All the Details, Not "All the Things"
You always hear that phrase: “the devil is in the details”. Now, we all know what it means. It means that if you miss the details, you're going to mess up. But I would like to counter that and say that “God is in the details.” He is INFINTELY in the details – both in nature and in our lives. If you miss those details, you do indeed mess up and miss out. I felt the need to go for a walk in our neighborhood on this day, the first official day of the COVID-19 lock down here in Georgia. I've lived here for eleven years now and never seen the spillway of our lake. I found it today on that walk, quite by “accident” (I don't believe in coincidences), hence the video in this post. It was so peaceful and beautiful, even though our world felt like it was crashing down around our heads, so to speak. Jesus always gives us “...the peace of God, which passeth all understanding...” (Phillipians 4:7), no matter what's going on around us. He took me out into the woods, just a few steps off of the main road, so I could find the detail that so many others have missed – myself included, to help me find His peace today. Just one more detail to appreciate God for. Who knew that one beautiful detail would be the inspiration for the introduction to my business partner's first blog post? I sure didn't, but God did! HE knew why He planted that seed in my heart on a day that the rest of our country was reeling. And true to God's nature, a conversation that Ethan and I have had so any times: every detail in God's plan has so many facets of truth contained in it. That spillway, put in place years before I would need it, became a source of calm in a crazy world but was also going to serve as the launch for Ethan's introduction – it's all in the details! Before you read Ethan's post, I'd like to share other details with you – details that God meant for my good, even through the pain. I've learned the hard way that life is not the pursuit of “all the things”, which most of us would probably agree with. Life and business is in the pursuit of the details... GOD'S details; His plan for our lives.
Ive been running this business for six years now, as of this May. The key word there is “I”. I'VE been the one deciding schedules, determining deadlines, hittin' the pavement and swingin' from the rafters. I thought that's what small business people were supposed to do: everything it took to get the next client in the door, serve them incredibly well, then move on to the next. I thought business people didn't get any sleep, burned their candle at both ends, served their community, served their families, worked nights and weekends, rarely took vacations, attended every single networking event and still only made ends meet. That IS what most of us do. I've spent my whole entire life movin' fast, lookin' for the next opportunity. I've busted my tail every chance I got and put my whole heart into everything I've done – including raising children in the middle of all of it. The harder you work, the more successful you'll be, right? Pull yourself up by the bootstraps? That's what I thought, too. And yet I don't have very much at all to show for that hard work. I survived but I didn't thrive and grow and multiply my “talents”, like the parable in Matthew 25 talks about. Isn't there more to having a life and having a business? I sure kept looking for it but never found the satisfaction or fulfillment I was searching for. What's more, I never even understood WHY I couldn't find it and I was EXHAUSTED. Burnout was an understatement.
Wanna know what happened next? I crashed. HARD. I almost lost the few things I'd managed to hold on to, but even the losing, in the end, was gaining. The loss was actually His mercy. He knew how to get my attention and slow my 90-mile-an-hour-butt down long enough for Him to teach me something. He loved me enough to force me to get a job where I had to (literally) be chained (ok, really I was WIRED) to a 3”x4” space for forty or more hours a week, with a little time on my hands while I was there. He used that precious time to show me hard things about myself. Hard things that we never really want to take a look at, like just how much pride I had built up around the fact that “I” ran my business. “I” built it up. “I” made things happen. “I” knew people. “I” made the money. “I” did the design... and the list goes on. You get the point. “I” finally realized that “I” needed to sit down, shut up and start letting Jesus really call the shots in my business.
Wanna hear somethin' else crazy? I grew up as a pastor's kid, I've been a Sunday School teacher and served in so many aspects of church life and ministry throughout my entire life. “I” knew how to let the Lord direct my path in my personal life and with other people – though there were mistakes, of course. “I” knew to listen to Him concerning those relationships, those moments, those conversations and He always had a right word at the right time. “I” KNEW His voice. So why had “I” failed to let Him direct the business part of my life too? I was stunned by that realization. I was absolutley FLOORED. Then I was so deeply hurt that I had disappointed the Lord of creation and hurt Him so much, for so long, in such a prideful way. I wept for days. I don't even know how many days. Honestly, it took me a month or two to get to the point where I could hold my head up without feeling like the most horrible person on the planet; like I had absolutely no right to call Jesus my Savior or even darken His door with a prayer of forgiveness, much less a request. Thank God for His love, grace and mercy: It's the only way I could move past that point. And thank God for being able to allow Him to forgive me and allowing ME to forgive me, too. (So many people have a hard time with that. I will admit, for the first time in my life, it was hard for me too!)
But Jesus Christ is so incredible! Not only did He give me tough love when I needed it, but He did it at just the right moment. I had felt an urgency to humble myself and learn. Just when I thought that God and I were ready to continue with “business as usual” (pun intended) and that I could leave the job that left me so empty, He kept me chained, (ahem: wired) to my desk job. I was confused, I thought it was time to go! But a week later, God put another person in my path - I thought - to minister to. I thought to myself “Wow, God, you sure are moving me right along! I'm sure glad I learned so well and so quick!” (Yes, please, read dripping sarcasm in those two sentences! You can even laugh with an eyeroll if ya want, it's ok. Yeah, I learned the hard way that pride, once it grows in you, puts its roots into so many other deep parts of you too.) Little did I know that, roughly a year and a half later, that person was going to become an integral part of life, business and part of even more lessons that God had (and continues to have) for us both! And part of the amazingness is that he and I both have learned some of the same kinds of hard lessons, but in different ways. We have the same desire in our hearts to do life differently, putting God first in business and everywhere else too. God NEVER puts people in your life without a reason. What I thought was going to be a normal “minister to this person, then that person moves out of my life” situation – the kind that has happened off and on my whole life - has turned into the most amazing testimony, on his part AND mine! You'll meet Ethan Harper in his first blog post – it's the next one on our site. Ethan and I hope to share our lessons and stories, in the middle of teaching marketing and branding, with you, because ALL of these “teachable moments” are intertwined. Jesus truly IS in every detail! This particular post isn't so much about marketing - obviously you know that now - as it is the beginning of an eye-opening, incredible journey that we know God wants us to share with all of you. The marketing and branding will come in perfect timing, as does everything else God puts His hand in.
So I'll leave you with all of these details today, because they make a great segue for Ethan's blogging debut. Here's to praying for you - our readers and clients - that you always remain humble and that you always put Christ first in all of your own details – be they business, personal, emotional, spiritual, financial, relational or otherwise – because He is “...the way, the truth and the life...” (St. John 14:6).