"You should be in sales"

I just got off the phone with a sweet lady whose name I was given by a friend of a friend and told she would have a heart for ministry, and would be encouraged to hear what we do with Campus Crusade here in Western NC. I have had a hard time connecting with her, left a series of messages, and then when I do get in touch with her, two things are clear. First, she is a very busy lady, and has a lot on her plate. Second, she seems to have a real heart for the Lord and is very nice.

<aside>I go to great lengths when calling folks to try and set up appointments to not be the guy that is just a slick salesman telemarketer trying to con my way into getting people on the hook by the end of the call. That’s not my heart at all. I am not selling them anything. I am offering what I believe to be a great way to invest their time, energy, prayers, and finances. I really believe what I am doing to be a calling, not just a job, and I believe that just as God has called me to share the gospel on college campuses, he has called others to support me, my wife, and my child while I go about doing that. Furthermore, I believe he has called me to join him in developing that team of financial and prayerful partners, by making phone calls, setting up appointments, sharing joyfully what he is doing, and asking boldly for people to join with me.

I tried to communicate all of that (in two minutes) to this sweet lady, and what I heard happening (despite my best efforts) was her feeling pressured. She said that she was not able to help financially, and I responded (very truthfully) that one of the main reason I meet with people is not the finances, it’s the partnership. I want people praying, aware of what God is doing, and excited about it. I also don’t know enough people in the area that have a heart for the Lord, and have spent the past week calling the same 10 people each night. So another reason to meet is to allow her and her husband to introduce me to others in their sphere of influence who I might call and invite to join us in reaching college students for Christ. When I said that, she said she’d love to meet, would love to hear what we are doing, but are just slammed with many things, ranging from planning a wedding for a daughter to running a business, and that I should “call back after we get her married off.”

I totally understood, communicated that, and asked if August or September would be a good time to contact her. She laughed and said “I don’t know Ben, but you should be in sales!”

I didn’t take that as a compliment. I was trying, in fact, to communicate exactly the opposite message from that of a salesman. A salesman is worried about the sale. I was far more concerned in the conversation with hearing her, and all of the craziness in her world, and wanted to figure out when I could call back and not be a bother, but instead be a blessing. So I asked for a specific date to call back. She seemed bothered by that.

Instead of clearly communicating what I did in the last paragraph, I stammered something about getting in touch with her in the fall, and hung up the phone.

I share all of this to provide some context for those of you who have never raised a significant amount of financial support. I am not just about people writing me a fat check. (Though fat checks, made out to Campus Crusade, and mailed to me are never frowned upon) I am about giving people a chance to worship God with their wallets. Do I think I am the only missionary worth giving to? Absolutely not. Do I think that I am somehow entitled to people not confusing me with a telemarketer? Nope. But I am human, and doing something of far more worth than telemarketing.

So, even though I might be a good salesman, please don’t suggest it as a career path when I call.   I’d be a terrible salesman.  The reason I am so persistent in my current profession is because I really believe in it.  My career is evangelism, or trusting God to do the impossible, in bringing his enemies into the family, and giving them a new heart. I need people to support me in my current career, I don’t need a new one.