Thursday, April 8, 2010

How I Was Reminded to Get Out of the Way

Harry Truman once said “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Yesterday, that was the theme of a great lunchtime meeting with a minor tweak to the quote:

It is amazing what God can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

I shared earlier this week that “sometimes it seems that you pour all your time, energy and heart into a project or task only to see little movement towards your goals. Other times, all you did was get out of bed and big things started happening.”

I argued that one of the keys to arriving in the “sweet spot of faith” was to make sure you first seek guidance from God in community with other followers of Christ. As Americans firmly entrenched in the prevalent ideology of self-reliance, we tend to overlook the community part. It’s easy for us to miss how early Christians—and by early I mean pre-Enlightenment Christians—would have had very little notion of self. All activity was seen in relation to community. Individual actions were weighed by their impact on the community. And if people tried to accomplish something they saw it as the community trying to achieve it.

Today, 200 years removed from this dominate way of thinking and firmly located in the American ethos of individualism, we see accomplishments as personal in nature especially in the first-half of life.

But somewhere around middle age, I think it’s a common experience to run into the proverbial wall where our forward progress in life and work is thwarted by limitations on time and our own individual talents. Believe it or not, there are people out there who are more talented in certain things then we are. We need others around us with different gifts and abilities to reach goals bigger than ourselves. And we shouldn’t be concerned who gets the credit.

Over the last two years, I have convened what I call Faithventure Focus Events on a periodic basis. These lunchtime gatherings are a group brainstorming session for entrepreneurial followers of Christ. Together, we explore ways to create employment opportunities for disadvantaged communities through business as mission. Usually, I pick a date a month out, send out an invite, and then hit the phone to find 10 people.

Yesterday, a Faithventure Focus Event happened by accident. A few days ago, Stan Jacobsen, a passionate follower of Christ with a heart for ex-offenders and for networking people of different talents, mentioned that he had recently met some men. These guys shared a common interest in helping ex-prisoners transition into the community. He thought it would be helpful to gather everyone together over lunch. (Stan is also a carpenter who has been helping us develop our cabinet-making training business for ex-offenders.)

So, yesterday, we did just that. And about 15 minutes into our time together, it dawned on me that this was the best Faithventure Focus Event ever. Three of the men were in the process of starting businesses to hire ex-offenders. And these were real businesses in fantastically ripe areas of opportunity. Two of them had done time in prison where their life was changed by God and now they were passionate about helping others in the same circumstances. It was awesome to see God in action.

I’m excited to watch these faith ventures develop. And I’m looking forward to our monthly brainstorming gatherings. We are stronger together in community. And there is no limit to what God can accomplish when we don’t care who gets the credit.

P.S. If you are interested in joining us at our next, Faithventure Focus Event on May 5, 2010, let me know.