March 30, 2014
Sunday, 7:00 p.m.
Letter #324: In Pursuit of Success
I love teaching the business classes, public speaking class, and choirs. I love the subject matter, of course, but the classes also help keep me up-to-date on current trends in business and marketing.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr. (whoever he is/was) once said, “Find a job you like, and you add five days to every week.” I’m sure that sounds like such a deal to someone who has always hoped for longer weeks. My weeks are long enough as it is, and I have over 475 of them left to do in prison. Five days extra per week would give me over 6½ additional years here. But I get his point. When we are doing what we love, time is more meaningful and enriching.
That doesn’t mean it will be easy to pursue what you enjoy doing. I’ve had setback after setback since starting the classes two-and-a-half years ago. Waiting to meet with staff for approvals and authorizations, delays in scheduling graduation programs, lack of classroom space large enough to accommodate the classes, lack of law library computer time, and lack of copy paper are just a few of the frustratingly simple issues I’ve faced.
Last fall’s semester was so fraught with delays that I’ve taken to using words like fraught to describe it, and I ended up truncating the season and re-launching it in January. What had started as a typical full class of thirty students re-launched with less than ten and has dwindled down to a core group of five. My Business 201 on finance and marketing has two students who participate and do the homework assignments.
The poor attendance was a blow to my enthusiasm, my drive, and my pride. My measures for success in the classes are all based on numbers—how many start, participate, perform, do homework, finish, graduate, and go on to start a business once released. I help as many as I can, and I’m glad to have inspired several who now run their own businesses. I consider this success.
Ahh, but surely I know better! Success is not derived from a spreadsheet of numbers and analytics. These are but small indicators of the POTENTIAL for success. I’ve always considered my time well-spent if I perceive I’ve made an impact on someone, I’ve given hope, or sparked inspiration. And yet, I’d not seen anything like what happened this past week in Business 201.
Just five minutes into the class, a young Vietnamese guy named Viet stopped my lecture and said he wanted to ask me a personal question. With the class size at a whopping two students, I let it run far more informally than normal, so I agreed.
But Viet wasn’t interested in the lesson of the day. Instead he asked, “Why are you so into God?” Thankfully, I’ve been taught to “Be ready always with an answer for the hope that lies within you.”
“Well, God has done incredible things for me, and I know He cares about me,” I replied. What followed was a two-and-a-half hour long discussion all about faith in God. He asked and I answered questions about science, eternity, right and wrong, relationships, and more.
Viet’s parents are traditional Buddhists, while his sisters attend a Catholic church. He professes to be an atheist, so I asked him if he was sure—has he searched everywhere for God, yet? I concluded with a challenge to seek God on his own. We’ve set a future date to meet privately and read some devotional material.
I went away feeling so humbled to be used by God to speak His Word to a truth-seeker, but even more humbled by what Viet said: “I would have never asked you if the class was bigger. I waited until there were just two of us.”
Thank you, God! Help me to see all of life from Your perspective and in that, find my success.