For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)
God is continually breaking me of this. Unfortunately it took a crashing economy to get me there...
Running my own businesses has been one of the greatest lessons of my life, but I also think it was/is a source of pride for me. The Living Word saw immense growth over the first couple years. We were the fastest growing bookstore in the state (2005); while Christian Retailing Stores were tanking all over the state, we were growing at an incredible pace. I can remember talking on the phone with a bookstore owner in Georgia who literally broke down in tears asking me how I was growing while his store was filing for bankruptcy. 24 months later, the economy has tanked in South Florida, and we too are grappling with the question of why. My happiness was built into my success... and when the success went away, so did the happiness.
It's been hard. I won't lie. "God, why did you bring me to this point just to take it away." Other problems arose. Other insecurities dug in. And instead of focusing on the greatness of God I focused solely on my despair. That's the thing about pride. The more you have, the harder the downtimes become.
I don't want to make myself out to have all the answers. I get emails from readers all over the country asking my advice on business, media, church, etc.
* I'm not a businessman (I failed my only biz class - microeconomics - in college).
* I'm not a church media genius (I can give you names of 100 people better qualified than me, check my blogroll for starters...)
* I'm not a pastor. I'm not the expert on God. If you're looking for a model of Christianity, please don't look here. If you want to see someone struggling to understand what God is, have lunch with me sometime.
I started to look at myself through the lens of these imperfections, I discovered who I really was. The successes that I had been given were not by my hand, but were given by God. I am a tool, offering my life for Him to control. God, thank you for the blessings you've given...
"Sober judgment" allowed me to see things clearly. So if He was faithful to this end, then why wouldn't He be faithful to get me through these down times... Looking at myself, I see that through the faults then God was in control, and through the faults now God is still in control. And if I live my life in faith that He will control, He will control...
If my successes are mine, then my failures are mine as well.
If my successes are of God, then my failures are His as well, and I can sleep a lot better at night knowing that my God is dealing with the situation at hand.
God, help my faith to see You not only in the successes, but also in my failures. Thank You for using me to the betterment of your kingdom.
Side note: after reading this, you may get the impression the Bookstore or C28 Florida is doing horribly. We are down for the year (as is everyone else in the state, except for oil companies) but God is blessing us with slight growth, and we are prayerful that a steady summer will lead to a strong Fall. Pray for my bizes, that God would use these resources to become a foothold in the cities of South Florida.