The atmosphere was already charged by the time the recruits entered the meeting space. We spoke with high energy. The scripts, were learned to the point that it sounded like our own words! We were a group of young life insurance salesmen who were hoping to acquire our Series 7 (a license to become a financial advisor and make trades in the stock market). Our business model was the MLM format and we could make money three ways: selling life insurance, getting people in financial-vehicles, or getting recruits.

I was fresh out of grad school; a prime candidate for starting a career that could make me enough money to pay off my student loans. Or so my marketing director thought. My clothes? Sharp. And my mind? The same. Only one thing was “wrong” with me and my direct supervisor noticed it and revealed to me a secret lesson.

Million dollar stories didn’t motivate me. Seeing nice cars and networking with millionaires, for me, left much to be desired. My lack of thrill was noticeable. My heart didn’t jump in excitement when I visited big homes. I did like what I was learning though. Even so, my heart had already chosen my path for me. The thing was, I didn’t know what it was but my direct supervisor recognized what it wasn’t.

He never told me to leave but eventually, my misalignment became like a pebble in my shoe. I left.

I can’t tell you that it all works out in the end because I haven’t reached mine yet. But there is something settling that washes over you when you decide to listen to your heart instead of fighting against it with the driving narratives of culture.

Three weeks ago I introduced you to what I believe to be the most beautiful story ever written – The Samaritan woman at the well (Bible story found in The Gospel of John chapter 4). The culture of Jesus’ day operated like a multi-level-marketing society and the Samaritans (a people group) were on the bottom rung. One of the driving narratives in Israel’s culture at the time, was that Jews never had any interactions with Samaritans.

And yet in this story we find one of the unique times where Jesus is compelled to visit the area where he met this Samaritan woman (You’ll find that in verse 4 of John chapter 4). It was so remarkable that Jesus’ disciples marveled that Jesus was speaking with this woman (that is in verse 27).

When you don’t follow popular culture’s rules for how you should behave, they never can understand you. Part of what makes this story beautiful is that God yearned to share some time with an outcast who was psychologically oppressed because of social forces; And deemed that connection to be worth of much more value than his hunger, being honored in palatial splendor or receiving celebrity-like praise.

I do have more perspectives about this story that I will share as I continue writing, but for now, what I’m highlighting here is this:
Do we hate the outcast? Do we honor our culture over the psychological oppression of others? Do we crave our fame more than helping people realize that we are all the same? Do we seek the conversations of luxury, comfort and prestige over listening to the story of someone who is hurting?

Sometimes, as an individual born in an American territory, I often feel like the answer to those questions is “Yes”.

A more localized question is “Do I…” act in those ways? We all have outcasts in our lives, from our own point-of-view. How do we feel about them? How do we treat them?

As I consider the answer for me. Take time this week to consider how your answer impacts what you want to see in this world.

pic of heidelberg project in Detroit

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