Fellowship of Christian Farmers, International
By Kevin Cernek
June 16, 2019
What makes a person tick? Well, I would say a lot of things. Genetics is one. Stimulation is another. Childhood experience is definitely a factor. Sibling order probably plays an important factor as well. (This is not a scientific study – it is simply my own cogitation).
Sibling order – I am the fourth child in a family of eight children (seven boys and one girl). My older brothers were always up to something that I was usually too little to participate in. My younger brothers and sister demanded my parents attention all the time so I was kind of stuck in the middle and it was up to me to create my own entertainment and challenges. When I was with my older siblings I found it easy to follow and not take much initiative. When I was with the younger ones, I found that they needed a leader and I became one by default. So I learned to follow and to lead.
At first, I found it easier to follow, but when I grew up and was out on my own, I learned being the leader was where I wanted to be. I figure this must be something that is learned in life. Some people I know have no desire whatsoever to lead. They are quite content minding their own business, doing whatever job is at hand, and letting others take on all the responsibility and the stress that comes with it. After reading through the history of the Old Testament kings, I had to ask myself, why would anyone want to be king back then? Everyone was out to take over the throne and the only way to dispose of a king was to kill him – which they did at almost every turn. Leadership had its price.
My grandfather was a self-learned man. He only had a sixth grade education but he was the smartest person I knew. He taught himself to become a licensed electrician and plumber, and made a good living at it. He passed his knowledge and determination down to me in several ways. Although I never became an electrician or a plumber, I learned from him, not only the value of hard work, but also the value of hard work with a principled goal in mind. He always said a job worth doing is a job worth doing right, and, it’s easier to do it right the first time than to go back and do it over again later. He also said that when he was challenged with a job that was outside of his level of comfort, he would remind himself that if someone could do the same job, he could do it too – only better. That kind of confidence has carried with me all through my life.
A few years ago, for health reasons, I started a regimen of daily exercises. Up till then I was never one to exercise. In fact, I loathed exercising. Why run when you can walk? But one day my wife and I purchased a treadmill which I assembled in our basement. It sat there in the corner for several weeks. Every time I walked by I would look at it, and… well, walk by. But one day, mostly out of curiosity, I stepped up on the belt, pushed the “start” button and my new life of exercising began. I won’t bore you with all the details but…
One day I was telling my brother about my routine on the treadmill. He said timing myself on how fast I can run a mile on the treadmill doesn’t count because it’s not the same as running outside. Of course, I defended myself, and adamantly told him how wrong he was. But inside I had to ask, “Is he right? Does it not really count?” So the next day I got up early, put on my workout clothes and hit the pavement outside with a stopwatch in hand. I had to prove to myself that I was right. Just to be sure I pushed myself hard so there would be no doubt in the end. I ran the two miles faster outside than I did inside. Although my first intention was to prove to myself that I was right, I took a snapshot of the time displayed on the stopwatch and sent it to my brother, without a caption. He needed to know.
I’ve been the Senior Pastor at Martintown Community Church for the past 26 years. I credit that longevity first of all, to the hand of God upon my life, of course, but from an earthly perspective, it is of the utmost importance to have a patient and understanding wife. It would be impossible without her love and support. It also takes a congregation of people who are able to look past my obvious flaws and accept me, imperfections and all.
People always ask me how long I plan on preaching before I retire? My answer is that I hope I am still preaching on the last day of my life here on this earth. My idea is to preach on Sunday morning and then die in my sleep while taking a nap on Sunday afternoon. That way I will have just completed teaching what I studied the week before and I won’t have wasted any time studying for next week’s sermon – which I won’t be able to preach anyway. We’ll see how that pans out, but at least I have a plan. (I’m hoping God gives me another 26 years – at least).
Lots of things play into who we are and what we become, but the Bible always gives us the best perspective: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil,” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Until next time, may the Lord bless your coming and going.