Thursday, October 15, 2009

Elevator Speech

During a meeting in my office yesterday, the phone rang. Usually I would ignore it in favor of the people that were sitting in my office, but I was surprised by the name of a colleague on the caller id, so I picked it up.

As it turns out, it was a group of people using another person's phone. One of them told me that they were all chatting about me and "the different personas that [I] have gone through since I have been with the firm." It was a light-hearted conversation about the fact that I wore a black cowboy hat every day for about a year (I really liked that hat, but eventually Tracy gave me an honest assessment of it), that I used to ride a motorcycle (though I never rode it to the office and, unfortunately, did not ride it very often), that I recently have shaved off my facial hair, etc.

At the end of the conversation, one person asked, "What persona are you going for now?"

I didn't know what to say. I attribute it partially to the fact that there were still people in my office listening to half of the conversation and I felt like I needed to get off of the phone. But I also attribute it to the fact that I did not have a ready answer to that question. That second point bothers me. The question is a perfect invitation to talk about what is important to me. To persuade. To direct.

In business, this is similar to the elevator speech. The idea is that you get on an elevator with someone and they ask you something like "What do you do?" You then have thirty seconds, or less, to clearly articulate who you are and how your services or products may help the other person. It is not exactly a sales pitch - that will take you more than thirty seconds. It is just enough to convey the primary points and, hopefully, get you into a situation where the person asks for more information.

I'm not saying that I have the best business elevator speech in the world, but I had never even thought of a personal elevator speech before. What is the thirty second answer to the question? In my prayers almost every day I include a request that God help me to be a living example of a Christian man. To show people, through my words and my actions, what a relationship with Christ means and has done for me. To honor that relationship in the way that I live, and to let that be obvious to others. Yet, when asked "What persona are you going for now?" I didn't know how to answer the question.

I know that I quoted this passage here only a month ago (a different translation), but the whole idea of shifting personas has really drawn me back to this passage:

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."

Romans 12:1-2 (Message).

So what is my personal elevator speech? I honestly don't have it all figured out. I am going to be working on it. But after spending some time thinking about it, I know that shifting personas is about culture - fitting in (or consciously not fitting in, particularly in the case of the cowboy hat). My real persona is about being fixed on God and letting Him change me and direct my life. So, like I said, I'm working on my personal elevator speech. The next time that the opportunity presents itself like that, I want to be prepared with an honest answer so that I don't miss that ministry moment.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Better Vision

I want to be clear about this from the start - this topic deserves a much better post than I am probably capable of writing right now. Still, though, I find myself sitting in front of my computer now, so here I am.

Last night I had the privilege of attending the release party for the cd Better Vision ( It is a two disc set of Christian music. The first disc is original music by members of Christ Church, my church home. The second disc is original music by other area Christian musicians. The whole event was fantastic - dancing, singing and praising.

The concert involved at least 20 different musicians (I am sure it was more than that, but I cannot really picture them all in my mind right now) who played for two hours. There also was all of the tech crew and support - photographers, videographers, set-up, etc. There were people who were taking care of the technology needed to allow the whole thing to be broadcast on the internet.

In short, it was a major production. People were running and and off stage; in and out; moving instruments; and performing. I can't really estimate crowd size, but it seemed like the worship center was pretty full.

As I mentioned above, this was all to celebrate the release of the Better Vision cd. I read today that they sold over 200 copies of the cd in the first day.

While I may have enjoyed myself, I probably would not be writing about it here except that there is something else that is extraordinary about it. The musicians are not making one cent off of the sales of the cd. Instead, 100% of the proceeds are going to support an organization that is very near and dear to my heart - Hope Africa Ministries, Inc. ( All of the production costs were covered by the musicians themselves and donations.

When some of us talked about forming a non-profit here in the states to partner with our friends in Kenya to help them with their God-given vision for work in Sakwa, we dreamed of partnering with churches and businesses and individuals to raise the necessary funds to move towards the goal. But, this project kind of came out of nowhere. We were contacted by Brian Greene, one of the musicians and the executive producer for the project, and told that the musicians working on the cd really felt called to do something even more then just spreading the Word through their music. They wanted to do that, but they also wanted to use their gifts to directly support Hope Africa. Other than asking for some photos, the logo, and some basic information, they did it all. The incredible music, the inspired copy and the powerful design and layout.

So, while I sat (and stood) and enjoyed myself last night, I was humbled. I was humbled by the work of this group of people. I was humbled by their selfless use of their gifts. I was humbled by the presence of God in the project and in the room. I have never doubted the call that I feel to be a servant of God in and for Sakwa. But last night was a reminder that God can pull people and talents and gifts and energy and excitement from different areas and use them together to serve His purpose.

Sometimes I think I have a good idea of how this whole project in Kenya should turn out. Sometimes I really feel like I have the long range vision. But last night I was reminded, once again, that my vision is not important. I was reminded that it is God's vision that matters. A much, much, much Better Vision.