Thank You, Microsoft

March 31, 2012

Each April 1st for the past five years, I have been honored to receive an email from Microsoft informing me I have been recognized as a SQL Server MVP. Tomorrow will be different. Back in January – when I wrote this – I requested Microsoft not consider me for renewal.

I have enjoyed serving as a Microsoft MVP. I only got to see what it is like to be a SQL Server MVP, and I think we are part of a special community that makes being an MVP even more special. I have read the thoughts of others departing the MVP program. Many are not happy. I believe the MVP program could be better but I know the SQL Server MVP program is pretty cool.

“If it’s so cool, Andy, why are you leaving?” That is an excellent question.

The simple answer is: priorities.


The less simple answer may bore or offend you – especially if you prefer to not read about matters of faith. So I am warning you now: a lot of what follows is about faith. If this offends you and yet you find yourself wanting to learn more, skip this section and read Community and Technology below.

Having made that last statement, I feel compelled to state that being an MVP is not an impediment to faith. It is not a sin or diversion any more than anything else can be a sin or diversion, and I know plenty of MVPs who are people of faith; Christian and other faiths.

God spoke to my heart from Luke 9:23: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” This is me wanting to be Christ’s disciple; denying myself, taking up His cross, and following Him. I am not “blaming God” for this decision. To the contrary: My experience as an MVP has reinforced my belief that a small number of individuals, working together, can make a measurable impact on a community.

If you have read this far you are either curious or bored, or perhaps compelled. So be it. Years ago, I participated in a Bible study entitled Experiencing God based on the book by Henry Blackaby of the same title. In it, Mr. Blackaby asserts “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.” I believe God has been speaking to me through these means, to these ends.

For a while now, some friends and I have been meeting semi-regularly to pray and study the Bible. We are geographically distant so we meet online. We don’t broadcast this fact but many folks know about it because we also don’t hide it. Last year we began a study called Masterlife. It is a powerful guide to learning more about the Christ, the Bible, the church, the world, and our role in relating to all of them.

As we continue to study, we are all growing spiritually. As we grow, we are noticing new and different stuff. Although I will not speak for the other guys, I am sure they will agree when I say God is using this study to change stuff in our hearts, minds, and lives. One person recommended a book they had read called Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. I have to admit the title put me off some, but the recommendation was positive so I purchased the e-book.

I didn’t read it.

It sat on my Kindle for months. I read a bunch of other stuff. Some sci-fi series, a couple business books, some awesome Seth Godin works. Finally, I started reading it. This is a hard book to read. It is not anti-America, it is pro-Christ. I believe the book did a good job separating stuff that is part of America’s culture from the Christian faith. I found some of the book painful to read. I identified with parts of it in ways I did not expect; positively and negatively. And this shifted my priorities.

Some of the priority shift has already made it into this electronic journal. Some remains to be seen.

Looking back, I see alignment in some stuff that has happened to me over the past few years. I believe God used circumstances to challenge my priorities. Although I do not have it all figured out at the moment, I now know I should be doing other things with some of my time. You may wonder what those things may be. So do I. As I write this, I have very little idea. I simply know I have to re-organize my current priorities to make way for the new set. I am praying, reading the Bible, paying attention at church, and observing the circumstances to learn more. If you are so inclined, I would appreciate your prayers.

Community and Technology

I have no plans to change my community activities. I plan to continue presenting at conferences and SQL-Community events (if they will have me). I plan to remain engaged with technology as I have the past 37 years. But you will know (if you did not skip over the preceding section) that “my plans” are less and less my own.

An Interesting Side-Effect

One thing shocked me over the past few months of re-prioritizing: I began enjoying technology more. I did not realize some of my joy had been sapped, but it had. It must have happened slowly over time because I did not notice it until it began to reverse.

