A fellow blogger wrote about the time she realized she was not “all that and a bag of chips.” I started to tell the following story in a comment, but then decided to write it out here.
The “Comma Club” Day$
Back in 1998 I was at the top of my game. My career was doing very well, and money was not hard to come by. As a matter of fact, I was the 8th highest producer in a nation-wide company.
In ’97 I started something called the “Comma Club.” This “club” consisted of all the salespeople that had a comma in their paycheck each week. In other words, after taxes, to be in the club one’s take home had to be over $1,000. I was in it every week.
Then Things Changed
Thinking I was making a good move, I took a position out-of-state. The move was supposed to make life even better, but in a few months some changes within our company and the entire industry made closing a contract much more difficult. Weeks would pass without a paycheck, much less a comma (praise God for a faithful and supportive wife!).
At one time I was a top salesman and manager, but then we needed money to even keep a roof over our heads, so I had to find extra work. I even started delivering pizza. At one point, I was working four part-time jobs just to pay the bills, which was a far cry from where I had been.
The Lowest Moment
One day, after I had been out trying to sell my wares, I drove home to our little duplex (we used to have a 2,000 sq. ft. Cape Cod in the historic district). What I did not know was that my little girls, 4 and 8, had resorted to help in their own way. As I pulled up into the driveway, they came running to meet me.
“Daddy, did you sell anything?“
“No, I didn’t.”
“Well WE DID!! Look, here’s some money!“
“Where did you get that,” I asked.
“We sold weeds.” That’s right, they sold weeds.
Katie and Haley had gone out and picked wildflowers and weeds, then went knocking on doors in our neighborhood. They made a few dollars from people who were kind enough to buy their treasures. My girls were completely thrilled. I hit rock bottom….hard.
I had been shown up by amateurs! The former top salesman had now been out-sold by Wiggles fans. What good were all the awards that I had won? What good were all the pats on the back and the 4 digit paychecks now? I had been shown that my own kids could out-provide me by selling worthless weeds!
Of course, it was sort funny, in a sad kinda way, when the teenagers at the pizza place found out. I got made fun of, for sure. The “preacher” was delivering pizza, while his kids were at home selling “weed.”
Yeah, it was funny, but my ego was completely crushed.
For God’s glory.
The one thing that I needed to learn, if nothing else, was that my pride and self-sufficiency was incompatible with a life of faith. More than that, a self-righteous life is incompatible with a life of grace. God had to humble me so I could experience the wonder and the glory of His amazing grace. He deserved the awards, not me.
2 Corinthians 4:15 KJV – “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”
There’s so much more to this story, but I’ll keep the other skeletons in my closet, for now. However, thank you, Heather Joy, for giving me a reason to shine the light on this dark time.
If not for the grace and mercy of my Savior, I would be nothing.
3 responses to “Shown Up, and What For?”
I may wind up doing the same thing you did, instead of just replying, I may give my own testimony of my fall from ‘all that and a bag of chips’….but truth be told, I have never been up so high that my fall would cause more than a minor adjustment in my way of life. I used to work 2 and 3 jobs when my kids were little, and still had to live in my parents basement. I managed to work my way in the retail buisness to Assistant Store managers but my income was still such that I always got a tax refund instead of having to pay at the end of the year. When I finally had to quit work for health reasons, and go on disability,it was for me more humiliation than hardship. Not being able to earn a paycheck. Living from month to month not knowing if I will have 10.00 left in my checking account before the next check comes in…a lot of times it is less than that.But what I have gained, has been time. I used to work so much and never seemed to have time. Time for my kids when they were growing up. Time to do things I needed to do. I now have time to spend with God’s word, reading and growing and learning to be content no matter what the circumstance. I no longer feel the urgency to be at the top of my game. I am happy sitting at the knee of Jesus and just soaking up what He has to offer.If I am fortunate enough to be able to go back to work again and start earning a living like the rest of the world, I know that I would have a better understanding of my priorities than I did before my life turned upside down. I can appreciate your testimony of humility because a fall is a fall, the distance is not relevant. Whether we are able to pull back up to that level and surpass it however is not the material success so much as the Spiritual growth. I have gained a Kings treasure that can not compare to mere green paper with dead presidents on it.
Great post, Pastor Baker. It’s always a humbling experience when you’re “showed up” by someone younger, less experienced, or less “schooled” than you. ALWAYS. As they say in the hood – “my ego be trippin’!” ha. (I’m never going to say that again). :]
Thank you for being see-through. I can see God on the other side. 🙂 Authenticity is a beautiful thing, so thank you for your testimony of grace.