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.