James 4:10 – Be willing to be made low before the Lord and he will exalt you!

Gratitude 696

Over the years, I have shared various Hubby Rick stories. Honestly, I know these posts often resonate with people the most. Why? Because of whom Hubby Rick is. He’s the guy that everyone wants to know his name because he is a joy to be around. He knows how to bring light and a smile to a situation and often makes some silly comment that leads everyone to break out into laughter or at least a chuckle.

While Rick would not be comfortable with me dedicating an entire post to his most recent accomplishment, I am going to anyway. Why? Because there are lessons for all of us to learn from his example. And he probably will never read this post, so it can be my story. Rick never reads the blog. He only discovers what I write about when someone else mentions it to him.

Last Friday was a big day for Hubby Rick: he retired. For over 45 years, Rick has driven truck. The first 25 years, he hauled milk from dairy farms to various milk processing facilities. When he stopped driving milk truck, his son took over the milk hauling business, just like Rick took over the business from his Dad.

For the last 21.5 years, Rick drove petroleum truck for Kwik Trip, a convenience store chain in the upper Midwest. If you ever see one of those long tanker trucks on the interstate that hauls fuel, this is the type of truck Hubby Rick drove. In those 21.5 years, Rick delivered over 17,000 loads of fuel to gas stations and drove over 1.5 million miles for work.

Early in his employment with Kwik Trip, Rick worked days part of the week and nights part of the week. This meant his sleep schedule was rarely the same. He was the last petroleum driver to switch out of the swing shift. When he did, he chose to work the night shift. When most people would be getting up in the morning to start their day, Rick was just going to bed. The featured photo shows Rick dropping the last load of fuel on his last shift at his home store in Mauston, WI at 2 AM on Thursday morning last week.

While his last shift finished Thursday morning, his last official workday was on Friday. He attended one of the year-end Kwik Trip meetings. Rick asked that I go with him to the meeting, his last official duty as an employee. While enroute to the meeting, Rick’s supervisor called and asked how soon he would be arriving, which seemed a little odd. When we arrived, Rick was shuffled to the front of the room. His supervisors knew that this would be something that Rick would not prefer, as he would rather hang out in the back of the room with the other drivers.

During the meeting, it was stated that this was Rick’s last day. After the meeting, he was shuffled to another area, where he was awarded a special recognition by the CEO and President of Kwik Trip, Don Zietlow.

Don started his career driving grocery truck. He felt that the employees were not always valued at the company he worked for. When he became sole owner of Kwik Trip in 2000, Don committed to sharing 40% of the profit with the employees, the people he feels makes or breaks a company. Currently, Kwik Trip is the only privately-owned company in the United States that offers this benefit to its employees. While Don is no longer actually an owner of Kwik Trip (ownership has been transferred to subsequent generations of the Zietlow family), the 87-year-old man remains very involved in the company and still goes to work every day.

Don presented Rick with a special carved rendition of a Kwik Trip tanker truck. Later, one of Rick’s supervisors shared with me that Rick is only the third Kwik Trip driver to ever be presented one of these trucks. This is quite amazing, considering that Kwik Trip currently employees nearly 30,000 people.

After the photo op, several members of the petroleum management team spoke with me about Rick and the impression that he has left within this area of the company. All of the supervisors indicated that they knew Rick would be very uncomfortable with a public presentation for his retirement. This is why he was not told in advance. They all admire his humbleness, commitment and dedication to the company, the example he sets for other drivers and his positive attitude. Every single management team member shared how Rick has taught them invaluable lessons; lessons that help them do their jobs every day. The respect and admiration they have for Rick is real and not overstated.

As I listened to the admiration these younger guys spoke about my husband, it made me so proud that they are able to see and recognize the personality and gifts that originally drew me to him. While most people would look at Rick and think he is just a semi driver, these guys see so much more. They spoke of how he takes time to help the new drivers and models the type of employee they wished all the drivers would choose to be. He gives suggestions about how to be safe and efficient and pitches in whenever someone needs help. They would take a whole bunch of drivers like Rick; I was told repeatedly. Believe me, my heart was ready to burst as I listened to these guys speak about my Hubby Rick.

When Rick celebrated his 20-year anniversary with Kwik Trip, he was given an opportunity to share some wisdom at a meeting with fellow petroleum drivers. Let’s be honest: driving flammable fuel is not for the faint of heart. It is a dangerous job. At this meeting, Rick acknowledged that every driver has had instances where things could have turned out disastrous, including himself. Yet, Rick knows that a guardian angel has always been with him, and this angel is God. Rick was very intentional about witnessing to his faith. He knew in advance this was what he wanted to share with his fellow drivers.

I do not believe it is a secret that Rick’s wife is a pastor. I am quite confident that the newbie Petro drivers quickly discover this is part of Rick’s background. Does this change how some of the driver’s look at Rick? Possibly. Because of this, though, I have often called Rick the unofficial Kwik Trip petroleum driver chaplain. Countless times, other drivers have sought Rick out and shared something from their lives. Maybe they just needed someone to listen. Or possibly they were hoping Rick and I would pray for them. Rick has had access to a group of people I would never be able to reach as a pastor. He has embraced this role to be a confidant and a listener for other drivers and provided them a safe place to share their stories and challenges. This is true mission work in my opinion, and one Rick has readily embraced throughout his career.

No, Rick does not have a fancy theological education … and has no desire to earn one. Rick does not quote Bible verses or pray laborious prayers out loud. But he lives his faith. Every. Single. Day. Not so much in what he says, as public speaking is not his gig. His faith is witnessed in how he lives his life. Every. Single. Day.

A well-known theologian named Karl Barth once said, “Live your faith daily. But only use words when necessary.” Hubby Rick has discovered the unique ability to do this in a way that I admire and wish I could often replicate. He’s relatable, funny, and can say something important in such a way that others take note. Yes, he knows that he makes mistakes and is quick to acknowledge this. He is very aware that he needs redeeming and knows Who is the One that has accomplished this for him.

So often, we think that the people who do “real” ministry work are those who lead large churches or ministries that everyone is aware of. I have a different opinion. If the world had more Hubby Rick’s — people who want to fly under the radar and see every day as an opportunity to do a little mission work in some ordinary, regular way — I think people would have a different opinion about faith, God and what it means to love God and neighbor. Rick needs no recognition for the mission work he does, which he gladly does. Every. Single. Day. But this is who he is. This is what is important to him. This is how he has chosen to live his life. And this is why I want to live every day with my Hubby Rick.

For the opportunity to share about a very humble and important man in my life, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Dear God – Somehow, You knew that I needed a man like Hubby Rick in my life. And You are the One that made it happen. Thank you for creating a humble man who simply chooses to live his faith. Every. Single. Day. May he embrace this new season of his life and find lots of new opportunities to do mission work for Your kingdom. Amen.

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