Nationals Visits Texas

By Robert Bember
National Advisor

For those of you who are loyal followers of our blog, you will recall that I typically will visit the University of Texas, Texas State and Houston Baptist in one trip. For the other 99.9 percent of you (the 0.1 percent being reserved for my mom and people who’s arms I twist to read my blog and make me feel good about myself), now you know. Yep, this is what my introductions have come to after roughly 30 visit blogs in almost two years. Sorry I’m not sorry.

And my loyal followers will likely also remember that on my last trip to the Alpha Chapter at Texas, I was promised piles of succulent bar-b-que at the Saltlick only to have my heart ripped out when I was informed we wouldn’t be going. Fortunately, there’s new leadership in office, and they made all my dreams come true by taking me to the Saltlick. So, needless to say, I was already feeling pretty good about the 2012 officers.
I didn’t realize the Saltlick only took cash, so we stopped at a gas station with an ATM. I hustled inside because the officers told me they were timing me, and I just missed the time they set. They didn’t leave me despite their threats. We trekked through the Texas Hill Country in President Travis Marshall’s soccer mom mobile and had some great talks about life, the fraternity, Christ and mindless action movies (a favorite genre of mine).
The Saltlick was packed. While we waited, we enjoyed the crooning of a heavy-set guy whose voice didn’t seem to match his appearance. The minutes seem to slow down as I knew what magical meat awaited.
And the food didn’t disappoint. I’ll confess that it wasn’t the best bar-b-que I’ve ever had, but it was great nonetheless. I would enjoy bathing in the sauce. It was that good. If you find it weird that I would bathe in bar-b-que sauce, then you clearly aren’t from Texas.
Since this isn’t a food review, I guess I’ll talk about BYX. The Alpha Chapter is doing some great things. Their leadership is strong, with men well-equipped for their responsibilities and passionate about their chapter. Their membership is well above where they have been historically. On top of that, men are looking for ways to serve, and the officers are providing numerous avenues and positions for the men to pour themselves out for the sake of BYX.
I started off a long day by getting breakfast with Chaplain John Wilbur at Juan in a Million. Juan in a Million is famous for their breakfast tacos. It was a little off the beaten path, but it was worth it for the mountain of eggs, potato, bacon and cheese. John has a great understanding and vision for the chaplain position and the spiritual direction of the fraternity.
We headed over to campus, and I set up shop in the student union for a few hours. A number of brothers came by to hang out for a little while. It’s encouraging when I get a chance to sit down with members who aren’t officers. There are often misconceptions at the local chapter level in regards to Nationals, so it’s nice to sit down with members and prove that I’m a decent human being that isn’t just trying to control how they do BYX, take their money and police their conduct. Men came and went over the couple of hours before continuing one-on-ones with the officers.
Island Party becomes front-page news every spring with most chapters, including the Alpha Chapter. A few years ago, the men realized that doing a Christian concert isn’t the best way to get non-Christians to come to a party. So now the Alpha Chapter just hosts a big open with music and dancing. Vice President Matt Waterman has put an emphasis on honoring the Lord with Island Party even more than in the past. He’s seeing the event through the correct lens. His hope is that students would come out and see that they can have a good time in a clean-cut, God-honoring environment. He’s done a great job of delegating responsibilities and getting members involved.
Pledge Captain Joe Work is doing a great job with his pledges, on top of having a cool name. The pledges are a diverse group of guys with different gifts, but the Alpha Chapter has a strong pledge process that is bonding the men together and producing commitment.
Chapter went well. Secretary Daniel Ogilvie has chapter organized down to the minute to respect the members’ time. Senior Sam Lauffenburger spoke on how academics need to be approached in a God-glorifying manner. Following chapter, we hustled over to the tower on campus to sing worship with Sigma Phi Lambda. It was a cool setting to worship the Lord in song with the ladies of Phi Lamb.
At lunch the next day, I had a great talk with Treasurer Andrew Weissgarber about a subject I’m far too familiar with. I told the men not to buy into their own hype because I’ve witnessed first hand what can happen when you start to see your chapter as bulletproof. Andrew started asking me what that looked like and what resulted. It was a difficult season to walk through, and I would hate to see one of my chapters walk through a similar stretch.
The Alpha Chapter does a lot of things well, but that doesn’t mean they always will. That doesn’t mean they can’t improve. The worst thing they can do as a chapter is to believe they have it all figured out. I trust that the men will walk with the humility necessary to lead their chapter well.

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