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one to one: thy staff...they comfort me


Keith Burden is the executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Email Keith at


To learn more about the National Association of Free Will Baptists, visit


By the time you read this, the 2008 national convention will be history. Based on past experience it will probably go down as another successful associational meeting. However, this convention was not without its challenges. Here are a few examples that made preparations for our annual gathering in Charleston, West Virginia, more interesting than usual:

  • CVB changes—The entire staff of the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Charleston changed…completely.

  • Family crises—My wife and I lost our five-day-old granddaughter in September. Our bookkeeper’s husband had heart by-pass surgery in December. The registration coordinator’s father passed away in May after an extended illness. In June, ONE Magazine’s managing editor (and my assistant convention manager for this year) ruptured his Achilles tendon in a sporting accident and required surgery.
    Space shortages—There were too few hotel rooms. The Civic Center was undersized.

  • Registration difficulties—The new online registration program had “bugs” in it and created numerous problems. The credit card function was out of service for extended periods.

  • Too many irons in the fire—This year I attempted to perform the jobs of both the executive secretary and convention manager. I was reminded why we normally have two men in these positions.

These were the major challenges. We encountered countless other minor set-backs and roadblocks along the way. Mr. Murphy must have been thinking about us when he came up with his law—if anything can go wrong it will, and at the worst possible time!

What is the point in telling you this? It is not to play on your sympathy or fish for a compliment. We simply did our jobs. Problem solving goes with the territory. All Christian leaders face similar difficulties from time to time.

Instead, these experiences afforded two unique opportunities. First, they allowed us to extol the faithfulness of God. Were there some anxious moments? Sure! But, the Lord came through every single time. In the words of Dr. Stan Toler, “God has never failed me, but He sure has scared me to death a few times!”

Second, these events reaffirmed the faith and confidence I have in my staff. They are unquestionably some of God’s most dedicated servants. They didn’t grumble. They didn’t complain. They rolled up their sleeves and helped “get ‘er done.” Free Will Baptists owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

The Psalmist David was right. During those periods when I walk through the valley of the shadow, I can do so without fear. Why? Because the Good Shepherd is with me; and my staff…they comfort me too.


©2007 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists