Character Counts, But So Does Skill: A Lesson in Humbleness

I learned a hard, and embarrassing, lesson last week. I’ve been unemployed for over six months and I desperately need a job. I am now in the “ANY job is a good job” mode. I was happy when I got a letter from Comcast saying they wanted me to interview for an installer position I had applied for. Not the most glamorous job in the world, but the pay was better than unemployment, good benefits, and lots of opportunity for advancement. The only foreseeable issue was that there was a manual math test. I am not good at math. Maybe you didn’t catch the “under” in that understatement. I am NOT good at math. I decided to pursue it anyway. I thought that I could gloss over the lack of math skills and wow them with people skills, presentableness, and convince them despite that one shortcoming I was the best man they could put on their front lines.

The letter, and subsequent emails, I got before the interview were VERY clear about their minimum requirements regarding driving records, criminal background, and even the dress code for the interview, which they said was “professional”. I decided that I would go ahead and suit up, even though this was more of a “blue collar” position. I figured it would help with the image I was trying to give of being “a cut above”. When I got there, of the 10 other people in the room, only one had a tie (no jacket), others had golf shirts, a couple of dress shirts with no ties, and one person in jeans and a ball cap. I thought to myself, “I have SO got this!”.

As we moved through the process, everyone had to double-check their applications to make sure they were correct, and sign the normal barrage of paperwork about background checks, etc. Although there was no doubt about the background requirements, several people still thought they were the exception and asked things like, “My license has been suspended before. Does that count?”. (the letter, emails, and paperwork in front of us CLEARLY said NO suspended licenses. Ever.). I was starting to feel pretty good as the candidate pool dwindled right before my eyes on these character issues. I even told myself how LUCKY they would be to have someone like me on their staff.

Then came the math test. Like I said before, I assumed I could take the test, move on to the interview stage, and talk my way out of it. No chance. The test was computerized, and when I was finished they called me over and said I didn’t meet the minimum standards. I was summarily dismissed just like the others with background issues. I was lumped into the same category as “cap and jeans” guy (who had left earlier because of his background). I had sat in judgement of all these other people because they knew the minimum requirements before showing up but thought they were the exception, yet I had done the same thing! I knew math was a part of it. I knew I wouldn’t pass the test. Yet, in my arrogance, I went anyway wasting a lot of my, and their, time.

I took three things away from this experience:

First, never stop practicing—especially with the things you aren’t good at. Even if you struggle with something, the worst thing you can do is perform the bare minimum to get by, and then forget all you learn (like I did with math in school). I’ve done that with other things, too. I took classical guitar lessons for a few years in high school, played some in college and as a young adult, but haven’t played much since. I can still strum along, but can no longer make the beautiful music I did 20-25 years ago.

Second, never discount the value of a well-rounded education (whether it’s in school or in life). When kids say, “Why do I have to learn this! I’ll never use it in real life!”, feel free to share this story. You just never know when you might need it. Always be learning, and once you’ve learned it, go back to point number one.

Finally, pride goes before a fall. Man, was I arrogant. In hindsight, it isn’t the end of the world that I didn’t get this job, but what if it had been my dream job? I have a lot to offer any company. I know that. And part of the interview process is convincing them of that, but the moment I think I’m above anyone else, I’ve already lost! Balancing character, skill, and humbleness is an art-form that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

I believe this quote from C.S. Lewis sums up my experience nicely:

Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature—while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Social Networking/Social Media are HUGE buzzwords right now. Let me just say right up front – I am NOT a social media expert. I have social media knowledge, I have opinions on social media, and I use social media. That’s about it. There are plenty of social media experts out there, and they are MUCH better at it than I am. There are still many who resist social media like people resisted computers for the longest time. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, social media is here to stay and if you have any kind of brand, product, or business (and you all do, wether you know it or not) you need to decide what you are going to do about it. Something happened to me today that made think about it all over again.


First, some background. I block my Twitter updates. I don’t like the spam, and I really don’t want complete strangers following me. That’s probably a good reason why I’m not a social media expert. I just prefer to interact with people I know, or have a solid connection with. That being said, I do follow people I don’t know personally, but I am connected to in some way. Thomas Nelson authors and (now former) co-workers for example. I’ve only met Shelia Walsh a couple of times in passing, and she wouldn’t have any idea who I was, but I enjoy following her because of the Thomas Nelson connection. Since my Twitter account is blocked, anyone that wants to follow me has to request it and I have to approve the request. Recently, I was sent follow requests from two people that ARE social media experts and are sort of Twitter celebrities here in the Franklin area. I’m still not sure how I got the privilege of getting follow requests from them, but I assume it was through my other Nelson connections (whom they are connected to). Needless to say I was flattered, but I’ll be honest – I don’t know these guys AT ALL. Because of their reputations, and the many mutual friends, I accepted the requests and started following them as well, but that was about it. Never looked at their blogs, read about them, or anything. Then…

