Awesome People at Work: Give God Seven Days

A good friend named Chris is not going to like this post.  He never sings his own praises (ever) and isn’t a huge fan of it when other people do.  Well, get over it Chris.  As is often the case with awesome people, Chris doesn’t understand how he inspires people.  He’s just being Chris.  What’s the big deal?  Today’s post is a great example of how he does it, without even realizing it.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with Chris about an event he was organizing through our church.  Bridge Communities is a great organization that literally takes people from the street, transitions them through a two year program to get them on their feet, and prepares them to get back into the working world.  Literally eliminating homelessness one family at a time, usually single moms with young kids.  They do amazing things.

Every year Bridge Communities holds events at churches throughout Chicagoland called “Sleep Out Saturday Night.”  People sign up to sleep outside in boxes, in their cars, or in tents.  Basically live for one night the same way the homeless live every day.  It’s also a fundraiser.  Chris was in charge of the event at our church and he was worried.  Our church had only twelve sign-ups and almost no donations with just a week to go.  Things were not looking good.

He had already done everything right.  He put the word out to all the right places.  He went way over the top getting celebrity endorsements for the event.  He had a team of absolute rock stars helping him.  It just wasn’t coming together.  He was frustrated, and he was worried.  How do you pour this much of yourself into something and see so little in return?  What was wrong here?  Over the next week, he would do his best to keep up the pace and promote the event, but there really wasn’t a lot he could do to affect the outcome at this point.

I didn’t have the chance to talk to him the entire week.  But he was in my thoughts and I was hoping things would turn around.  I wanted to be a good friend, and I had even prepared the “You did the best you could” speech that I would deliver at the event when I got a moment to talk to him.  I prepared that pep talk because I assumed God wouldn’t show up.  You would think I’d have learned my lesson having spent time around Chris.  See, he always assumes God will show up.

On the night of the event, Chris gathers everyone around to get things underway.  I’m looking around and it seems like there are alot of people here.  Definitely more than a dozen.  So these must be volunteers.  How depressing: More volunteers than actual participants.  I’m wondering how Chris is going to handle this.  He’s a very positive guy so I’m sure he has figured out a way to spin this and keep spirits high.  He starts with a touch of good news.  Bridge Communities overall had set a record for the number of attendees and the amount raised.  2013 overall was a huge success.

“Well played,” I thought.  Focus on the positive.  Our numbers are bad, so just stick to the overall numbers which were good.  Announcing our local lackluster numbers would have just brought down the mood.  I assumed Chris was in full spin mode.  I assumed wrong.  We didn’t come up short.  We didn’t even keep pace with prior years.  With a beaming smile, Chris reported that our church set a record for number of attendees and a record for fundraising.  Seven days.  Just seven days earlier I had breakfast with Chris and we talked about this potentially being the worst event in our church history with Bridge.  Seven days later this same man is announcing that we’re breaking records.

Chris, of course, gets it right.  I have a chance to talk to him later that evening and he says, “God can do a lot in seven days.”  He certainly can.

Chris’s faith over those seven days was a great reminder that the greatness really comes from God.  God uses people as his hands and feet to accomplish these amazing things.  But it is ultimately God at work.  In our drive to make a difference in the world, it is good to be reminded that, no matter what we accomplish, we are still fully dependent upon God to make it happen.

Thank you Chris for being a mentor.  Thanks for being the kind of guy who brings life into so many people around you while literally having no idea that you are doing so.  You once gave me a mission.  You told me, “Go be awesome.”  Well I’m here to say that it’s nice to have someone teaching me how to do that.

We were built to be heroes.

It’s about time we started acting like heroes.

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15 thoughts on “Awesome People at Work: Give God Seven Days

  1. Shoes Summerfield says:

    This is a wonderful post; and I’m glad that “Chris” got a change to reply. It’s good to see the supportiveness of good friends. Kudo’s is never a bad thing, it’s actually very motivating! Thank you for writing. And yes, I believe God can do a lot in 7 days…He created everything in six and took another day to admire it’s beauty!

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  2. okay… soooo I guess there are no rules against using last names in blog posts! LOL
    Now that you’ve forced me out of my shadow “James”, I have no choice but to reply.

    I want to thank you for giving me the heads up, allowing me a week to prepare for your post. You are correct… I’m not a fan of personal praise and I’ll get over it THIS time only. LOL. Note though.., I’m a HUGE fan of praising God for using each of us as the hands/feet of Jesus Christ. . True… I prefer to work in the background, give credit to those who(m) are deserving, lift those who need lifting, encourage those who need encouraging, pray over those who need prayer (which is all of us), inspire those who need inspiration, motivate those who need motivating, love those who need love, hug those in need of a hug… and the list goes on… but ONLY by the Grace of God, there go I. It’s what we are called to do… DREAM BIG, TAKE RISKS, GIVE SACRIFICIALLY. My favorite scripture comes from Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT) “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” I try to live my life in this manner… and if the worst thing someone can say about me is that he never takes credit for the great things that happen in and around his world… then I am A-Okay with that !

    As far as Sleep Out Saturday and Bridge Communities… It was an AMAZING turnout… and like you said, Jim… with 7 days to go, it was all turned around. God did AMAZING things with AMAZING people… turning 12 people into 60 people… and a thousand dollars into 13K! Upon sharing my concern about the numbers, I was quickly reminded that Jesus started with 12 disciples. So I hit my knees and lifted up the entire event… focusing on the “mission” instead of the “numbers”… and God did the rest! I was blessed to work along side folks like Jim Rediehs, who was MONUMENTAL in bringing in support from the likes of the BlackHawks Organization and musicians Deana Carter and The Reese Dailey band. Heather Hildebrandt did an AWESOME job in gathering and organizing the many volunteers needed to make this event a smashing success. Several mens/womens groups at our church stepped up to run the soup kitchen and serve bkfst the next morning at 6am. Long-time best friend, Robert Axtolis pulled together our security team and organized traffic flow. David Chacon of Dominion Martial Arts Institute of Mentorship (https://www.facebook.com/DominionGrind180) and his “band of brothers” sacrificed their night (ENTIRE NIGHT) watching over our ‘flocks’ while we slept, exposed, in the parking lot… protecting us from potential dangers. I mean… these guys literally stayed awake… huddled around a fire pit for warmth from 8pm Saturday until 7am Sunday in 20 Degree temperatures !!! Thank you (Jim) for bringing your friends to help us ! We also had the support of 3 of our pastors who also braved the elements that night and in the morning had to serve our congregation of 4K+ !! Talk about dedication to the Kingdom ! We are truly blessed to have all of this around us… or if you want to re-frame… we are truly blessed to b placed smack dab in the middle of this amazing community !

    God’s thumbprint was/is ALL over this… from before it was even a thought in our heads! You, personally Jim, have been and continue to to amazing work now that you are LISTENING to and acting upon His call for you. I am incredibly proud of you for following this calling. Right now your words are reaching “some”… tomorrow you’ll be reaching “MANY”! … with so MANY more to go! You have been on an incredible journey and I’m thrilled to be in your passenger seat as you continue to “be awesome”! I am truly enjoying your blogs my brother… and anxiously look forward to your future divine articulations. May God continue to richly bless you & your family !
    Much Love from your brother in Christ !
    Chris “xxxxxxxx”

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    • Heather Hildebrandt says:

      Being fortunate to serve in student ministries I’m always telling my students to be ready to be the vessel to just show up and see what exciting things God is doing. Serving on the SOS team was definitely one of those times… As always I was very humbled by His call and even more humbled to serve Him.

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