It all began in grade school, when I would go to school the first day with my 8-crayon pack in my cigar box (Yes, I’m that old!), along with my big fat pencil, and my Big Chief tablet. Many other kids would have 32 and 64 crayon packs. I gleefully traded my classmates out of all the cool colors my simple 8-pack was missing. By junior high and high school, I looked forward to the day the promotional people would ask the students to sell something in order to raise money for the school. It was permission to go sell all I wanted and earn some dinky prize! There were water conditioners to sell door-to-door in college, then cars and farm commodities later in life. I’ve been a salesman my entire life, because I felt empowered by it.
I have sold people on everything including why my unverified facts are correct. I don’t think about it or plan it. It is my go-to conversation to sell my version of the truth, whether it is correct or not. I use it to portray a self-assured persona while trying to stay safe in the deep recesses of my mind.
God has shown me how I use this to manipulate and control those closest to me. He’s been showing me, layer by layer, how corrupt and distracting from God this is in my life. I am struggling to stop it, but I will admit, I fail more than I succeed. Instead of giving and sharing God’s story and His love, I’m always selling my story to prove my superiority or worth. Those around me can’t receive help or even a listening heart if I’m plotting the next hustle in my mind.
This is how God explained it to me. The act of selling is a taking process. In order to get a sale, I must TAKE someone’s attention and interests so that they “buy” what I am selling. Ministry is freely GIVING to someone else. These are two very different philosophies. One hurts and strips away from people. The other strengthens and encourages people. The former sucks life from those around me. It breaks trust and takes us all away from the pursuit of purpose.
If I can’t sell my polished presentation, I am scared. I am in the moment and not prepared. I am vulnerable, and I act out of fear by doubling down on my agenda instead of leaning on Christ. Paul describes it better than I can in Romans 7:14-18, “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I allow not. For what I would, that do I do not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me for I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Paul is not giving an excuse. He is recognizing that when I do what I know not to do, I’m allowing our flesh to be in control even if it inflicts pain on my family.
So, I had to ask myself why I felt the need to sell. Why could I not just trust God and let Him lead me? There are two things I’ve come to see. I never internalized God’s love for me, and I have never really felt that He could or would choose to love me. The other thing God has shown me is that I never felt that there was anybody that would protect me and keep me safe; therefore, I’ve never trusted anyone . . . but me.
Something Mike said in a recent sermon has really stuck with me and helped me understand what I am doing. He said, “You will give God everything but that piece of your old man that you feel can destroy you if separated from it.” I can give God the little things, but I can’t trust Him to love me and keep me safe.
It’s been a long, slow process of me being able to see this side of myself. I would love to write a pretty paper saying that I’ve overcome my flesh, and I am looking at it in the rearview mirror. I will probably never be there. The struggle will make me stronger, though. Romans 8:6-8 reminds me that I will always war against the carnally minded person in me while on earth, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God. For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
What specific steps am I taking to change?
- I am choosing to talk less so that I can listen more. I need to listen to hear, not just take in the words.
- I am giving suggestions, not forcing my opinion on others. It helps when I realize that my thoughts and ideas are just my opinions, not facts.
- I look for opportunities to bless, encourage, and pray for others. This gets the focus off of me and allows me to be a conduit for Christ’s love.
- I also make a conscience effort to praise and thank God continually throughout the day. For me, this starts with the everyday things like being thankful for my family.
Honestly, I don’t understand all the depths of this, but I know that the best remedy is to focus on others and on God. I want to earn the opportunity to hear God say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . .” when it’s time for me to leave this earth (Matthew 25:21).
— Written by Gigi
The picture shows the kids enjoying a trampoline that was earned in one of Gigi’s sales gigs.