Thursday, July 27, 2017

"What Do You Do?" "Uhhh...."

I met some new people tonight, and was asked the question, and stumbled a bit, as I often do, before saying something like, "I publish Homewood Nation, an internet-based community news service."

I stumbled, and often do, not because that answer is false, but because it is so very incomplete. Any single answer to the question has been incomplete for...decades.

And for decades, giving a single answer has cheated the people who asked, of a more complete answer.

At times, that has produced absurd consequences.

From 1989 through 1994, I was a real estate agent with a family-owned firm, Lavelle Real Estate, Inc. Against the counsel of those who said that a real estate agent should begin that work on a part-time basis, I quit my job to pursue it full-time, telling myself that that was the way to experience success sooner.

It took me a year to complete my first sale.

While I was struggling as a real estate agent, I was also an associate minister at Bethany Baptist Church, a Homewood congregation whose Sunday morning attendance averaged 300 or so people, most of them (as far as I could tell) middle class.

I taught classes, I counseled, I helped to lead worship, I preached, I performed weddings and funerals and dedicated infants. All for free.

(From 1985 - 1988, I was paid, through an arrangement with the Coalition for Christian Outreach, a campus ministry organization.)

In five years, I never did make a living as a real estate agent, and one reason was that in five years, I never presented myself to the hundreds of people at Bethany as a real estate agent. I convinced myself that people who saw me in the pastoral role could not see me well as a business person.

So I didn't give them the chance to give me the chance to make a living.


But the failure, if not downright refusal, to present myself to the world in a holistic way has been one of my strongest habits for...well, seemingly forever.

So now, most people who know that I market LegalShield don't know that I am the president of a fledgling nonprofit organization (Race Street 2050, Inc.), and my fellow members of that nonprofit probably don't know that I publish Homewood Nation. Do readers of Homewood Nation know that I market LegalShield? Most probably don't.

So I was thinking about how I want a better answer to, "What do you do?" and came up with this:

"I'm building a media company, and working on a project to help college students graduate debt-free, and collaborating with my neighbors to exercise leadership in maintaining and enhancing our street. Oh, and I drive for Uber."

That's all stuff that I am doing right now, but whaddaya think? Too much?

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