Sunday, June 10, 2007

Job versus Work IV

I don’t know if this is a fair comparison or not, but ministry always felt a little like a position in sales for me. There is a Product (The Gospel) that must sell. Depending on the Company, there may also be regular quotas to meet. There are monthly performance reports to fill out, and when a group of your Salesmen colleagues get together, there might be a compulsion to tell a story or two about the latest deal you closed. You might even be inclined to stretch the truth a little, just to fit in. Forgive the crude association, but that was the nagging sense I always carried with me. I was raised in a Sales oriented culture, where those stories were highly valued. My leaders were Salesmen extraordinaire, at least back in their day. They had legendary tales of people just showing up to buy the Product. It was in their mind that people were dying to hear about the Product, and it was your job to tell them about it and register the transaction for the good of the Company. To them it was as easy as taking candy from a baby. So there I was, young new Salesman, trying desperately to fit into my Sales culture, and I couldn’t make a Sale. Everyone, I was told, was a potential customer, so whether or not I got on a plane or a ski lift or stood in a long line at the DMV, I was trained to think sell, sell, sell. Try as I may, I just couldn’t do it. I never once made a Sale. It’s ironic that I am now again in a position of sales. I am selling food. And once our restaurant opens, I will be selling ambience and a place to sit and enjoy it. But the contrast of the two could not be starker. No one ever wanted the previous Product. It didn’t matter that I believed in it. I could never convince someone else that they needed it. On the other hand, with my food, I now have people asking me about it. I get phone calls, emails, questions from people I don’t even know, wondering when our store will be open. It’s an incredible feeling, to be sought out like that. To have a product that basically sells itself is just short of amazing. This is why I say I’m working again. I finally quit my job of selling the Product and have started doing new work. Its work I feel good at, and good about. Its work that doesn’t feel like work. It’s just a whole lot of fun. The hardest part is that I had to walk away and disappoint a lot of people to get here. I fear being seen as the one who turned his back on the Product because he was ashamed of it, and now he is running a bar. A word of advice to those swimming against the current; learn to listen to the Wind. Its voice is your most imperative to hear. There will be countless ones in your head who sound like people you know, and theirs will undoubtedly be the loudest. I never know when the Wind will speak, but I find it’s usually when the air is the most still. It’s then I can hear the message that I think is all any of us really want to hear, “Well done.”

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