Kevin Wade, an Abilene High School graduate, returned home to speak this morning at the 15th annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Sterl Hall. Wade became state director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes in September 2011. Before that he was a public school teacher.
People, he said have a need or a feeling to belong.
“God’s family is where you belong,” Wade said.
Wade said it was a humbling but he felt honored to be speaking in his hometown. He kidded those in the audience that 24 years ago, he thought Abilene was boring with “nothing to do.”
However, today he has a much different perspective. He admired a town that embraced values, morals, integrity and hard work. Those traits are integral to what FCA also embraces. Kevin and his wife, Amy, also an Abilene graduate, both feel fortunate about their upbringing. The couple has two daughters, Madalyn, 10, and Elly, 6.
Kevin is the son of Abilene’s Vicki Wade and the late Greg Wade, a well-known Abilene educator and coach. His late father’s inspiration and leadership helped direct Kevin to become active in FCA, first as a part-time regional executive in 2004.
Kevin said one reason he embraced FCA was that it is an instrument to help provide leadership to youth. Leaders in many sectors, he says, unfortunately have become lackadaisical, whether it is in public or private sectors. Reinforcing leadership is what he stresses, including for families.
His presentation focused on four keys:
• Passion for excellence;
All four contribute to a leader being successful and he said being grounded in a belief in God that is sustained with prayer are cornerstones for staying the course.
A passion for excellence is not about succeeding at a satisfactory level.
“When you have an opportunity for excellence and accept mediocrity that should leave a wretched taste in your mouth,” Wade said.
Greg Wade reinforced that with Kevin, who recalled the first year for an FCA camp in Winfield drew 29 students, but the next year drew 160. The vision for excellence was evident to Kevin although it might not have seemed possible the first year.
Vision does not always align itself with goal-setting for Kevin, saying he preferred the term vision because it helps him to be focused and stay on track.
“Without vision we are blind to opportunity,” he said.
Teamwork was something he finally understood while being part of a Paul Dennis-coached team in 1991. During
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a bitterly cold football playoff game Kevin can still remember that it was so cold as a lineman he dug his cleats deep into the turf so his feet would stay warm and he could gain traction. As he gained that traction he remembered the cold was not so deep and he found himself encouraging his teammates.
Teamwork, he said is “selfless.”
“We need each other,” Wade said. “You will go through trials and someone to lift you up and when you do something well you need someone to celebrate with. Pity the man who won’t help you up.”
Wade said people will deal with illness or troubles, but teamwork provides a family of believers to help.
Perseverance, he said, is his favorite key and the most difficult one. When speaking to youth he reminds them that tough losses or challenges in life also build character, a cornerstone in leadership.
“God will have hurdles too high for you to jump over,” he said, adding that it is a reminder of the importance the Lord has in each person life. “That’s when God comes in. He lifts us up over the hurdle.”
Through trials and tribulations, God will bless his believers – in His time. It is a timeless thought for all ages.
“Always excel in the Lord because your reward with the Lord is not in vain,” Wade said.
Abraham Lincoln, considered by many historians be one of the nation’s top all-time presidents, faced personal and professional failures on at least 10 occasions before being elected commander-in-chief in 1860, Wade said. As he went through the list of personal failures, Wade admitted that he would have “thrown in the towel” by No. 3 or 4 on the list. Those failures are a witness to perseverance and gave Lincoln great courage to lead during the Civil War.
Wade concluded his presentation with a short ESPN video about Ben Comen, an 18-year-old high school student who, despite having cerebral palsy, was a contributor and leader on his high school cross country team.
Mayor Dennis Weishaar asked that all elected leaders at the local, state and federal levels set a good example and let their hearts be open to God taking the lead in their lives. He also asked those who believe to lift their prayers for elected officials and those who serve in government to do what is right.
Weishaar also led those who attended in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Wade also offered a prayer for education, noting the importance parents, teachers, administrators and school boards have in molding the nation’s future leaders.
Other community members offered prayer. Pastor Carson Johnson, Abilene Bible Baptist Church, offered prayer in support of the military and military families.
Kyle Campbell, president and chief financial officer for Astra Bank of Abilene, offered a prayer for the business sector. Pastor Shane Britt of Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Abilene, offered a prayer for the faith-based sector. Tina Price, executive director of Pregnancy Service Center, Salina, offered a prayer on behalf of families. Mark Hinca, KJIL Radio station manager, Abilene, addressed the media sector.
Retired educator Gene Hartman was the master of ceremonies. He thanked those who helped organize the event, which had a theme of “One Nation Under God” with a scriptural thought of Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
The Abilene Baptist Academy Choir, under the direction of Jack and Paula Hebert, sang the national anthem as well as “Come Bless the Lord” and “God of Heaven.” Prelude music was played by Peggy Meuli.