Why Doing Something Great Is So Difficult

By Faith, General, Life

Right now, there is a local pastor who has decided to do something crazy: live on the streets until he raises enough money for the homeless. Right now, he is the local celebrity as news stations, newspapers and social media is abuzz about his outrageous campaign that is raising tens of thousands of dollars every day. It’s taking off and now famous rockstars and prominent businessmen are joining him and taking part.

I’m thankful to have our software powering the tech side of this campaign, but more so, I am thankful that I had the privilege of being in the room while Pastor Rick Cole dialoged the potential of the idea.

If you are following the updates, Rick Cole details what it’s like living in shelters, on the streets and even panhandling. Its eye-opening to say the least. It sounds incredibly difficult for most people to comprehend (as most of us are currently in an air conditioned rooms with 8+ hours of sleep likely reading this from your new iphone).

But people miss the most difficult part of what Rick Cole has done. The hardest part was not planning to go homeless, losing the comforts of your home, being away from family or even the difficulties of physically sleeping on a street. The hardest part was what he did in order to commit 100% to the idea.

It’s easy to celebrate the idea now that it’s raising tens of thousands of dollars and is featured on the news frequently. What people don’t realize is what a huge chance this was. This was either going to be a homerun or a humiliating strikeout. There was an unspoken uneasiness among those who knew this was being considered.

Having a pastor of one of the largest churches become a homeless man had a very high chance of coming across insensitive and degrading to those who are permanently homeless. The entire campaign likely could have been resoundingly rejected as being in poor taste.

Pastor Rick Cole had a lot to lose: The support of thousands of his own congregants; a viral firestorm of criticism on social media; rebuke from organizations supporting the homeless near and far; and public humiliation that would mar his entire career in the local and faith communities. One thing was for sure… if this was a failure, Rick Cole would lose his reputation in the city forever.

All that weighed on his heart and mind as he courageously stepped forward and committed to it. His commitment was headfirst and all-in. This was like game 7 of the world series with two outs and Rick decided that it was not enough to get on base. He wanted a game winning homerun.

It occurred to me that the motions of a championship winning homerun and a humiliating strikeout are both the same. One will enshrine you in the hall of fame forever, while the other will cause you to be scorn of millions. The motions of each are identical.

That’s one reason that success is so incredible – the very same effort could have resulted in utter failure. But even that is not enough. There was something even more that Rick Cole did that required an incredible amount of guts* to do this _(*I would prefer to use a more crass term, but my mom might be reading). _

In committing to this audacious dream, Rick Cole had to abandon fear of public criticism.

It’s not the fear of failure that stops people from doing great things, it’s the fear of criticism should the great idea become a failure. The courage to face the consequences of a bad idea is foundational to someone who changes the world.

The difference between whether or not you will do something great is determined by how much you fear the criticism of people.

I am reminded of a great quote by Bill Johnson: “If you don’t live according to the praise of men, you will not die by their criticism.”

This is actually in line with one of my favorite scriptures, Galatians 1:10 – “If you are trying to please men, you are not a servant of Christ.”

Put another way, you cannot serve Jesus if you are first trying to please people.

I most admire Rick Cole not for the money that he raised nor the huge spotlight that has been shown on this issue. I admire Rick Cole because he publicly demonstrated what it means to be a servant of Christ while rejecting the immense pressure to please people.

It’s one thing to do something outrageous when you have zero audience. You’ll be lucky to have anyone remember your failure. Rick on the other hand, had an entire city watching – and they would remember this for a lifetime no matter the outcome.

This campaign is not only a homerun, it’s a grandslam. I am thankful for the lesson that in order to commit to something great, you must first abandon fear of criticism. And for that, Rick Cole will forever be one of my heroes.

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