Archives For October 2013

Have you ever seen someone who has achieved a certain success in their job and thought “how did they do it?”

If you hear that they did it alone, then you obviously don’t know all of the story.

Twenty years ago a very amusing movie released called Dave (1993) starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. In the story, Kevin Kline plays Dave Kovic who runs a temp agency. What is amusing is that he looks very similar to the current President of the United States, President Mitchell. On the side, Dave Kovic is hired to impersonate the President and in a bizarre turn of events is called into help in more ways than just impersonating the President. I won’t ruin the movie because it is a joy to watch.

Kevin-Kline-Dave-Kovic

Despite this being a movie with politics as a backdrop, it is really a movie about people helping people. In the movie once Dave Kovic eventually is acting as the President, shares with the American people,

“If you’ve ever seen the look on somebody’s face the day they finally get a job, I’ve had some experience with this, they look like they could fly. And its not about the paycheck, it’s about respect, it’s about looking in the mirror and knowing that you’ve done something valuable with your day. And if one person could start to feel this way, and then another person, and then another person, soon all these other problems may not seem so impossible. You don’t really know how much you can do until you, stand up and decide to try.”

Dave was trying to help others find jobs so they could live passionate and fruitful lives. A job doesn’t solve every problem and it doesn’t guarantee you will find your full purpose. A job can help give someone the opportunity to have passion, purpose and the ability to better themselves to make a difference.

Dave wasn’t just a job-placement owner.

What matters is that Dave Kovic was a connector.

I am only where I am because of the help of other people. Period. Did I work hard and was persistent to meet with people? Of course but doors would not have opened to me if I had not been helped by courageous people who took a chance on me. Here are a few of the many examples from my own personal journey:

  • My high school friend Kara recommended me for a position that ended up being my first job in marketing and sales in the film industry. I wouldn’t even have gotten the chance to interview if it weren’t for her. This also helped fuel my love for movies and great storytelling.
  • When I moved to Nashville, my sister’s childhood friend’s brother, whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years, introduced me to a publisher and led me in the door to my first job in publishing.
  • I am at my current position because of working hard but if I weren’t recommended by mutual friends, it would have been difficult to get to the next stage.

None of the people who helped me got anything in return except being able to see me thrive in those positions. They simply enjoyed seeing me be in a place to thrive.

I have learned from many others along the way.

One of my friends who inspires me greatly is John Bergquist. You need to know John because he lives for helping others do amazing things.

What I have realized is that as a connector, my success will be measured by the successes of others.

Marketing thought leader Seth Godin wrote in his book Linchpin

“Not only must you be an artist, must you be generous, and must you be able to see where you can help but you must also be aware. Aware of where your skills are welcomed.”

The Bible also has a lot to say about helping others. In Philippians 2:4, Paul encourages the early Christ-followers;

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

To summarize, here are three ways to be an effective connector:

  1. Be aware of those around you who may need help and make yourself available to them. You may be igniting a fire in a true change-maker. 
  2. Invest time each week meeting with and helping people. 
  3. Don’t expect anything in return except the joy of seeing someone else thrive in their sweet spot making a difference.

Let’s be like Dave Kovic. The world will be better because of it.

One of my favorite scenes in comedy is a scene that takes place toward the end of the movie, Tropic Thunder (2008). This is a crucial element in the storyline when Robert Downey Jr.’s character(s) attempts to get his friend played by Ben Stiller out of a prison. Both of the characters think they are part of a movie and disguised as their characters. What they are coming to realize is that what they are facing is actually real and are trying to come to terms with it and what to do. Forgive the initial vulgarity of this short clip but I promise you will laugh.

tropicthunder

Humorous as this scene is, there is a lot of truth behind it.

This week I read an article about someone who called herself an “Orthodox Christian” because she didn’t like the other term “Evangelical Christian.” After listening to her, I found that I agreed with just about everything she said about her faith but wondered why she needed to label herself with the preface ‘Orthodox’.  I also attended a conference with a group of people who called themselves “Reformed Christians.” I was asked by some people there of what kind of Christian I am and I said something along the lines that although I am part of the Anglican denomination I am a “Young Life Christian” because it was in the group Young Life where I accepted Christ. I was unsettled about this answer for a few days.

When we turn to scripture we find that the first time a name or label was put on the followers of Christ, it was in the city of Antioch.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,  and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:25-26

I am not a bible or church scholar but from what I know, when the church grew and expanded throughout the world, divisions occurred and thus new identities. Here we are 2,000 years later and if someone asks you who you are, you could respond in one of these ways.

  • I am an Evangelical Christian
  • I am a Southern Baptist Christian
  • I am an Orthodox Christian
  • I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian
  • I am a Catholic Christian
  • I am a Reformed Christian
  • I am a Coptic Christian
  • I am an Anglican Christian
  • I am a Young Life Christian

The labels go on and on.

Almost 20 years ago when I first accepted Christ, it seemed so simple and beautiful. I felt a humility and honor to call myself a Christian and by his grace, follow Jesus as best I could. The older I got the more complicated life became. Like Kirk Lazarus, I became a dude, playing a dude disguised as another dude. I am to blame for this because I fell for the trap and forced myself into a corner within the subculture of Christianity to put a very specific label on my faith.

Do you think someone looking in on us as Christians even cares? I am not saying that the specific beliefs or denominations are not important but put yourselves in the shoes of someone who does not know or understand who Jesus is: Our faith looks so divisive and confusing.

Have our descriptors become our titles of pride and nobility? Our idol? 

Thankfully, where our heart is, our true identity lay. Our heart that holds the promise of Christ shapes how we truly live our lives no matter what title we give it.

I am trying to not over-simplify life and this topic but what if it is meant to be that simple? Jesus asked the Apostle Peter one of life’s greatest questions,

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16

I pray that everyday I answer  like Peter in today’s language, “I am a dude who follows Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What do you call yourself? What have you learned about “identity”?