I have attended more than a few business meetings or convention gatherings when someone whose face is etched with the rigors of  life and the weather of years of living, will stand and ask, “Can I take a moment (point) of personal privilege to say a few words?”  Because of the individuals familiar face, the privilege is granted. Well, in this blog I would like to ask if is ok if I take a moment of personal privilege to say a few words.

With another birthday about to roll around (March 17),  just wanted to verbalize some thoughts that have been swirling in my mind. Bear with me. When I listen to all the pundits and politicians who peddle socialism, they pitch it as the magic cure-all, the panacea for which we have all been longing. Socialistic ideas are disguised in appealing and convincing sounding phrases like, “it is your right to have an equal slice of the pie,” “we are going to take from those who don’t pay their fair share and give you part of it,” “the American Dream is your right without you having to shed blood, sweat and tears to achieve it,” “the reason you don’t have is not your fault but the result of someone else;” and the nice sounding phrases go on and on. Like the gentle rain, all the good “things” we have a “right to” will fall  freely and deservingly  from the sky.

As the calendar is about to flip over to my 68th year,  and as I journey in my mind  over the many twists and turns the road of life has taken me down, I must say I don’t remember ever hearing any words like that growing up. Matter of  fact I heard, “You can have it, but you must earn it;” “don’t expect handouts, you want it earn it by the sweat of your brow;” “if you can’t afford it you don’t buy it,” “if you want something, save for it or do without;” “there are no free rides in life;” “don’t blame others for your lack of hard work and mistakes;” and “the skies the limit if you are willing to sacrifice for it.” And that is the way I was taught it was, there was no alternate road to take.

My first car was bought with money saved from priming tobacco and helping gather and stack hay bales during the summer. I went to college by working hard to achieve a track scholarship and, as well, working at a brick mill during the summer (and I found bricks weighed more than tobacco leaves!!). My working in the hot summer sun of North Carolina and the year-around track training I did in high school, taught me commitment, discipline and stick-to-it-ness. With the Good Lord’s help and dilgent work, I graduated from college (1974) with a degree in religion and philosophy, debt free.

Entering the Gospel ministry, the first church I ever pastored I made $185 a month!!! When I departed from the church almost 6 years later, I was making a whopping $350 a month! When I got married my wife and I for many years lived from hand to mouth, often doing without those things that people today say is a “right” so we would have food on the table and pay our essential bills.  Again, I was taught if you can’t afford it you don’t buy it. However, my parents also taught me, no matter how little money you have, try to save a nickel and dime here and there for the future. After over forty years it is surprising how those nickels and dimes add up.

Later, engaging in post-graduate studies, I juggled a family, a church and rigorous studies. I sacrificed and worked hard and eventually achieved multiple post-graduate degrees. I never expected anyone to give me anything, but just assumed you had to study hard, burn the midnight oil and sacrifice to earn them. Though not in the Bible as some mistakenly think, I was raised on the philosophy of Aesop, the ancient Greek, who wrote, “No good e’er comes of leisure purposeless; And heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act.”  We know it better as, “God helps those who help themselves.”

As a minister I believe in helping people and have dedicated and committed my life to help and invest in others, which has brought me great joy and I trust in turn has brought joy and help to others.  But in helping others,  I have also sought to teach people to be responsible, good things happen to those who make good choices and work hard, and discipline is the key to seeing doors of opportunities open. I have always believed it is better to teach a person to fish than to just give them the fish. Now if one can’t help themselves that is a different conversation. I have sought through the years to extend a helping hand to those in need and who require a boost, and help point them in the direction that with the Lord’s help and the willingness to work and sacrifice, one can accomplish much in life that when looking back will leave one surprised.

The Lord has blessed me richly through the years, more than I could have ever imagined and certainly don’t deserve. While I have prayed at every turn of the road, I have sought to work hard along the way.  Prayer and hard work cannot be divorced from one another  (read the book of Nehemiah).

