Have you ever started something?
I mean from the ground up, started something.
Like a company, club, organization, team, or creative endeavor.
In every start up story there seems to be several different reactions to the initial idea.
For instance, when someone writes a song, they eventually present that creative work to someone else. When that person hears it, the feedback begins. In that moment the creator is extremely vulnerable. Sometimes the work is no good, has a glimpse of brilliance, or is just ok. But people react to that creative work through their own lens, their own preference, and their own taste. It’s subjective.
At the beginning of my senior year of high school I went to see my guidance counselor. A guidance counselor is the person who helps you plan out the right classes so you have the best chances of accomplishing your dreams. This man gave me feedback I didn’t like.
He asked, “So, what are your plans? Where are you applying for college?”
I said, “I’m applying to Pepperdine University.”
With a chuckle he said, “Ok, but really, where are you applying?”
I said, “Pepperdine.”
Without hesitation he said, “That’s great. But you won’t get in. I mean, your family has to build a stadium at a place like that in order to get in with your GPA. So, you need backups. I recommend Fresno City.”
“You’ll see.” I thought to myself.
We’ve all been there. Shared a dream, a work, an idea and it was immediately met with criticism.
As I was reading my bible this morning in John 11, I noticed one of the many times Jesus encountered such a moment. Jesus’ friend Lazarus was very sick. Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, came to see Jesus and asked him to come heal him. Jesus waited to go. A few days later, in fact. Jesus took his time and he was going to have to travel to a hostile area. Meaning, the people in those parts had already tried to stone him, kill him, before. So his disciples, the guys who were right there with him, all the time were a little distressed at the thought of going back into this hostile region. Jesus tells his guys that Lazarus is dead and they’re about to head back to see him.
Thomas says something here that I think we can all relate to:
Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16
My reaction to that would probably be, “I’m sorry… whaaaaaaa? Thomas, dude, you are killing me with your dedicated defeatist attitude.”
I think in every start up endeavor, or creative process you’ve got at least three camps of people who help you or follow your crazy dream.
- Your friends and family who believe in you
- People you didn’t know previously who believe in your vision
- Your friends and family who don’t believe in you or your vision, but feel obligated to go along with it
I don’t know about you, but I see these different groups around me all the time. As we ventured out to start this church plant I could plainly see all three groups of people. After one of our more successful events someone who has become part of our team, who shall remain nameless, walked in and said, “You don’t need me. Look at this.” Now there’s a couple ways to read this. Let me help you interpret this.
“You don’t need me [anymore because I’ve been in this to help you out until it either thrived or died, but I never really believed in it]. Look at this [but I think you’re going to be okay here without me].”
I find it interesting that in the story about Lazarus Jesus, knowing full well, where Thomas’ heart and belief was didn’t let that derail anything. He didn’t ask him to stop following, he kept inviting him to come along. Isn’t that crazy? Thomas doubted along the way, yet Jesus kept him around, defeatist attitude and all. Why? Because Jesus had a vision that was further into the future than Thomas could ever see. Jesus knew something about his mission, that Thomas would never fully grasp. Jesus remained focused despite the crazy amounts of criticism because he had a vision and he stayed the course.
So, my questions for you are: Do you have a vision for your ___________? Do you see what could and should be 2, 3, 5, 10, 30 years down the road? If so, don’t let the critics stop you or derail you. If so, you have a responsibility to see it through.
I have a vision of what could and should be and it’s huge. It’s bigger than I care to reveal at this time. So I press on with Thomas and everyone else who opts into the vision of creating a church that unchurched people would love to attend, all for the purpose of accomplishing our mission, which is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering. Pepperdine is the only school I applied to. I spent a summer in Heidelberg, Germany with Pepperdine. After four years I added an extra year to stay close to Erica and added a minor for the fun of it. I had three years on a full-ride and it was the experience of a lifetime. I’m a Driver. I don’t quit.
And if you have a vision, you shouldn’t quit either.