Remarks from Lifetime Service Award presentation to the Honorable Judge Edna Staudt, December 3, 2021, at the Williamson County Republican Leaders Dinner
“In any successful attack on freedom, the state can only be an accomplice. The chief culprit is the citizen who forgets his duty, wastes away his strength in the sleep of sin and sensual pleasure, and so loses the power of his own initiative.”
Many of you will recognize that quote from theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper.
Freedom can only endure –
- when citizens, and those they entrust with authority, are self-governed;
- when voters and officeholders refuse to idolize government;
- when they instead, bow their knee to the one true and Holy God our Creator;
- when they thank and honor Him by keeping His commandments: to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength, and, to love thy neighbor as thyself.
Tonight, Republican Leaders are recognizing a servant who has lived by those standards.
A true native Texan who epitomizes statesmanship and servant leadership.
Whose motivation has been not the intoxicants of power or politics, profit or prestige, popularity or family privilege and pedigree.
But one motivated by eternal purpose and principles – to lovingly serve fellow citizens on the foundations of these transcendent absolutes: truth, justice and mercy.
One who lives with the constant awareness that right now counts for eternity, and that everything hidden will one day be made known. Everything.
We are honoring one who has made the Lord God Almighty her strength.
One who truly loves the Lord Jesus Christ, is not ashamed of Him or the Gospel, is accountable first and foremost to Him, leading her to excel in her duty as a civil magistrate.
This Republican Leaders Lifetime Service Award bears the name of its first recipient, a tireless champion for life, liberty and human dignity.
Please join me in recognizing the 2021 Leader of the Year, and recipient of the first ever, Judge Edna Staudt Lifetime Service Award.
Judge Staudt, 35 years ago when you and I first met at the conference which Adrian Van Zelfden conducted on a “Christian’s Role in Civil Government”, we could never have imagined we would be standing here tonight reflecting on how God has used you to impact countless lives for eternity.
A long list of fellow champions for life and liberty, both those living and departed, are more worthy of making these remarks on this occasion: A list that includes names like Bob Phillips, Evelyn Davison, Jan Galbraith, Milton Rister, Darryl Pool, Bill Fairbrother, Tim Lambert, Lucille Turner, Clifford & Calissa Worthy, Wes & Jan Griffin, Terry Gillham, Donna Davidson, Chuck Norris, Richard Ford, Dr. Jim Leininger, Dr. Steve Hotze, Kelly Shackleford, Marlin Maddoux, Kerby Anderson, Marvin & Susan Olasky, Tom Pauken, Anne Lassiter (added post presentation), or,
- any one of your faithful court staff over the past three decades;
- the 1,000 + students you have trained through Williamson County YMCA Teen Court;
- the countless individuals and families you have put an arm around and prayed with on dark, cold nights in the midst of tragedy, trauma and confusion;
- those you have offered a second chance through faith-based deferred adjudication;
- the hundreds of juveniles and families, and their volunteer mentors who have been powerfully impacted by your leadership;
- the Texans throughout the state who have been delivered from the debtors prison of that egregious surcharge program you relentlessly advocated for sweeping into the dust bin of history;
- those who received both justice and mercy in your court, and whom you referred to life-changing resources;
- the hundreds, if not thousands, of Texans who are alive today because you helped give them a voice before they drew their first breath.
There are two souls in particular who are much more worthy than I of making this presentation:
Adrian Van Zelfden, who was a tremendous catalyst in your career and whose enduring influence continues to quietly shape the moral conscience of Texas politics.
And your beloved Randy, whose counsel and encouragement, wisdom and wisecracks, provided you both the iron-sharpening and comic relief through these years of service.
If Randy were here, I could just hear him, along with your lovely daughter, Amy, petitioning GSDM and lobbying the Texas Legislature to change the slogan,
“’Don’t Mess with Texas’ to ‘Don’t Mess with Edna’”
They are one and the same.
If Randy had been asked to describe you, I am confident he would quickly refer to the Book of Judges, Chapters 4 & 5. If he had been asked to describe what motivates you, he would refer to Micah 6:8, or, to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, particularly Chapter 8.
To the candidates, officeholders present here tonight, and those to come in future years, the late Bum Phillips, former head coach of the Houston Oilers, was once asked, “Coach Phillips, do you believe Earl Campbell is in a class by himself?” In his typical wit, Phillips replied, “Earl may not be in a class by himself, but it wouldn’t take long to call roll.”
Judge Staudt, you are in a class by yourself. But you shouldn’t be. It is my prayer there will one day be enough worthy nominees for this award to fill numerous classrooms, nominees who have walked the talk and resolutely advanced the cause of life and liberty, personal responsibility, duty, and limited government with integrity, humility, and decisiveness.
Judge Staudt, no award or recognition this side of heaven is sufficient to truly honor you.
But I am confident of this: you will one day receive the greatest honor, that day when you are addressed with the words,
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!”
Copyright © 2021 Don Stroud