By Jamie Shafer
Doug Hedrick has learned to thrive in the midst of living a dual professional life. For the past 15 years, his career has led him to serve in various senior leadership positions with Chicago-based AbbVie, a biopharmaceutical company. During those same years, he has also been leading and inspiring those around him to apply faith in practical ways to their everyday lives, no matter where they are planted.
Doug’s passion for encouraging and leading others propelled him through a season when he wondered where God’s call might lead. He thought about pursuing missions or becoming a minister or educator. While attending graduate school at Regent University in Virginia, he said that everything began coming together. On the heels of receiving his Masters in Divinity and a Master of Arts in Business Management, Doug was commissioned as a Reserve Chaplain for the United States Army. Those combined experiences led Doug to found Centurion’s Watch (CW), a nonprofit organization that focuses on strengthening military families.
On the CW website (www.centurionswatch.org) Doug shares his personal experiences from serving in Iraq: “For the first time, I experienced the enormous strains of combat and later how deployment had impacted my life and that of my wife and children.” The site also explains, “As Doug and his family continued their healing process, he discovered that while Active Component branches had Christian faith-based ministries offering family enrichment support, the Reserve Components did not.” So Doug began CW.
Doug shared that CW helps build strong military families by:
• Creating dynamic and inspirational content that offers a biblical perspective on topics and issues relevant to military families
• Coordinating compassionate care through efforts like the Adopt-a-Vet program that connects people with military families who are struggling and in need of prayer, help with a practical need, or mentoring
• Connecting military families to authentic communities, locally or online
The plan is for CW to launch a new website this month to help military families connect with each other in order to share ideas, find encouragement, and ask questions. CW will also organize local events where military families can come together and have fun, learn, and be encouraged.
Perspective and Priorities
One might wonder how Doug balances his career, leading Centurion’s Watch, serving in the military, and staying connected to his wife, Ally, and their four young children. Doug responded without pause. “I can’t effectively lead if I’m not devoted to my family. First and foremost, my priorities are faith and then family. I also take advantage of down time and early mornings. I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV. And I have a very compassionate, caring wife.”
Doug can identify with those struggling with their work. “I believe the reason many people struggle is they don’t believe in the mission of what they do. You must believe your work matters to God. Maximize where you are. Bloom where you’re planted. God will make it clear if he’s calling you to something else, and he will confirm it through his Word and others.”
This concept was made clear to him several years ago through Larry, a bus driver. Doug had returned on a late-night flight and was heading to pick up his car in the long-term parking lot. It was cold, and Doug admits he wasn’t looking for any conversations on the shuttle ride through the lot.
“Larry greeted me with a smile, welcomed me, and said, ‘Glad you’re here.’ He took my luggage, placed it carefully on the shelf, and did the same for every person on that bus. I felt welcomed and appreciated. He greeted everyone with a joyous heart. As we exited, he smiled and encouraged us to ‘Please come back and have safe travels home.’ It was 11:30 at night and everyone was smiling. It could have been a boring, mundane ride with everyone checking their cell phones, but Larry transformed it into something special.”
Doug encourages others from what he has seen in his own life experiences. He said you have to prove you are faithful with whatever resource or talent you have been given by God. “God wants to use people where he has gifted them. And sometimes, he has to prepare us first before moving to the next step.”
Jamie Shafer is the communications director at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.