Be like Brad

Sections of this topic

    I don’t mean Brad Pitt or Brad Paisley. I mean Brad Berntson.

    You don’t know him and I barely do. But after hearing from loved ones recently at his funeral he is a man whose character we could all learn from and aspire to. Despite suddenly passing at 51, he lived a life of true service. One of Brad’s younger brother’s shared a tribute to him that was about how to be like him. It was both funny and touching. This is my own rendition from an outsider’s point of view (I was there because his wife is in a women’s bible study with me). It’s made me think how I could be of better service to those I’ve been blessed to know. Because little acts of love done over 5, 51 or 105 years create lasting ripple effects.

    Public service

    He served his country in the army as a ranger and was recently a deputy. Those public servants like Brad who are called to give of themselves in this way help so many people whom he will never know. His dedication to protect our country and those in his county will never be known to what extent his service mattered. We all have the opportunity to serve the public around us, whether it’s to choose a similar path as Brad or to serve the public with friendly compliments when you are out and about. I will be like Brad by encouraging my family and I to do public service by picking up garbage around our neighborhood this spring. How about you?

    Humble service

    During his funeral service the priest, Fr. Jon Vander Ploeg, who presided over the mass, said how Brad was the opposite of what our “narcissistic” culture often teaches us to be. He was a man who didn’t want it to be all about him and thus the priest’s homily reflected that. It was message of love, truth and service that we can all aspire to. And when we are humble in our service of and for others that is when can touch the most hearts. I will be like Brad by reminding myself to do whatever it takes to make the person whom I’m serving (not me) happy. How about you?

    Service to his family

    It’s obvious that Brad’s family mattered most to him. The past two years that I’ve been in a small group with his wife, Julie, I could sense their loving connection in how she would share stories of their relationship. They have two sons who will carry on his legacy along with his two granddaughters. When his three brothers spoke during the luncheon after the service I was deeply moved. This brotherly bond that these brothers shared is what I plan on fostering in my three sons because family is forever. I will be like Brad by teaching my sons how to be best friends growing up so they will be so when they are grown up. How about you?

    Service to God

    It sounded like sometime during his adult life he had a conversion that changed and transformed his life. One of his brothers mentioned that Brad would do things in extremes and his faith was the same. Once he embraced his love of the lord, there was no stopping him. He served God many ways one being his active involvement at church. Just a few months prior to his passing, Brad and Julie hosted a retreat together. While they didn’t get to go on their second honeymoon planned for this summer, they were blessed to serve together and share their love of God with others. And I’m sure it was an extremely transformational experience for those who attended like it was for him many years later. I will be like Brad by sharing my love of God and serving Him in whatever ways I’m called to. How about you?

    May Brad rest in peace knowing that his acts of love will endure forever through all the lives he’s touched.


    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.


    Janae Bower is an inspirational speaker, award-winning author and training consultant. She founded Finding IT, a company that specializes in personal and professional development getting to the heart of what matters most. She started Project GratOtude, a movement to increase gratitude in people’s lives.