Thank You, Microsoft

I would like to sincerely thank Microsoft for recognizing me with the MVP award. It was a career- and life-changing experience. I got to hang out with some of the smartest people in our field. I learned a lot and grew as an individual and a technologist. Although I never felt I deserved the award (and secretly suspected they lowered the standard to allow my participation), I was honored Microsoft did.

I am excited about what is next.


7 Responses to Thank You, Microsoft

  1. March 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Bravo, sir! You have described the creative life. If you are certain where you are going, you are trapped in an illusion. If you are certain you must go somewhere other than where you are and figure out your destination by taking the journey, you are alive in this moment.


  2. Nitin
    March 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    What’s in a award?

    No matter you are a MVP or not, you’ll always be looked up to for your work.

    I still remember learning about Ssis through your articles at several years ago

    Hope to attend your class in person, some day

  3. Mike Walsh
    March 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I remember when I first met you in person at a SQL server user group in Boston. You told us we talked funny. We had a great conversation and you had me amped up on SQL community more than I ever had been. I was blogging then but not much and thinking about speaking and getting out there more. You inspired that.

    Then I sat in your user group leader to be session at PASS and you directly inspired me to commit to start the sea coast SQL users group. You even told me I should be an MVP a couple times and I suspect you nominated me once or twice. You were definitely an inspiration to means many others and you’ve set the bar and example of what an MVP should be and what community passion looks like.

    I’ll miss interacting with you as MVP Andy but I’m blessed to get to interact with you as business partner Andy, Brother Andy in that Bible study you mention and, most importantly, as friend Andy.

    Even your decision and rationale here and leading up to it has been an example and I am excited to see where Christ takes you next, Andy.

    Thanks for inspiring me in the giving back front, but thanks for inspiring me even more as a father, husband and disciple.

  4. Devin Knight
    April 3, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Good Post brother! I’ve been meaning to read Radical for a while now. Sounds like I should stop coming up with excuses on why not to!

  5. Ashley
    April 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for being so sensitive and obedient to the Spirit and call upon your life. And for such boldness. I am also a Christian and a SQL DBA in Atlanta. I attended Brian Kelley’s 1st session at SQL Saturday also. It has been so encouraging to here about yours and Brian’s faith journey. Especially from others in the IT field. Congratulations on your accomplishments and will be praying for you!

  6. Chris
    May 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    >>Although I do not have it all figured out at the moment, I now know I should be doing other things with some of my time. You may wonder what those things may be. So do I. As I write this, I have very little idea. I simply know I have to re-organize my current priorities to make way for the new set.

    I commend you for taking the time and effort to re-examine your priorities, Andy–and for having the humility to re-arrange them! More of us should do this on a regular basis.

    Whatever you decide to do, please don’t forget to take to heart Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 7:13-23 (especially his warning at verses 21-23) and the portion of the prayer he offered to his father recorded at John 17:1-3.

    Best wishes to you!

  7. July 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm


    Congratualtions on your new “awarement” As I have experienced many of us who we are driven to love and provide for our families can get caught up in creating a “Perception” of ourselves to achieve greater income, normaly thru titles or recognition by our peers, and this can compete with our family time, due the “perception” it has higher priority.

    My own transformation was s few years back when Tessie and I faced death and through the grace of God move past it.

    Perception is Perception “Awareness is Reality”

    Actually I have included some of Platos writings in my exploration also.

    If I might suggest I have also studied some of the The Gospel of Mary is found in the Berlin Gnostic Codex, and find them helpful.

    excerpt – - – -
    8) And she began to speak to them these words: I, she said, I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision. He answered and said to me,

    9) Blessed are you that you did not waver at the sight of Me. For where the mind is there is the treasure.
    10) I said to Him, Lord, how does he who sees the vision see it, through the soul or through the spirit?

    11) The Savior answered and said, He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind that is between the two that is what sees the vision and it is [...]

    “Awarement” is the established form of awareness. Once one has accomplished their sense of awareness they have come to terms with awarement.

    Tessie and Ira , lucky to have met you.

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