He had hands like leather and a sharp quick wit. He couldn’t read or write. His dad died before he was a year old and his mom passed before he was five. Living with his grandparents, he emancipated himself at age 12 by going to the courthouse and had himself declared an adult. He got a job “skinning mules”, which means he drove mules as they hauled timber.

He married Pauline. Their oldest child died in a tragic accident at home. The other two, Laverne and Jack, were taught to ride horses, grow a garden, work a rope, hunt, fish and to never be afraid of hard work.

They lived in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. He was a sharecropper who tended to 15 acres of crops. They lived in a shack of a house for free while he followed a mule plowing rows and nursing cotton.

Later in life, he took a job with the U.S. Forestry service making $1.00 per hour. It was the most income he had ever seen. With that, he leased some land from the government (at a dollar per year…imagine that!) and built a four-room house which included a living room, kitchen, and two bedrooms. It wasn’t until later that an actual bathroom replaced the outhouse that sat beyond the potato patch.

His name was Jack. He was my grandfather and my Dad’s dad. I called him Pa. He did hard things. The garden he grew fed his family. He followed a mule because the crops that he sold would put shoes on their feet and clothes on their backs. The pigs and cows on the farm were not a hobby. They were used for trade and food. Hunting and fishing were enjoyed but they were also necessary. He did hard things.

It was a month or so before his death. I was visiting him in the nursing home. Out of the blue he said, “Boy…I loved your grandmother. I kissed her daily. I raised a family. Put a roof over their heads, fed them and made sure they all went to school. I prayed. Tried to follow God. It was hard. But it was worth it. I have finished well.” I’ll never forget those words. It was hard – but it was worth it. He died some weeks later.

Because my Grandfather was willing to do hard things, my Dad was able to join the Air Force and walk alongside Presidents and Vice Presidents. I was able to go to college, fall in love with radio and help change the world with the gospel.

You ask why am I so passionate about what I do? One of the reasons is my grandfather. I don’t want to squander his legacy. He did hard things so my Dad and I could have a shot at a life he never had.

If he could follow a mule, I can have tough conversations. If he could hunt and fish for food for his family, I can have the courage to ask donors to support this ministry. If he could raise a family in poverty and challenge them to do amazing things with their lives, then I can challenge my team to take risks and make a dent in the world. He taught me a lesson. Do hard things. Why? Because easy never changed the world.

May we not squander the opportunities we have been given.

His name was Jack.

He was my Grandpa.

He did hard things and he did not shrink from them…may we follow his example.

Be like Pa.

Hope will triumph.

Easy never changed the world.


– Brian Sanders

Brian Sanders is an author/speaker and Executive Vice President of Positive Alternative Radio. To contact him or for more information about his book, Leadership Endurance, visit .