Many years ago (fourteen to be exact), I remember sitting at my high school baccalaureate service. Being an eighteen year old kid about to finish my secondary education and transitioning to college and adulthood, I remember thinking “what is this minister going to tell me that I do not already know?” Because we all know that high school seniors have the entire world conquered and know everything there is to know about life.
I distinctly remember the message theme being “What is on your t-shirt?” I asked myself, “What and why does it matter?”As with many things, as I became older and wiser, the philosophy behind the message has become much clearer.
As we go through life, we are the walking and talking billboards for things that matter to us. Many times, we express in print by wearing a shirt that depicts something we believe in or like. Whether it is a sports team, our local high school, a favorite band, or a religious theme, what we have on our shirt most likely serves as an advertisement for something we believe is great. It is something with which we are proud to associate. In hindsight, I now know that the minister was telling my class what we project to the world is how the world will see us.
When it comes to your membership in the OPEA, what are you projecting to other state employees both members and non-members? The leadership of the Association is very grateful for your membership. But, as I have said before, I would challenge you to be more than just a dues-paying member. Be engaged. In a figurative sense, put OPEA on your t-shirt and wear it around proudly. OPEA’s leadership and staff can voice everything that is great about this Association. And do so in a convincing fashion. But as a colleague, you will have a much greater impact on preaching OPEA’s message than anyone else.
I understand that preaching that message can occasionally be uncomfortable. The landscape of state employment, as well as Oklahoma’s state government, has changed quite dramatically over the previous seven years. Always remember, that even during difficult times, the OPEA was always there advocating for you. When there were speed bumps, OPEA was there serving as your voice. Even if we were not successful 100 percent of the time, we still had a seat at the table.
I would encourage you to help grow our membership. You are our best advocate. Do not be afraid to be a proud member of this Association. Always remember, the OPEA will be wearing your t-shirt for Oklahoma’s leadership to see.