Friday, October 31, 2008

Family Ties

I always thought I would follow in my father’s footsteps and have a career in business. Dad was a successful and much-loved sales manager at Lever Brothers, and after he went to be with the Lord, I wanted to honor his legacy by going into business too. So after flinging my graduation cap to “Pomp and Circumstance” along with the rest of the Marcus High School class of 1991, I packed my Izods and Jordache jeans, along with other dorm room essentials like a hot plate and mini TV, into my trusty Dodge Shadow and headed to Aggieland, where I had received a full academic scholarship and planned to get my MBA.

My freshman year, I was selected to participate in the business school honors program, joining a dozen or so students hand-picked to be instructed by the deans of each department. I was on a fast track to success in the business world. Dad would be so proud, I thought.

Trouble was, I didn’t care much for accounting. Or microeconomics. Or finance. Or many of the other classes along the way to my business degree. Come to think of it, I only truly enjoyed classes like marketing and advertising—subjects where I could be creative and write.

By my sophomore year, the situation was becoming quite a quandary for this practical-minded gal. How could I continue pursuing a career that I frankly wasn’t interested in? On the other hand, if I didn’t get a business degree, what on earth was I going to do? I talked to my mom and several trusted friends about my dilemma, and their suggestion was almost unanimous: why not change my major to English, where I could focus on what I loved—reading, writing, and being creative?

I had a ready answer for that. I couldn’t possibly become an English major because (1) I had no desire to be a schoolteacher and (2) I didn’t want to wait tables for the rest of my life. After all, practically speaking, weren’t those the only two career options for an English major? (Before you beg to differ on this point, yes, I know there are many, many other options. But at the time, I wasn’t aware of them. Just hang with me here.)

After much prayer, I sensed the Lord guiding me to a perfect solution: why not combine my interests and go into the business of writing? Aha! Book publishing!

I did a bit of research and found a respected Christian book publisher in the Dallas area. Convinced that I was following God’s leading, I boldly picked up the phone and gave them a call.

Did they have any part-time positions available?


Any summer internships?


Could I just come pour coffee or something, to see what book publishing was like?


Humph. Not exactly the “clear sign from God” I was looking for.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, I continued calling the publisher every few months, making sure they still had my resume and politely asking if they had any summer openings yet. I kept getting the same answer.

I had almost decided to go back to my previous summer job when out of the blue, I got a call from a professional-sounding woman who introduced herself as Laura Minchew, vice president of the children’s division of Word Publishing. She had seen my resume and was impressed. Would I be interested in a summer internship in the children’s book division?

Yes, yes, YES!

That was great, she said. Then she mentioned one other detail—it would be an unpaid internship. Was I okay with that?

Um, God, when I asked You to provide a job at a book publisher, should I have specified a “paying” one? After all, money is kind of important for me, being in college and all . . .

Of course I was okay with that, I assured her, swallowing my protests to the contrary. Sign me up! I’d start as soon as the spring semester was over.

So in May 1993, I donned my most professional-looking attire (in that era, no doubt something paisley with puffy sleeves) and drove to the offices of Word Publishing, ready to find out what the book publishing biz was all about.

And I’ve been hooked ever since.

Those of you who have stumbled upon your life’s calling—the place where your passion meets your paycheck—understand what I mean when I say that from the moment I walked into the world of Christian books, I knew I was home.

At Word, I was surrounded by talented, energetic, creative people who were eager to help authors effectively communicate their messages of hope and truth to thousands of people around the world. I couldn’t believe there were so many people who loved books as much as I did! As David Moberg, former VP of Word and a highly respected leader in the Christian book industry, once said, “We have ink in our veins.” So it will come as no surprise that after my summer internship, I continued to work for Word at every opportunity throughout my college days and then enthusiastically accepted a full-time position upon graduation.

Honestly, I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else! There was a synergy at Word Publishing that, ironically, defies description. It was a golden era of like-minded, highly skilled people who wholeheartedly rallied around a shared desire to publish top-quality, God-honoring books. The leadership cultivated a family atmosphere where every employee felt valued and essential, thus inspiring us to work even harder to produce excellent products. In every sense of the term, it was a dream team.

My dad would have been so proud.

But like the poet Robert Frost famously penned, “So dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay.” Only three years after I began working there full-time, Word was bought by another publisher and moved to Nashville. Several people transferred with the company, but many of us whose lives and loved ones were in the Dallas area simply couldn’t make the move.

After tearful good-byes, our close-knit Word family was literally torn apart as we scattered across the metroplex. Several people, like me, continued to work for Word on a freelance basis, while others found positions at other publishers or companies.

Fast-forward twelve years.

On the eve of David Moberg’s sixtieth birthday, he had made plans to travel from Nashville to accompany author Max Lucado to a book signing in Hurst. A couple of former Word folks came up with a fabulous idea: This would be a great opportunity for a Word Publishing reunion! A few e-mails and phone calls later, the plans were all set.

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of reconnecting with my Word family. It was a delightful evening of hugs and swapping stories and catching up with dear friends. Sure, there were a few more gray hairs around the table, but the synergy and sparkle of the Word team still shone through. We still share a common passion, as well as the deep bonds that come with having poured out our hearts together for many years to accomplish a common goal.

At one point in the evening, my husband Brett leaned over to me and said, “Now I see why you loved working at Word so much. The energy here is incredible!” No matter the time and distance that may separate us, these people are, in every sense of the word, my family.

As I looked through pictures of our Word reunion this morning, I got to thinking, What would it be like if the church had this kind of synergy? After all, no matter where we worship on Sunday mornings, the congregation is filled with people who share a common passion (a love for Jesus Christ) and who are pouring out their hearts together to accomplish a common goal (spreading the gospel and developing fully functioning followers of Jesus Christ). We are, in every sense of the word, the family of God.

One of the great things about The Church at Sendera Ranch is that as a new church, our congregation does have a genuine excitement. Many people at TCASR have said that from the moment they walked into the service, they knew they were home.

Like the golden era of Word, TCASR is made up of like-minded, supernaturally gifted people who wholeheartedly rally around a shared desire to change lives for good. Our leadership cultivates a family atmosphere where every person feels valued and essential, thus inspiring all of us to work even harder to share the gospel and serve our community. In every sense of the term, it is a dream team.

It is my prayer that we will continue to sustain this level of connectedness and purpose so that many years from now, someone will lean over to me and say, “Now I see why you love serving at The Church at Sendera Ranch so much. The energy here is incredible!”

What about your church? Is there a synergy and sparkle among your church family that attracts others and makes them want to be part of what God is doing there? If not, what can you do to help cultivate that sense of connectedness and enthusiasm in your church today?

No comments:

Post a Comment