Another year come and gone. As we enter into 2020, we can reflect back on 2019. We’ve experienced good and bad things in our lives, yet we should be thankful for the blessings sent our way. Many people have experienced tragedy during the past year, and those memories will remain for a lifetime, but we all have things to also be thankful for. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

When we experience tragedy or hard times in our lives, we can find learning experiences we can build upon, as well as good that can come from our experiences if we exercise faith and trust in the Lord. His Word is truth, and His Love is never ending. Now we can look ahead to the coming year and place our focus on what good we can do for one another, for our communities and for our country.

When we think of the coming of a New Year, we tend to think of New Year’s resolutions. Do you set New Year’s resolutions, and if so, do you follow through? I’ve never been much on New Year’s resolutions, but I do contemplate on areas of my life I can improve upon and set goals for myself. Some I accomplish, some not so much. I find it easier to just set small goals for myself instead of huge, unrealistic challenges or resolutions.

If we can focus on several small goals, all leading to a big change, I believe we can excel more as we celebrate the small victories along the way. If you do make New Year’s resolutions, I pray that they are focused on what’s best for you and that you succeed in your endeavors.

The New Year also faces us with new challenges in law enforcement. As times change, as people change, as morals and standards change, so do the rules and laws we are tasked to obey and enforce. Like them or not, we’re faced with them. At the Panola County Sheriff’s Office, we’re always busy training our staff to be the most professional, knowledgeable, courteous servants possible. I solicit your prayers and support for all of our local, state and federal law enforcement officials in this coming year. As with any public occupation, we face many “armchair” critics who are quick to say what we “should have” or “should not have” done in any particular situation. In law enforcement, we have a saying that we make split second decisions that others have years to critique.

Our officers are not perfect, but I can guarantee they have your best interest in mind and strive to do the best they can. I have said many times to our officers that we must serve “from the heart” and not just “by the books.” Law enforcement has never been an easy job, but it is becoming more difficult and less appreciated as the times unfortunately change. Law enforcement in general has taken such a punch in the nose due to the acts of “bad cops” throughout the country. However, I assure you, the good ones FAR outnumber the bad ones!

We are especially blessed in our area with outstanding support from our community, and officers who love this community and the people we serve. I am most humbled and gracious for that. Without a doubt, our officers serve in the best place in the world.

I’ll leave you with this thought from Theodore Roosevelt titled “Dare Greatly” that I recently shared with my staff about what it means to serve “with heart.”

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of the deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the duct and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of the high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least while daring greatly; so that his place shall neither be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

— Theodore Roosevelt, Paris Sorbonne, 1910

It is my prayer that you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. May you all “Dare Greatly” in whatever you set your eyes on, and most importantly, give the Lord the glory in it all.

Until next time, take care and may God bless you!

Kevin Lake is sheriff of Panola County.

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