Reflections of a Public Servant

 

by Rod Roberts

On July 21 I held a press conference at the Iowa State Capitol where I announced the creation of an exploratory committee to run for the office of governor. Since then I have made my candidacy official.

The decision to run for governor came as the result of months of travel, meetings, conversations, and thoughtful deliberation. My family and many close friends were key in helping me make this decision. Many prayers were offered in the months leading up to my decision.

I have been an extremely fortunate and blessed public servant for many years. My life of public service has paralleled my vocational service in the church. My role as a development director with the Christian churches/churches of Christ in Iowa has included the responsibilities of overseeing new church development as well as assisting local churches with strategies for congregational growth and health and leadership development. Both avenues of service are shaped by my Christian faith and are very people oriented.

 

Influences on the Journey

My personal journey might be unique in some respects, but each person’s individual journey is shaped significantly by the people, places, and events that serve as key markers along the way. Our parents and siblings, as well as extended family members, are the most noticeable early influencers in our lives. Later on, our spouse and children, and then grandchildren, become the significant others who help to shape us as individuals. The larger circle of people who come from our church homes, communities, friendship circles, and workplaces also contribute to the unique life tapestry that defines us as individuals.

The places we live also shape us to a large extent. The economic and social environment in which we live has a tremendous impact on our lives. Our values and outlook on life are influenced tremendously by the place we dwell.

Events in our lives certainly have an impact on shaping who we are. A wedding, the birth of a child or grandchild, and an illness or a death of a loved one leaves an imprint on us. Career advancements or setbacks are also significant, as is the life-changing experience of military service. Opportunities for personal or professional growth can have far-reaching effects too.

Each of us is on a meaningful journey in life. The people, places, and events in our lives help shape who we are. I have a Midwest upbringing with a typical Iowa flavor. My church home is the Liscomb Church of Christ in central Iowa. It had an important influence in my teenage years. I attended Iowa Christian College in Des Moines. In my vocational life I served two different new church plants, and eventually was called to help lead new church development efforts in the state of Iowa. This calling to serve as executive director with the Christian Evangelistic Mission is one of the single most important factors in opening the door to a fulfilling and meaningful life of public service.

 

Giving Back

My parents instilled in me the ideal that “giving back” to others is a virtue. It starts in one’s family and church home, but soon includes one’s community. This belief carried over into my adult life.

When my wife, Trish, and I moved to our current community of Carroll in 1985, we immediately became involved as a part of a large brigade of volunteers who went door-to-door advocating construction of a new high school building. The new facility was desperately needed due to overcrowding. The referendum was passed by the required “super majority of 60 percent plus one,” and the new high school was built.

At about the same time, I became a Rotarian and have been active ever since. I served as the Rotary Club president in 1990. I have also been a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International for many years.

One of the most rewarding areas of my public service in Carroll was serving on the board of directors for New Hope Village, an accredited residential and vocational facility for mentally and physically disabled adults. I also served on the New Hope Village Foundation Board and as foundation president. New Hope Village is held in high regard across Iowa for its outstanding service to disabled adults. Many of Carroll’s leaders have served it unselfishly.

 

Public Service

In the summer of 1996, I was approached by the president of the Carroll Community School Board to run for an open seat. I was elected to the school board that fall in a very competitive race, and served four years.

In 2000 I entered the contest to become a state representative to the Iowa General Assembly and was elected to my first term in the Iowa House. I am now serving my fifth term (each term is two years in length). My colleagues in the House Republican Caucus have consistently re-elected me to a leadership position, and I now have the distinction of being the “senior” member of our caucus leadership team.

After considerable encouragement, I am now involved in a statewide campaign to become governor of Iowa. I do not know where my journey will take me next. The markers along my path give a very strong indication that I am to proceed. There will be challenges and occasional setbacks ahead, but there will also be successes to celebrate.

 

Trusting the Lord

I know the Lord will provide guidance. I take heart in these well-known words from Proverbs: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (3:6); “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (16:3). With a servant’s heart I begin this new adventure.

Your journey in life is unique as well. So are the markers that line your pathway. We never know what the next bend in the road may hold for us, but when we trust the Lord, we are prepared for the next leg of our journey.


 

 

 

Rod Roberts serves as executive director with Christian Evangelistic Mission of Iowa and as an Iowa state legislator.

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