About 14 years ago, I got into insurance sales. I did it out of revenge because a guy (who will remain nameless) insured me incorrectly. I totaled a car that I owed money on—to my girlfriend’s dad, of all things! Out of spite, I got into insurance and ran him out of business. (Thank you, Jesus, for sanctification and grace!) Once I started selling insurance, I realized I had a knack for connecting with people, finding out their basic needs, and supplying them with what would serve them best. As I insured thousands of people over the years, I realized that my character and words really were important…
Since being in that industry and realizing my gifts, I have been in ministry and I have made a lot of connections, while sharing with a lot of people about the hope that I have in a personal relationship with God, through knowing His only son, Jesus. My hope is not just in that He existed, but that He physically died in my place (and yours) for my sins (and yours), and 3 days later, He physically rose from the dead, proving that He is who he claimed to be—God with skin, walking amongst His creation.
My main job as a minister of the Gospel, or evangelist/pastor/missionary, is to make much of Jesus. Make much of Him with my example and with my words. Now, for the record, I fail often in both areas, but I know that I am in process, and have not and will not “arrive” in this life. Following Jesus is not about us being perfect, but about pursuing Him.
God has allowed me to know a lot of people over the years: through high school, college, my 20’s while in insurance, and in ministry. Since I am now a father of 4 and am in my 30’s, I have built connections in all different areas of life. From my favorite baristas at Peet’s Coffee, to people I randomly met on a plane that I have stayed in contact with... to friends I knew in kindergarten and have some type of connection with due to social media.
Just about every week, I get an email, message, or phone call from someone who has decided to get into some type of business that requires a lot of connections—which are the life blood of the success of their new endeavor. I get a message asking if I would be interested in meeting with them some time soon to discuss a “new and exciting” opportunity that they would like to share. The claim is usually that if I become part of their enterprise, I could be provided with the financial stability to allow for me to spend more time with my kids and work less.
When I did insurance sales, I had very similar messages being sent to me. But guess what? To build a business that could/would provide the flexibility to be more available for things I wanted to do didn’t come easy, and it took a lot of hours working really hard. The messages I’m referring to are generally a “get rich quick pyramid scheme” that often, in theory, would forgo the working hard part. Rarely will something be successful and lucrative without a lot of work and sacrifice. However, what is most frustrating for me is the amount of “random” messages I get from people going through the "newest and most exciting opportunity the world has ever known.” I become annoyed that they want me to come in on the ground floor so I can help them (and myself) get rich quick.
Ultimately, Jesus’ pyramid scheme was not for people to have a “better life” in this world, but a content one (a life lived through purpose). His “scheme” was to grab a few “c-lister” men and pour His life into them over a few years, and teach them what He knew. He replicated Himself through the sacrifice of time, energy, and compassion. These 12 men (really 11 and a few others) turned the world upside down with the message of the Gospel (the message that you could be reconciled to God by trusting what Jesus did for you). Those disciples (disciplined pupils who were replications of their teacher) replicated themselves, and now you have the opportunity to know and be known by God because of that replication process.
I am grateful for Jesus’ pyramid scheme, and am not offended that this world attempts to do the same thing in business. But, unlike the Gospel, this world will have to constantly “reinvent itself” over and over. Jesus’ way of replicating Himself will always work, led by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the gates of Hell will not stand against it.
What I have learned is this: Your own hard work will always trump you attempting to get on someone else’s pyramid. I will always work hard to make much of Jesus as long as God gives me breath… and if I am not, call me out on it—please! Because Jesus deserves our effort, our allegiance, and our example to confirm that we, as Christians, actually live what we believe.
If you are interested in learning how to engage the world around you, we recommend that you sign up for one of our upcoming Compelled trainings: http://www.iamcompelled.org/training-events/