This morning, I was catching up on Tweets and saw an exchange between a former Nelson co-worker and one of these new followers. They were talking about the Christian band Big Tent Revival. “Hey”, I thought to myself, “I know Steve Wiggins from BTR, I’ll let them know he’s on Twitter!”. (To be fair, I know Steve’s wife, Misti, better than I know Steve, but yes I know Steve in real life) So, I jumped right in and let both of them know. Minutes later, my new “friend” informed me that he was IN the band BTR. Talk about embarrassment! I quickly sent a message to him letting him know I felt like a dork for not knowing. To make it worse, just a cursory glance at his bio and it would have told me he’s a co-founder of BTR, and to say he knows Steve WAY better than I do wouldn’t even qualify as an understatement. Grrr! It solidified why I don’t follow strangers and don’t interact online with people I don’t know. But then I thought that there was a bigger lesson to be learned here, which brings me to the point of this long story (sorry)…

I’m out there! Yes, I was embarrassed. If I ever meet Spence Smith in person (to whom I will give another HUGE apology), I will be embarrassed all over again. But, regardless of that, I’m out there engaging and interacting. That’s what social media is all about – connecting and conversing. Spence, an influential and well-connected guy, now knows who I am (albeit I’m “that idiot”). It would never have happened if I hadn’t been out there experimenting and taken the risk to say something!

So, again, what are you doing about social media? What connections have you made? How have you expanded your network today? How have you promoted your brand (either your personal brand, or your companies’ brand)? You will never do any of those things online if you aren’t doing ANYthing…

A Brand New Day

This is a carry-over from This was a “family” blog that we used to keep family up to date with what was going on with us. Occasionally, I would use it to rant. Since most of our family is on Facebook, and we keep up that way, we haven’t touched the blog in over a year. I always felt guilty about using the family blog to write my personal stuff, so I started this one just for me.

Always Wintertime

I have kept some of my previous posts, and I’m working to clean up the family updates. Otherwise, this is just a landing pad for me to purge the things running around in my head. It isn’t supposed to be profound. It will never win any awards. It’s really more for me, but you are welcome to peek in and see what’s going on.


Diary of a Church Hopper – Chapter Two

Well, it’s been a while since we’ve written. We have been so busy! We have traveled as a family, I have traveled for work, Melinda worked some over the summer, and with our kids on this crazy school schedule, they have actually been in school for over a week! This summer has been full of blessing, adventure, and joy. I can honestly say that it has been a GREAT few months!

Last we wrote, we were looking for a new church. While we haven’t found “the one”, we have been blessed to see several different types of churches and hear some exceptional teaching. I’ll take just a few lines to describe a couple…

As we alluded to before, worship is a big sticking point for us when it comes to church. We aren’t die hard classicists in that we have to have a magic formula of choir, piano, and organ, but we do like a good balance. We have never been fond of the “rock ‘n roll” scene on Sunday morning that dominates so many churches these days. For example, we went to one church that had great music from a quality standpoint, but their worship experience left a lot to be desired. We just don’t like going into a dark auditorium with multi-colored lights on the stage where the focus is on a single person and participation seems optional. In other words, you feel you are at a concert to be entertained not to worship collectively. The contrast was the teaching at this church was amazing. Still we couldn’t reconcile the two.

We went to another church where they decided to eliminate the discussion altogether and didn’t have any accompaniment with their worship – just voices. While I like a good a ccapella song now and again, that was on the other side of the extreme for us.

Then we attended another church where we had one of the best worship experiences we’ve had in a long time. It was refreshing to hear something so contemporary in style, but conservative in execution. We definitely want to go back there, but we have at least one more church on the list to visit.

The great thing through this adventure is that we are being fed every time we go. All of the messages we have heard have been solid and appropriate. It has been proof that God’s Word is living and powerful. We love sitting under good teaching and learning how to live a more faithful life for our Savior.

I would like to clarify one thing – the title of these posts. I used the term “church hopper” as a semi-indictment to the process we are going through. I do not advocate church-hopping, and firmly believe that we need to establish ourselves in a local body so that we can minister and be ministered to. Our desire is to find a grace-based, God-centric group of believers that have the desire to accept us for who we are (flaws and all), and very importantly have the ability to care for Anna so that we are free to experience church in a way we haven’t been able to for a long while.

I will let Melinda write more on some of the other things that have happened this summer. We are at a great time in our lives and we love being together as a family and seeing what is around the corner as a family. As we enter into another season of school and work after our summer break we have so much to be thankful for and can’t wait to share more here!