So, the reason I do not and can never support or  embrace socialism is because of the path I thankfully was taught to take….a path that has been filled with highs and lows, successes and failures, good and bad, sadness and gladness, joy and sorrow, regrets and rewards, but because of the ups and downs has resulted in a path filled with abundant blessings that escapes my comprehension. Those willing to chase goals and willing to work hard to achieve them will find the greatest reward is found in the pursuit of those goals. Chasing goals and working for them bestows rewards money can not buy or socialism can not possibly ever give: self-respect, a clear conscience, integrity, incentive, and dignity.

Thank you for granting me this moment of personal privilege.

Dr. Dan


For 40 years I have had the privilege of being involved in the coaching of high school cross-country and track athletes. As a minister it has been an extension of my ministry and has allowed me to mentor, influence and help young people to reach achievements that they never would have been able to do on their own. TeamatEnd It has been a most rewarding experience.

There is nothing more rewarding than to set goals and watch a young person reach a goal they never would have dreamed could happen. Over the years I have been blessed of the Lord to share in  many wonderful memories of watching individuals and teams reach lofty heights and win many championships of various kinds. They all were achieved through hard work. I continually stress to those I am privileged to coach if you want it you have to earn it through perseverance. There are no shortcuts to being a champion.

Back in June the boys and girls cross country teams at Elkin High School set a goal to be Mountain Valley Athletic Conference Champions. There were 8 schools that had the same goal. It was a lofty goal as that was an achievement that Elkin had never done both winning the conference title in the same year. As the smallest school in the conference, we don’t have as many runners as some of the larger schools. But what I do have are hard working kids who are willing to do what others will not do in order to be champions.

While we won all the regular season conference meets we participated in during the year, they were all wins that were close. My daily advice was that we had to keep working to get better, for winning is like trying to catch an elusive butterfly. I did my best to help them never lose sight of their pre-season goal.

The day of the conference championship arrived, October 14, but because of heavy rains the meet was postponed a day. The delayed day only intensified our nervousness. The boys were defending champions, the girls had never won it. They wanted to get at it…and get at it together.

The next day, after a long bus ride to Ashe County, where the meet was to be held, we got off the bus knowing it was going to be a close meet that was going to be decided by a few points one way or the other. We knew we could run very well and possibly still not win, but if we didn’t run well we knew we wouldn’t win. So there was no alternative, we had to run well. The course was muddy from two days of rain, but since we practice in all kinds of weather I figured that would favor us.

After four months of practicing in the heat of the summer, sometimes in the rain, practice  six days a week, dealing with nagging aches and pains, the moment had come. The Elkin runners now stood on the starting line eagerly waiting for the gun to sound to begin the  5K (3.1 mile) race.  As the pistol cracked in the still air, all the runners took off at a torrid pace, jockeying for position. One thing I knew for sure the Elkin runners would give their best effort……and they did.

To make a long story short, when the dust settled from both the boys and girls races the Elkin runners raced like they had been trained to and had dug deep inside of themselves to capture two close wins. The boys winning 52-58 and the girls winning 56-59 (low score wins in cross-country). They were now experiencing the joy of reaching a goal. They were experiencing the reward of hard work. They were reaping the fruit of discipline and persistence. I could not have been more proud of them. Matter of fact, their accomplishment brought me to tears and in a voice filled with emotion I said to them of their superb efforts, “A job well done.” For my desire for  them had been  that they might experience the joy of being a champion. Only those who work hard have that opportunity to experience the jubilation of reaching such a goal.

I have often said that running is a microcosm of life. I seek to teach my athletes that running is like life, you get out of life what you put into it. If you set goals and work hard good things happen. We may not always reach our goals, but we come a lot closer than if we have no goals at all. And if you keep setting goals and working toward them in time you will reap abundant fruit from your labor. We must ever be diligent, persistent, consistent, and determined if we are going to overcome obstacles and hurdles that arise in our lives. But good things happen to those who don’t give up and are persistent. Keep at it and don’t throw in the towel. As your Heavenly Coach speaks words of encouragement to you, dig deep within and you will find His strength to continue racing toward the finishline.

Like the Apostle Paul we must keep pressing toward the goal of being all the Lord wants us to be and do. That is a lifelong journey and commitment. Keep on keeping on and on that Final Day we will discover the joy of reaching our Goal and hearing the Master say, “A job well done.”


Dr. Dan