Grateful to Have Served
“Where there is no law there is no liberty.” – Benjamin Rush, civic leader and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
It has been my honor to have served my state for 16 years as a “lawmaker” in Jefferson City (2003-2010 in the Missouri House of Representatives, and 2013-2020 in the Missouri Senate). On January 6, my tenure will end with the swearing in of the new District 31 senator – Sen.-elect Rick Brattin. Recently the above quote from Benjamin Rush caught my eye because it captures both the purpose and importance of the laws we debated and passed during the years I have served.
Despite my ongoing conviction that both state and federal government have been extended beyond their constitutional jurisdictions, it is true that without law there is no liberty, because it is law that describes where one man or woman’s liberty offends the liberty of another and decides what penalty that offense warrants. In a constitutional republic, law is the expression of society’s consensus of where those lines should be drawn.
During my time in public service, I have tried to stay true to my oath of office:
“I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the state of Missouri, and faithfully perform the duties of my office, and that I will not knowingly receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law.”
During my time in office, I was blessed with friends and constituents who were not afraid to confront me if they thought I was acting or thinking in conflict with that oath. Once out of office, I pray I will be as bold as they have been to point out errors in judgement or misplaced loyalties.
On May 15, the final day of the 2020 regular session, retiring senators were recognized to reflect on their time in the Missouri Senate. Following are my remarks from that opportunity, and I reprint them as an expression of my gratitude and honor in serving:
“When I consider my unimagined path to the Missouri Senate, it would have to begin many years ago when my parents, and especially my mother, set an example of faith. Her trust in the Bible and in Jesus Christ helped bring me to faith and to the knowledge that I could entrust my days and my future to His watchful eye. I could not have foreseen that the path He chose for me would eventually take me to the Missouri Senate and to the opportunities and blessings of serving here.
I won’t delay by describing either all that God did to prepare me to serve here, nor all the ways He has blessed me during my time in the Senate, but two rewards that I cannot ignore are the many constituents and supporters whom I might otherwise never have met, but who have become great friends and the lasting relationships that have developed in and around the Senate. My wife, Rebecca, who has been my greatest supporter and is here today in the gallery, has often said: “there are three things important in this life – relationships, relationships and relationships.”
My prayer today is that those relationships will endure far beyond my Senate career – that they will be secure not just in this life but the next.
One thing I have learned from others is that I am nothing, I have nothing, and I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. I thank Him for allowing me to serve alongside each of you and alongside the others who have passed through this chamber or have served it during my tenure here. As often as God brings you to mind, you will be in my prayers.”
This will be my final Capitol Report, and many have asked me what I will miss most upon leaving the Senate. Certainly the relationships that I leave in Jefferson City will be missed. I will miss my faithful staff who responded with grace and thoroughness to my demands and our constituents’ needs. If you wish to express your appreciation personally, you may mail any cards or notes to P.O. Box 123, Lamar, MO 64759, and I will see that they receive them.
What I will miss most is “being in the fight” from the halls of the Missouri Capitol – the fight for individual liberty and economic freedom. However, I was once told that the only thing more powerful than authority is influence. From this point forward, I hope to employ whatever influence I have to advance the liberty that is rooted in the eternal Lord Jesus Christ and in the protection of that liberty which is the proper role of government.
Finally, I am mindful of the words of a beloved pastor who, after 16 years at the same church, spoke these words on the day he resigned to take up service on the home mission field. “Sixteen years ago when I accepted a call to pastor here, I made some of you happy,” he said. “During the time I have pastored here, I have made some of you happy,” he continued. “Today, I will make the rest of you happy.” Those words seem applicable as well to anyone leaving public office.
May God’s blessings continue to be upon you in this New Year and for decades to follow.