Monday, April 2, 2012

Over rated or not

  I think it needs to be added to the short list: pregnancy, owning a business and church planting. If you happen to be unfamiliar with the connection, is goes something like, “There’s nothing as over rated as pregnancy or owning your own business.” What a disparate list! Obviously, I can’t fully appreciate the first physically, only vicariously, but I do get the general idea and understand the connection. Someone once said that “distance lends enchantment to the view,” meaning that time/distance skew reality. Down the road we can talk about how wonderful an event or time in our life was only because we are no longer living it (much like “the good ole days”). Almost two decades removed from planting, indulge me in one of those moments.
  We can string them together. It is the highest form of what is known as “proof texting”, that citing of biblical passages that support our previously drawn conclusion. It doesn’t automatically neuter the truth of the passage (although it can), rather it can make it sound easier and better than it really is. Take for example Paul’s, “and my God shall supply all of your needs” and couple it with Jesus’, “seek and you shall find” and you end up with an Aladdin’s biblical lamp to every challenge. Admittedly, at times, it does look that easy, hence the over rating.
  The property that our church owns is a small 4.04 acre parcel of commercial real estate, developed in the era of the strip shopping center, c. 1960. While the church utilizes the majority of the space, we still have three paying tenants. My office is located in one of the former suites. The furniture that serves me is an old desk, chair and matching credenza. I keep it because of the story it tells.
  As a church growth pastor, prior to being a church planting pastor, I understood the value of sufficient space for growth. When we began in 1993 in rented space, I immediately began looking for space # 2. When we relocated after two years I began looking for space # 3, etc. It was while we were in space # 2 that I contacted a local property owner, Mr. Ward, about renting some of his space. When I told him the purpose, the conversation ended, abruptly. After two years, we moved to space # 3, eventually ending up at the local high school. Having always had our own space, we now needed somewhere to house our offices. It just so happens that the high school was located next to Mr. Wards shopping center which had an unoccupied suite.
  Believing that “God can change the heart of a king” led me to contact the listing agent. As it turns out, Mr. Ward was in poor health and his wife, Ellen, was now managing the business and agreed to rent us the space. In time, the largest suite in the building became vacant and we were able to negotiate the rental of it with Ellen, including a contingency that should they sell the property, we would have the right of first refusal. While we were doing the build out, Mr. Ward died. Within a matter of weeks Ellen called me stating that she we selling their house and had all of his office furniture to dispose of which she was willing to give to me. Was I interested? Duh! Within a matter of months she called me stating that she was going to sell the property. Was I interested? Duh!
  Fast forward. I now sit at a desk situated in an office located on a piece of property that the owner would not even talk with me about in 1996. Does God have a sense of humor, or what? The furniture was free and the property is worth twice as much as we paid for it, but the story? Priceless. Is there a moral? At least a couple. First: “Distance lends enchantment to the view” because it now sounds soooooo easy. Second: Pregnancy, business ownership and church planting aren’t necessarily easy but well worth the adventure, over rated or not.