Many thanks to you all for your ongoing patience with me and the blog – I am finally feeling better, and I believe I am mostly caught up, although I still have lots of great posts of yours to read! I have missed you all, and look forward to catching up on your lives as well. 🧡
For today’s gratitude post, I wanted to pause and offer a word of thanks for the dreams and burdens that the Lord lays on our hearts – even when those around us do not understand what they are.
Without going into too much detail, I found myself in a meeting regarding the community service initiative that I am trying to create. While I am not naturally a business-minded person, I thought it would be wise for me to sit down with a couple of people who are experts in this field, to better understand what my next steps should be (if any).
To me, this venture is an extension of ministry, and doesn’t necessarily need be formalized in some way. So I approached the meeting with a clarity of resolve and purpose, even if I wasn’t sure what my next step was supposed to be. Imagine my surprise when I ended up getting lectured by the advisors, informing me that I needed to focus on the mechanics of building a business (value proposition, market research, competitive analysis, marketing strategy, etc.). I’m not saying that these things are wrong in and of themselves — far from it – but I realized in that moment that we were looking at the same situation through two very different lenses.
My “value proposition” is to help people. It had not even occurred to me to think about competitors. If we’re all trying to help those in need, why focus on competition?
No, much of the conversation was about establishing and maintaining my competitive advantage, and making sure that I am a step ahead of my competitors (and my customers, too).
My head was spinning in a way. When did I suddenly start to have competitors and customers? When I simply said that I wished to put on some free community workshops through my local library, they looked at me in a confused way. They told me that even if I were functioning as a nonprofit, I still had to have revenue and a customer base.
I was a little confused, as I don’t necessarily believe this to be the case. The way God has shown me to move forward with this idea actually has no costs at all. So if I don’t have any fixed costs, and the people coming to my sessions (who would be at the library anyway) don’t have to pay anything either, why worry about what the alleged competition is doing?
(Or, as the saying goes, if you are a hammer, then everything around you start to look like a nail.)
If God wants to turn this into a more substantial business venture, then I trust He will show me what my next step is. For now, I will continue my research, and get involved with a couple of other nonprofits in the area that are already active in this field. What I want to create is a bit different than what they’re doing, but at least I can do something while I await further guidance.
The meeting wasn’t a loss, as I did gain some insight about next steps that are actionable. But the most important thing I realized is that not everyone is equipped to receive and support our dreams in the ways we would like. Some people are only able to speak to you through the lens of their own experience, and if what you bring to the table is different than that, then it’s easier for them to downplay what you are trying to accomplosh (rather than trying to understand what you wish to accomplish).
I left the meeting with mixed feelings, and sat with these emotions for the balance of the day. By the next day, I was resolved that I was still going to pursue this venture and would succeed – I just would do it the way God wants me to do it. His approach may involve some of the traditional methods that the mentors recommended, or it may not. Either way, I look forward to seeing how the Lord works in the situation — when this venture succeeds, I look forward to reconnecting with the business mentors to see if their opinion of my methods (or rather, the Lord’s) has changed at all.
Then I came across these verses in the book of Hosea today, and realized how much they fit the situation I have been experiencing. It’s amazing to me how the very thing that leads to growth and maturity in some can also serve as a stumbling block for others — especially those who think too highly of themselves (or their methods).
The way I see it, this idea came from the Lord, so He is the One duty-bound to carry it though — and I am excited to see what He does next. ✝️