“Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” Mark 9:35

My parents provided a wonderful spiritual foundation for my life. Mom and Dad were selfless servants of others and great examples of faith. Mom made sure my sister Amy and I understood the importance of the Bible and how to apply it to our lives. Amy influenced my spiritual life, too, by teaching me how to pray and comforting me when I was afraid or going through a hard time. But it was a long time before my family’s faith became my own.

I didn’t have a personal passion for God when I was young. I went to church because it was what we did. To me, Christianity was just a tedious routine. You went to church on Sunday, prayed before meals and bedtime, and if you were a Super Christian, you went to church Wednesday night too. And that was it.

All that wasn’t important to me, so I focused on becoming a competitive water skier, writing and performing music, getting my education, and simply enjoying life. Of course, those things weren’t wrong in and of themselves, but I was doing them without God in mind. Eventually, I got off course and made some decisions that could have easily landed me behind bars.

One day, as I thought about the things I’d done, I was overcome with guilt and shame. I was disappointed in my life choices. I was far from the person I had been raised to be, and I knew I wasn’t who God wanted me to be. But as I wrestled with these emotions, I felt God telling me, “It’s okay. I forgive you.” Overwhelming peace flooded my being. God’s love completely wrecked me. I finally understood that God loved me. He knew me intimately—knew every mistake—and yet He had forgiven me.

That encounter changed my life. With a fresh understanding of His love, I was able to turn my life around and make better choices. I became passionate about this God whom I had previously known only from a distance. I yearned to know more about Him, to worship Him, and to share Him with others so they could know Christ’s love and forgiveness too.

I wanted to be real, to tell others about God as honestly as I could, to be fully authentic—as a friend, husband, teacher, athlete, son, brother, and even a stranger. I set out to create these relationships with others by learning to serve them. People are hungry for authenticity. They need to know that somebody really cares. It’s hard to tell others about a God who loves unconditionally if we don’t take the time to show them His love ourselves. We have to love people to Christ.