Words of Wisdom from Dr. Don Essig–Election Results Notwithstanding–Get the Desk Out of the Way!

Okay. About to learn the election results, about to know if there’s a lean in any direction, differently or similar, I came upon this.

Dr. Don Essig and I, he two years my senior, go waaaaay back as members of the Oregon Congregational Church Pilgrim Fellowship [high school youth, he in Eugene and I in Portland.]. Our friendship began building an outdoor chapel at Camp Adams near Molalla, Oregon. Don went on to be, following his university degrees the “Voice of the Oregon Ducks,” announcing their football and I believe their basketball games.

He was in communications, degrees galore, when he taught me a lesson that was fixed in cement in my ministry. Don visited me in my less than cramped office at the First Congregational Church in Eugene. I sat behind my desk, but when he came in, I walked from the desk, shook his hand and sat next to him in front of the desk.

He looked at me, raised and hand and then clapped, “YOU’LL [his emphasis for the caps] will be an excellent minister. You didn’t stay behind your desk. You said you wanted to be on my wave length, nothing about your need for authority. That’s better than good.”

I gulped and have tried since Don’s judgment in 1970, to not lock in behind my desk.

Yesterday Don shared what he will preach as a layman next Sunday in the First Congregational Church…it’s laity time and he and two others will share in the sermon. He’s given me permission to share it.

I love his words and his ministry. And his lesson about never letting a desk get between us. Please read it, and no matter the election results tonight, let ‘Don’s words and discipleship have benefit to and for you.

Go, Dr. Essig!


Having been born and raised in the Congregational Church and being baptized and confirmed by my Grandfather, a 52-year Congregational minister, have definitely been significant factors in the shaping of my life, my values, and my beliefs.

The Congregational Church has been a huge contributor to my belief that Jesus is one of the finest role models one can have when searching for the aspects of one’s life to be the kind of person God has planned for us.

As has been the tradition of the Congregational Church since its beginning, the bible is the guide that allows us to select those qualities that lead us to be true Christians, in the sense that we not only believe in those qualities, but we practice them in every part of our daily living.

My 80-year connection to the Congregational Church has helped me to create, develop, and practice a set of beliefs that have led me to be the eternal optimist and positive thinker about the world that I have become. Those beliefs are as follows:

1) That there are many more people in the world that practice love than those who practice hate.
2) That there are many more people in the world that work to unite than to divide.
3) That there are many more people in the world who are kind and caring than disrespectful and angry.
4) If we have in our lives the belief that goodness does indeed outweigh evil, then there is a significant reason for helping others.
5) By including God in our lives we can definitely make our lives more meaningful and less frightening.

In my younger days my Grandfather Essig taught me a very important message that I have carried for all of my years. He said “If you focus your life on what you can give, then you never have to worry about what you will get.” I have gotten a lot in my life – a loving wife and sons, a huge list of wonderful friends, a tremendous education, and a very meaningful Christian education. So, it has been my job in live to help others to appreciate what they have instead of just wishing for all the things they don’t have.

In one of his not so well-known songs, John Denver shared with us that, “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.” I pray that each of those “first days” that I have left, God will give me the strength to practice and carry out each of my beliefs, and that more people in the world will do the same. That’s the difference I have gained in my life by being a part of the Congregational Church.

Dr. Don Essig


About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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