Farmer, Preacher, Manager

Posted by cservaes on September 19, 2011 in Alumni, "Current Students" Russell Amburn always thought he’d retire as a dairy farmer. “The most wonderful sights and sounds were watching a cow and newborn calf,” Amburn says. “Watching this miracle of new life somehow made everything in the world seem OK for a moment.” Amburn spent most of his childhood with his great-uncle, who owned and ran a dairy farm. Shortly after high school, Amburn took over. It was a small farm, so he also rented out other properties to help turn a profit. “If I had the education I now have, I probably could have made it work,” says Amburn. When he could no longer rent out the extra land, he was forced to quit farming and began work at a metal manufacturing plant. Years later, this former dairy farmer was asked to fill in as a preacher one day at his church. He began preaching at other small churches when substitutes were needed. It was only natural that when his church, Monroe Church of Christ, needed a preacher, Amburn stepped in and took the job as a bi-vocational pastor. “Preaching is much more than talking to a group of members on Sunday, and I had a large learning curve,” Amburn says. “I worked a full-time job while preaching, and it was a challenge to manage my time between the church work, my job and college.” Amburn kept this pace almost the entire time he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Ottawa University’s campus in Jeffersonville. About halfway through his master’s degree, his education paid off. “After 24 years of the same job, it was hard to leave,” Amburn says. “I was stepping into a management role. While I had filled in before, I had never been entirely responsible for the whole department. The things you learn in class and read in textbooks come together.” When he began this new job at NetShape Technologies, which demanded more time and responsibility, he handed the preaching position over to someone else. “I could not do justice to preaching, manage my new job and complete my MBA,” says Amburn, “and there was someone who wanted to take the job for a while. So, I let him take the position and knew the church was in good hands.” Amburn feels blessed to have been able to preach, and his congregation must have felt equally as blessed. “About half of the Monroe congregation attended my undergraduate commencement,” he says. “All of these experiences  and knowledge total who I am.”