Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Putting It All Together – Part 5 The Hills of Sparta

Putting your dream out there is a lot like leaving a baby exposed on the hillsides of ancient Sparta. If the child is fortunate some compassionate soul will come and save it from impending doom, if not it simply dies of exposure.

Unfortunately, many times dreams do die of exposure, and we wonder why we did not just keep them to ourselves. It was easier before we told everyone what we hoped to achieve, before they started telling us why we should not try doing something so audacious as teach people about God, or think that we are something special. We begin to doubt the wisdom of revealing this fragile piece of ourselves to the world, and we decide to stick to something less daring, less painful.

In the last entry, I talked about the team of people who have invested in this dream called Pagus, and I know that some of you are wondering how we managed to get so much help, why our dream wasn’t rejected or allowed to die of exposure. There are two reasons –

The first is we worked our fannies off for years before we asked people to take part in this. We demonstrated that we were willing to put in the time, effort, money, and energy to make it happen way before we ever approached another person to help. As I said before, I went to school and Nathan went to work with a church plant in Norman, and it was not quick or easy. We did not take short cuts in establishing our identity as people who were dedicated to pursuing our dreams. We actively demonstrated that we believed in the dreams God entrusted to us, we valued this vision, and were willing to make the hard choices to make the dream a reality.

When we discovered that we needed a tool or skill we did not possess, one of us learned how to do it. Nathan who had no prior experience designing a website, asked for some help from our uncle and learned as they put it together. When we need fliers, I read design and advertising books to find out how to create an eye catching mailing. We networked like crazy, calling people we had not seen in years, mere acquaintances, and even accosting strangers. We found that our years in retail sales jobs had prepared us to talk to anyone at anytime about this thing called Pagus.

People saw how hard we worked and were intrigued with our passion. We began to get little bits of encouragement that turned into full on curiosity, and finally became “Hey, what can I do to help?”

As each new piece fell into place we would get more and more excited. And the more excited we became the more we talked about it. I think I told five total strangers the day I opened our Pagus checking account – We have a debit card that says Pagus! Really, I did not announce my daughters’ births with such glee, and when we got the first run of fliers. . .rarely in my life have I experienced such bliss. Years of work and sacrifice were beginning to reveal their purpose. It was amazing! It still is, and when you are this thrilled about anything, people tend to listen. They want something to be excited about, and there are not enough real things for people to get excited over.

People wanted to be a part, and out of the goodness of our hearts we let them. And we had something, and someone else to be excited about. So we began to talk more to more people, and . . .

The second thing is we were very intentional from the very beginning that we wanted everyone’s experience with Pagus to positive. Not just for those who attend a Pagus event or those who work with Pagus, everyone. This means if we go to a restaurant and we pay for a dinner on the Pagus account – the servers should be tipped well. When we have an event, we want all the coordinators from that venue to be happy to work with us. We want them to want us to come back.

We want people to know that we are different from other groups they may have worked with in the past, and as we have both worked in service industries we realize that many times the easiest way to separate yourself from the crowd is to show some courtesy. I know it sounds way too simple, but it is the truth. Smile at the sales person, talk to the clerk like they are person, offer to wait when there is a rush, and voila, you are an instant celebrity.

I feel the need to clarify one point. We did not make this decision to manipulative. We made it as people who have been that server in the restaurant, the barista in the coffee shop, or the clerk at the store, and too often the rudest people we dealt with were angry Christians. We made this decision to remind ourselves that we never wanted to be like that. We wanted to be who the Bible declares we should be, it is amazing how well it works.

When you couple enthusiasm with some grace people are thrilled to be a part of what you are doing. In world where Christians are so easily identified by what they are against or angry about people are dying for chance to be a part of something meaningful , a part of something that is for a greater cause. And when you are chasing a God given dream these things should be defining elements of our lives.

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