Monday, February 14, 2005

A Man of Honor & Conviction

In case you missed it...

From Motor Racing Outreach -- Tuesday January 25, 2005


Who is David Smith? Why is this, the lead story?

This past Monday morning, I was writing this week’s “Pit Note” concerning leadership without knowing about David Smith’s most recent decision. His commitment to live out his personal faith in Christ, even leaving the only place he wanted to be, provides the perfect illustration for this week’s message.

Last week, David Smith resigned from RCR after 25 years as a member of this team. He was a six-time all-pro jack man on Dale Earnhardt’s crew. He rose to be Crew Chief for Dale, and then became team manager. Over the past 25 years, he has performed every other duty on the team. He started with Richard Childress in 1979, being there even before Earnhardt. Not long after, he left a life filled with drugs and rebellion. His repentance of his sins, acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as payment for his sins, and surrender to Jesus Christ was what changed his life. For the past 25 years, David has consistently lived out and spoken of his faith, everyday and everywhere he has traveled. He has been as comfortable telling of the power of Jesus to change lives in the NASCAR garage, as he is in the many pulpits that he has graciously given his time to fill. David and Ned Jarrett were the two men in NASCAR who always boldly shared the gospel when asked to give the pre-race invocation before MRO was even formed.

Why is he leaving? Jack Daniels Liquor will be the sponsor on one of the RCR cars. David said his decision actually was made years ago when he gave up his wayward ways to become a Christian. "I trusted the Lord with my life, and He changed it around for me," Smith said. "I went to work for Richard in 1979 and told him when I went there that I'd work for him as long as he didn't have an alcohol, dirty magazine or gambling sponsorship on his car. And, he was OK with that." He went on the say, "The absolute hardest part of this deal was to tell Richard that I was leaving after 25 years. I had a great job, the best anybody could ask for. I may never have a job as great as this again, but I'll have peace of mind from knowing that what I did was the right thing to do. That's worth more than money." Childress said that although he and Smith are on different sides of the liquor issue he still highly respects him. "I've admired David Smith for years," Childress said. "I've always said I wish I could have been as strong a man as he was many, many years ago." (Quotes from the (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) (1-21-2005)


This week, many changes in personnel among the NASCAR teams can be found in the Daytona garages, but none were made out of conviction like David’s. None were based on a commitment made to God over a quarter of a century ago like David’s. None would be so consistent with one’s faith. Consistency in seeking more money, position or prestige would be the general reasons for changing teams.

So, while the media documents the speeds on the track, talks about the rule changes and the effect they will have on the season to come, another important element will be mostly overlooked: leadership. Teams have owners, general managers, competition directors, crew chiefs, car chiefs, engineers, department heads, etc. Many titles, many different job descriptions from team to team, but all teams seek to find a management structure that will allow their teams to work together smoothly, resulting in success on the track. Seldom is there success on the track without good leadership throughout a race team. Never is there long term, lasting success without leadership. But which player in the leadership team is the lynch pin who set everything in motion is seldom ever totally known. It is even possible that the key figure may not even have a title on the team.

The purpose of Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) is to introduce the racing community to personal faith in Christ, to growth in Christlikeness and to active involvement in the church through relationships that provide care in times of stress, knowledge of God’s word and assistance in development of leadership skills.

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