Published 2:18 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I went to my last state DECA competition as a teacher last week. DECA is an organization for marketing students.

I have been an active sponsor for the club for my entire career. DECA allows the students to compete, develop leadership skills, become more civically minded and have social interactions not only with their peers, but with professionals as well.

Doug Creamer writes a religion column twice a month for the SNAP.

DECA members compete on the district, state and international levels. In my career, I have been able to take students to the international DECA conference five times. We qualified a number of other times, but were unable to attend for various reasons.

It’s exciting to see your students make it up on the big stage at the state conference. This year two students made it on the stage, and they came off with the biggest smiles.

DECA trips give me and my students an opportunity to get to know each other in a greater way. This year I took my students to Olive Garden, where we shared a great meal and lots of laughs.

We played some games and asked each other some questions. It is interesting to listen and learn about what the next generation thinks. I enjoy spending time with my students.

For a number of years I have worked with the state officer election process.

I give the candidates a test and then help the screening and nominating committee as they interview the candidates.

The committee does a great job assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the various candidates. Each year as I listen to these young people, I find renewed hope for the next generation.

Each year I get a few moments alone with all the candidates right before they take their test. I tell them they have succeeded no matter whether they win or lose. They put themselves on the line.

I also tell them about the time I ran a state officer. It was a close race that year. I might embellish the story just a little each year as I tell it.

Several current and past state officers told me how much they enjoyed the story, so I told it again.

I cherished and enjoyed this year’s DECA conference. I took a great group of students who made me proud to be an East Davidson Golden Eagle. It was fun to go and see some old DECA friends.

As I looked around, I realized that I have become one of the older ones.

How did that happen?

I don’t feel older, but maybe just a little bit wiser.

I want to be a wise person not only in my professional life, but also in my spiritual life. As I consider how I got wiser professionally, I realize that I always found people who were better than me and hung around them.

I tried to glean …OK, steal, any good idea I could from them. I wanted to take advantage of their experience. I realize that if I want to grow spiritually, I am going to have to do the same thing.

I know we can all grow on our own. I believe great growth can come when we are willing to submit and get under some great teachers.

I have been fortunate to have some great pastors who shared their personal experiences. If we can acquire their experiences, we can save ourselves from having to learn the tough lessons they learned. If we will listen and apply the scriptures in the way they teach us, we can become wise.

Wisdom doesn’t always come with age. We have to glean it by listening and applying the lessons presented to us.

The Bible is full of wisdom, but unless we apply it to our lives it is useless. God wants us to succeed and to have a good trip through life. But there is much we have to learn.

I want to surround myself with friends who push me to live up and to reach my highest potential. I want to garner the wisdom from those who have the scars of experience. I want to choose to grow in wisdom, knowledge and insight.

I want to encourage you to consider carefully who surrounds you.

Do the people you call friends have your back?

Do they want the best for you?

Do they see your potential and try to draw it out of you?

Do they encourage you and lift you up when you are down?

Are they wise and are they willing to share their wisdom and insight?

The choice is yours to reach your greatest potential.

Contact Doug Creamer at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or