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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is an author and engineer who enjoys building and automating data integration solutions. Andy is co-host of the Data Driven podcast. Andy is no longer updating this blog. His current blog is

OT: Thank You, Microsoft

cross-posted from

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.


Published Saturday, March 31, 2012 10:36 AM by andyleonard

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Rob Farley said:

I'm excited too. It's much better to be where God wants you - that's when he can make you properly effective.

See you soon, I'm sure.

March 31, 2012 5:14 PM

Peter Schott said:

Great post, Andy. I can identify with trying to read "Radical". I've gotten through one chapter and it is definitely a challenging read so I find it hard to keep reading. :-/  I remember trying to explain a career move for less money to a different company to people who couldn't understand that. It was a calling to do something different and it definitely was where I needed to be. Of course, I'll likely never be in the "consider me for an MVP" position - I know at this time even if I were somehow considered, I couldn't give it the time it deserves. :)

Definitely lifting you and your team up in prayer. You've got an interesting business going. I mentioned it to some coworkers and they were really interested in the idea of going in, doing the job, equipping the customer, and moving on.

Thanks for the encouraging post. I hope that you keep getting that sense of direction on where you're supposed to be and that you hear it clearly the first time.

March 31, 2012 5:36 PM

andyleonard said:

Rob, that is so true.

Peter, Radical is worth reading. I struggled through more than half the book. This song off the latest Casting Crowns (Jesus, Friend of Sinners - resonated with the message of the Holy Spirit. I wrote the post a couple months back. Since then, I know the first steps. One of them is a mission to Honduras in early June. Thank you for the prayers! I will pray for you as you continue to read Radical.


March 31, 2012 9:17 PM

Reza Rad said:

I impressed with what I read in your post, I feel that I need to re-prioritize too.

By the way, I don't miss you because I will see you in your speakings hopefully :)



April 2, 2012 4:32 AM

Brandon Leach said:

Sounds like you've thought this out pretty well, it could not have been an easy decision to make.  Every year or so I try to think about goals and priorities.  Often I realize that I have to make sacrifices to get where I truly want to be.    

MVPs have always been the visible leaders of the SQL Community.  However, one does not require  the award be a leader in the SQL community.  Anyone who gets involved in something positive, for the community, is a leader in my opinion.

I'm sure you'll come out happier and more fulfilled by this decision.

April 2, 2012 9:55 AM

Thom said:

Andy - I think many people lose out by seperating their faith from their work. We develop competing priorities that produce stress instead of synergies that create enthusiasm. Thank you for your honesty here and I hope your path is filled with great things!

April 2, 2012 10:44 AM

Vishal pawar said:

Keep writing this type post !! Truly said great post !!!

April 2, 2012 1:40 PM

Adam Machanic said:

Vishal: Just a friendly reminder that this is a technical blog site. Please feel free to check out for more of Andy's work on this and similar topics. Stick around here for more of Andy's work that relates to BI and the software industry in general :-)



April 2, 2012 5:51 PM

Angel Abundez said:

What a great post Andy. I'll be praying for you and look forward to hearing how God works in your life.

April 2, 2012 6:40 PM

Marty Scherr said:

That's awesome Andy.  Glad to see that God is helping you determine what is really important.

April 3, 2012 10:05 AM

Hilary Cotter said:

April 6, 2012 9:45 AM

andyleonard said:

Outstanding, Hilary. Thank you, brother.

Thanks to everyone for your encouragement. It means a lot to me.


April 6, 2012 1:06 PM

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