I had some success in rodeo, especially in the southeast United States. I hold a couple of arena records in Steer Wrestling that won’t be broken. *Walt Garrison held the Steer Wrestling record for twelve years before I broke it.
I grew up in a preacher’s home. When I started thinking about the cowboy deal my dad was like, “We don’t do that.” I said, with a laugh, “What do you mean, we?” Then I thought, “When I get out of this house I am going to do exactly what I wan to do.” Dad thought cowboys were heathens. When the rodeo came to town you locked up your wife. You brought the kids in off the street at dark because somebody is going to get whipped and somebody’s going to go to jail. Usually it was the cowboys. They were going to come in with that wild west philosophy. There were going to shoot up the town and shoot out the lights. Heck’s going to paid on Saturday night.
I never ran around on my wife. I was never a drunken, fighting, going into the bar, picking a fight with the locals kind of guy. But I was just as far away from God as those guys were. I was doing what I wanted to do. I was worshiping at the God of rodeo. Every dime I made was spent on entry fees and travel expenses. We would drive five hours on Friday afternoon to be at a rodeo Friday night. We’d go compete in the **slack another two hours away, finally getting in bed by about 3:00 or 4:00am. Then we would get up on Saturday and go to two more rodeos. We might hit five rodeos in one weekend. It was nothing to spend $400.00-$500.00 in a weekend, when I was only making $300.00 a week at my job. I’d write checks at the store, telling the guy, “Don’t turn this check in until Monday. Let me get back home.” I would use the money from the bad check to pay my rodeo entry fees. I was taking food of the table.
The whole emotional strain that I was putting on my wife could have wrecked or marriage. There were a lot of times she was thinking, “I don’t know why I stay here.” We had two separate deals. She was teaching school, and I was pursuing the God of ME!
I was working a construction job in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Those guys found I was a rodeo cowboy. They asked, “How do you pay your entry fees every week?” I told them it was tough paying the entry fees working a concrete job. They said, “What if we help pay your fees and you give us part of what you win?” I said, “Sure, that’s a good idea.” So those guys would put me on the road and when I returned they wanted to know, “What did you win, man?” I would sometimes say, “I did good. I won about $1,800.00 this weekend.” Then I would give them their share. I would pay some $100.00, some $150.00. I was enjoying it. I was thinking, “Man, I’ll never see another poor day. When I start winning all this money I’m going to be exactly where I want to be. I’ll have status. Folks will say, ‘I’ve seen that guy on TV.’” That wasn’t it. I chased it for a long time and that wasn’t it.
I just said, “Alright, Lord. If this is the way it’s going to be. I’m not going to be a world champion. I’m just going to go to the rodeos you want me to go to.” A lot of rodeos have a Cowboy Church service. I started being asked to sing and then after a while I started being asked to speak at those church services. It made sense to them because I was one of them. I wasn’t a preacher coming in a three piece suit and a watch chain, a vest, and my hair just right, sprayed down with hairspray. I was one of them. I was dirty. I’d get calf snot and bull poop on me. God opened up a ministry out of the blue. But I had to get knocked around a little bit for Him to get my attention. I could see how God had changed me and I welcomed that changed. I didn’t like the guy I was before. I became a husband. I wasn’t the guy that she shared the bed with that was worried about, “Am I going to win anything next week.”
I’m no longer asking God to get in on what I’m doing. I have gotten in on what God is doing.
**Rodeo slack is an over flow of contestants in a performance. Slack is held only if the performances fill.