CSRM). I presented at conferences, and two years ago the organization recruited me to serve on their Board of Trustees. It appears that much of my life's dedication is toward using sports and recreation activities as a way of shaping lives to be like Jesus. In the long run, that is better than barbecue.
In our recent board meeting, we dealt with the resignation of our Executive Director. He had served just under a year with us following the reassignment of the original Executive Director into the position of Director of Resources. The resource division was going strong enough that the board did not desire to add extra work to his job. The financial limitation to finding a new Executive Director was that the person is required to raise their funds for expenses and salary.
With those limitations facing a possible hire and the dire shape of the current finances, a recommendation was made to find a local sports and recreation minister or a faculty member that is already receiving a salary. This person could fill the position during an interim period and work as a volunteer until the board could determine a direction for the future.
Hello, my name is David Waddell. I’m the new Interim Executive Director of CSRM.
The others on the board may not agree with this, but I knew we needed someone gullible enough to take on the position. Calvin Coolidge, in 1927 said, “I do not choose to run for president in 1928.” I wish I thought of that quote during the meeting. The board voted to name me as the chair of the board of trustees as well as the interim executive director for CSRM. The position is for one year unless the board chooses to nominate someone for the job during the next year.
I shared the news with my Department Chair to inform him the responsibilities would not interfere in my regular duties for Ole Miss. The university allows faculty to use time devoted to consultation and off-campus work like this. I was hoping he would tell me I couldn’t take the position, but instead he felt honored that the organization appointed me to the post.
A part of me feels like Esther, who realized her position as queen was designed by God to save the people of Judah. Recognizing she could die for seeking an audience with the king without his request, Esther went forth in confident faith that God may have chosen her, as her Uncle Mordecai stated was for “such a time as this.”
All of those previous experiences in my life, including the significant flaws and failures prepared me for “such a time as this.”
I look forward to working with the board, staff, and the hundreds of churches and ministries worldwide that use sports and recreation as a tool toward telling others about the love of Jesus. Despite my preparations in life for a position like this, I feel a great deal of anxiety as items such as fundraising is nowhere near my comfort level or giftedness. I covet your prayers as I am in great need of divine assistance in this situation.