Diary of a Church Hopper – Chapter One

I am convinced more and more that when we get to heaven we are all going to be surprised at how wrong we were/are about this thing called “church”. With so many different interpretations how could we not have messed it up? It’s frustrating and, frankly, distracting.

Recently we made the very tough decision to leave the church we were members of for almost 5 years. There wasn’t one thing that happened to make us do it, but years of various preferences, issues, and differing philosophies added up, and the timing was right, so we cut the cord. Enough said about that.

So, here we are looking for a new church. One of the things that we challenged ourselves on was to question everything. We didn’t want to assume that anything was right simply because we had always been taught that. Anything that comes up that is different, we want to carefully examine before passing judgment.

We visited our first post-exit church this past Sunday. It was different. That didn’t make anything wrong, but it was different than what we had experienced for the last 5 years. The music was louder, the people were more animated, and it was a whole lot bigger. We were quickly faced with the very thing we were trying to avoid – automatically judging because our of preconceived notions of how church is “supposed” to be done.

We had done some research online and the one thing that we wrestling with was that this church does infant baptism. They were very quick to point out that the act of baptizing the infant doesn’t mean that the child is saved. They would still be responsible later on to come to faith and trust Jesus on their own, through the teaching and influence of their parents and their church family. However, they didn’t advocate another public baptism after the profession of faith – something completely contrary to what we have always been taught. We had to make a choice – would we hide behind our current beliefs, or would we open up and explore that their might be other interpretations of Scripture that weren’t necessarily wrong?

For the most part, we enjoyed the service although it was harder to open our minds than we thought it would be. We aren’t sure if we will go back, but I will tell you this – it has nothing to do with the infant baptism. As long as they aren’t misleading the parents into thinking that the act of baptism saves the child, I can’t really argue with the reasons why they do it. Just like I can’t argue with the fact that they have drums in their worship music. It is one interpretation among many that does nothing to dilute the message that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. That is the one undeniable fact that bonds all believers together, and that is what church is – not a building, not a constitution, and certainly not a person, but the corporate group of people called by God into a relationship with their Savior.

I look forward to writing more as we make this journey. I have no idea how long it will take, but we already have several churches lined up that we plan to visit over the coming months.

Be a Part of History

Firefox is an alternative browser to Internet Explorer. The latest updates you see in IE7 are direct results of trying to compete with features that have been in Firefox. Even still, Firefox is faster, more secure, and overall easier to customize (if you are into that). I’ve used Firefox for years now and would never go back to IE.

If you want to have some fun, and help Mozilla (Firefox’s creator) to break a world record, click on the badge to the left. They are trying to break the software download record in a 24-hour period when they release Firefox 3.0.

In the meantime, you can download Firefox 2 from the link above, or if you are a little more adventurous, you can preview Firefox 3 here.

We Did It!!!!

We were way too tired last night to create a slide show, but here is a quick pic to prove we actually did it!

We will have the full story, and more pictures, up soon!

Here We Go!

Sorry for the late notice, but we wanted to let you know that you can follow us throughout the race at the Country Music Marathon website. Just click on the Live Results section, enter in our names and it will update you as we pass certain mile markers.

We woke up to rain and thunder this morning, but we are hoping it passes soon. We are bringing our camera and as long as it stops raining, we hope to have pictures up this afternoon!

Pre-race Jitters

The half marathon is 6 days away.  We got our Thomas Nelson team shirts, got some good shoes, have a sitter all lined up, and we will pick up our numbers and timing chips Thursday night.  We are excited and little nervous.  We are excited about being there and having the experience, but nervous at the 13.1 miles and the fact that we never did our long walk (10 miles).  Based on our training history, we think we will be just fine, but it will definitely challenge us (which, I guess, is the point). The goal this week is to do some moderate walking every day to stay loose and do a LOT of stretching!

Here is a link to all the course information, in case you are curious.  Supposedly, the day of the race, you will be able to track our progress online and see where we are at certain mileage markers.  Since we are walking those stats won’t update quickly, but it may be fun to check in on us!  I don’t have all the info on how that works yet, but I’ll add another post as soon as I get it. We have to be downtown around 5 am, and based on our starting position, probably won’t even start until around 8 am.  Assuming we finish in four hours, we will be done around noon. We plan to hang out at the Thomas Nelson tent for a little while and then go home – hopefully with completion medals in hand!  If anyone around Nashville would like to cheer us on in person, there is information about all the places you can do that here.  We would love to see you!

Pray for us this week, and on Saturday.  Pray that we have energy to sustain us through the course, that we would finish injury free, that we will be able to move on Sunday(!), and most importantly that we would have a whole lot of fun!