Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Changing "My" World

I haven't said much lately about what's been going on in my world so I figured I'd fill in some blanks.

I've definitely had my share of connecting with people. In the past three months, I've had 59 one-on-one meetings (over coffee, dinner, individual connecting, networking, whatever...) and 83 meetings with a group of three or more people (for social connecting, study, networking, community building, workshops, etc...). I've also been to three conferences in the last three months which includes all the connecting with numerous folks that happen at those kinds of things. Oh yeah, i've also depleted my Cingular rollover minutes a few times because of some good and long phone conversations.

Yes, I am an introvert! For alone time (regenerating time), I've also been in prayer, Scripture, vegging on tv shows (thanks to Tivo), and i've been working out at the gym regularly 4-8 times per week.


Yeah, I've done my share of connecting. This has all been part of this transition season that God has me in . . . .

I don't think i'm going overboard with my schedule. When you merely look at the numbers, it looks like I don't get much time to myself. Actually, i keep things pretty balanced between connecting with others, connecting with God, and just me time.

Why have I been so intentional about connecting? I think it's because I am called to be a "catalyst" - to catalyze the relationships around me. In doing so, I affect the world around me. I change the world around me. I was talking with my buddy and we talked about how sometimes it feels so overwhelming to conceive of changing the entire world. We concluded that we can't. We can only change "our" world.

That's what I want to do. I want to change "my" world. I don't know how much longer I'll be around. I only recently started verbalizing this - but for the past decade, I've had that feeling... not a feeling of a doomsday or that I'm going to die tomorrow or anything. It's just a feeling that tomorrow is not guaranteed to me. And so, for the past decade, I've been living like I know that there is a "date" for me - a time when I will be recalled to be with the Lord. I don't know when - it could be 50 years from now for all I know. It's just that I feel compelled to affect this world now - while I am here.

Sometimes, I talk to my brother or my dad and they worry about me. They know i've got potential to get a really great job and stuff. I've always done well at everything I attempt. I graduated Summa Cum Laude as the Valedictorian of my university last year. They know I could do well at anything. My brother and my dad - they don't understand why I do the things I do - the decisions I make. Why do I opt for non-profit work and struggle financially when I could be working some kick-butt job in the tech industry?

It's because I feel compelled to affect my world. I would rather pursue the vision that God has placed in the fabric of who I am than to climb the corporate ladder of another man's dream. That's just me. I sacrifice financial security so that I can live out my passions because I don't know how long I'm going to be around. The draw back is that it is incredibly humbling to have to lean on family for financial support. But I love them for believing in me!

Last night, I went to dinner with that guy I've been casually seeing occassionally and he's a bit worried that i'll end up homeless. It was kinda funny (but not really funny) because I said i'd be okay if I was homeless. It's not that i want to try to be homeless. There are plenty of options before that ever occurs. I'm just saying that if I were homeless, i'd still be okay because that wouldn't stop me from being able to live out my passions.

So this transition season . . . .

I've been articulating my thoughts for this new non-profit that i'm starting. I'll be starting a blog to chronicle this process - so stay tuned for it! The organization will be called "Catalyst" and our focus will be on building a culture of trust, leadership, and life among the diverse communities of Long Beach - specifically the GLBT community here. I've got alot of good ideas for how I want to approach this. I've spoken to numerous people and have received great response and feedback. I'm excited about it! Two World Collision will just be one program of the broader organization. (This is an evolution from what I said in Sankofa Part Four). I've started working on the web site and I'm looking for a graphic artist who can help me out for free. I've got $0 budget right now. I'll soon be raising funds once I get a tax-id number for the organization. I'm starting the process of incorporating the organization but it will cost almost $600 in application fees alone. I will trust that the needed $$ will come in.

So in the mean time, I've also been transitioning out of the current non-profit that I'm in - what i referred to in the past as my public ministry. (The kewl thing is that now, with "Catalyst", I won't have to hide what my public ministry is.) I've talked a bit about how hard it's been transitioning out. It's still partly my baby. My friend (ministry partner) and I co-founded it. We're going to be intentional about regularly connecting with each other so that we can still catalyze each other's ideas. So as for work, i've been documenting some procedures that I typically do so that someone else can carry them out when I'm gone. I've also been doing some work on the web site so that a few things will be in place before I leave. There's also been alot of administrative work that I've been taking care of to keep things running before I leave. With the job that I was doing, I was spread way thin. With me gone, there will be three people taking over what I was doing. It's a smart move - I shouldn't have been doing all those things anyway. The good thing that we're discovering is that with me leaving, there are many other people who are stepping up to support my ministry partner so that the organization continues pressing forward.

The lesson I've learned from the first non-profit that i'll be carrying with me in starting this new one is not to try to do this alone. I can't do this alone. I'm going to try to surround myself with people who know way more than I do. I'm going to try to establish a team of people who share the vision with me and are willing to be a part of it. I trust that the Lord will send them to me.

The stress for me now is that I will no longer receive a paycheck (my current and sole source of income) after March is over. So i've used half of March's paycheck to cover my March expenses, and i'm going to try to stretch the second half of March's paycheck to cover my April expenses. The thing is - it won't be enough. I'm breaking my lease with my apartment so that I can move to a more inexpensive apartment and I'll be rooming with my buddy (hopefully!) to cut expenses. The fee for the lease break is one month's rent ($1330 - i know, crazy for a single bedroom apartment!).

What I'm discerning from the Lord right now is whether or not He wants me to get a job part-time or full-time and work "Catalyst" on my spare time, or if He wants me to pursue the formation of "Catalyst" full time and trust that we'll raise the needed funds so that I can have some kind of financial compensation while I invest my time in the community. With leftover March money, I calculated that I'm still short about $3500 to cover April plus moving expenses assuming that "Catalyst" will be able to cover me for May. Hopefully, i'll get a few hundred dollars from my tax return - i'll find out Friday.

Anyway, I hate that $$ gets in the way of doing what I really want to do - both personally and organizationally. Nevertheless, I trust Him. Historically, He's always provided for me financially. In the mean time, I will continue to cast the vision that God is birthing in me for "Catalyst" and hope that there are people in the community who will believe in it - in me - enough to be a part of supporting it.


Anonymous said...

Best of blessings on your new journey.

Eric said...

Thanks Mark.


Argh! I went in to see my tax person thinking I was going to get about $1500 back (which would have helped for that $3500 I said that i'm short). Then I found out that i was only going to get about $450 back. Now I just found out that i'm going to owe about $2100. So looks like i'll be short about $5,600 for next month.

Sigh. Where's that Cookies-N-Cream Ice Cream . . . . ?

Anonymous said...

I admire you for pursuing what you are passionate about. I know some people (most of them in my own family) earn a lot of money but they are not truly happy at what they do. And even though they have so much more than I do... I feel sorry for them.