In Their Own Words: Interviews With Our Officer Nominees

Jay Rudinger (nominee for elder) grew up in the Houston area and attended Windwood Presbyterian Church as a child, later serving in leadership as a trustee. He and his wife Jami both graduated from Texas A&M. Jay works as an associate in the law firm West, Webb, Allbritton & Gentry in College Station. He and Jami have two sons, Chance and Cortland. From his experiences in his career and the church, Jay’s compassionate leadership has emerged as a spiritual gift. 

I grew up in the church and had a lot of head knowledge about the Bible and could recite to you some Scriptures and quote you anything but for a long time it never really sank down into my heart. I got off to college, stopped attending church up here, would go back to my home church and would attend for a while, and I had a pretty good “Monday through Saturday Jay”, but it didn’t fit very good with the “Sunday Jay”. I ended up going to church and got Jami to go to church. Her life changed, and I was shocked at how much effect it had on her and why it hadn’t had an effect on me yet. I tried to keep managing my own life – I like to call my own shots and be my own boss – but that doesn’t really work when you’re going to put your life in Christ. We kept going through the motions – I would be at church on Sundays, I taught Sunday school classes, I did the whole nine yards — I was calling the shots, I was at law school, I was working way too much in Houston and not having enough time for family life, working with folks that were going to bars every night, or the client would go to an adult entertainment establishment, things that didn’t really mesh with what I was hearing on Sundays. I had to make a decision. After doing that for a couple years I hit a crossroads in life, where I bottomed out. It was a rock bottom of “I don’t know where to turn.” I met a friend of ours who was a counselor at a Baptist church — talked to her. Called my boss and said “I won’t be in for four days.” Went and talked to her for a couple days, hit my knees, and truly accepted Christ into my heart. All that brain knowledge finally dropped down and it was amazing how it all fit together. This is so much easier, when I don’t have to try to manage and control everything, life becomes so much more manageable and controllable. That was really an epiphany for me. It coincided with us having kids and life changes that I would never have been able to handle without having that realization of what my life was meant to be. If you had asked me from day one, I would have told you I was always a Christian, I just didn’t know what that meant until just after college and into law school. The 15 inches from your brain to your heart is the hardest thing as a Christian.
Westminster is only the second church I have ever attended. I was baptized in Windwood Presbyterian, which was a PCUSA now an EPC church down in Houston. My grandparents were charter member there, my parents were married in the church, and that was our family’s church. I served two three-year terms as trustee in the church. We were involved in some litigation with the PCUSA so that we could leave the denomination with our church property to continue functioning as a church in the EPC. Having been at the church as long as I was, it made for a nice easy transition to be one of the trustees as an inside voice of what we were doing. 
I’ve come to the terms with the fact that I think I have the spiritual gift of leadership. The Lord has always put me in positions where I’m in leadership roles in churches, in workplace, in general life where I’m put in the position to be a leader. That’s helped to hone my skills as well as point me to the fact that it’s something that I’m good at doing. I also have OCD in organization – I like to have things in place, plans in place. I set the concrete now, set your good foundation so that you can move forward administratively and organizationally. I also think I have a compassionate heart — which is shocking from a lawyer — but I can read folks, I can see situations that need to have help, and step into that. If somebody’s got a problem I’m going to try to help you solve it one way or another. I can relate even if it’s something that hasn’t happened to me, I’m able to see where they’re at and see what kind of steps need to be taken to help them, get where they need to get either spiritually or financially or emotionally. When I went to law school, I envisioned helping. What I’m getting to do now is exactly what I thought and dreamed I’d get to do coming out of law school.