In June of 1986 I was desperate for not only a job, but a profession. After my full time status with the ministry I had served in for 15 years was terminated in 1985, I had spent a year working for a man trying to raise money for a major campground project he envisioned. Neither he nor I had a clue what we were doing and after a year he abruptly filed for bankruptcy and saddled me with nearly $25,000 of debt.
After failing miserably in my one day trial of being a manager at a McDonalds, I was introduced to the sales manager of the local Dodge dealership in town. For reasons known only to him, he decided to take a chance on me and personally mentor me in the art of selling a new car. At the time, I didn't realize what a commitment it was he made, but I did later.
At the time, about all I knew about cars was that they had 4 tires and needed an oil change every few thousand miles. My experiential base was nearly zero when it came to both vehicles and sales of such an item. After a week of observation and studying brochures and watching various videos on how to sell, it was time for me wait on my first customer.
Early the next Monday morning I welcomed the first person I had the daunting task of trying to persuade I knew what I was talking about. Keep in mind that the car business was far different back 25 years ago than it is now. At that time Dodge was not a good brand and its vehicles were outdated and notorious for having major problems. There were few people who had any desire to even look at a Dodge let alone purchase one.
Chrysler had nearly declared bankruptcy a few years prior to this but Lee Iacocca had taken over the corporation and turned it around with the help of a government loan. Among the things he pushed for was the development of a small fuel efficient car to go up against the imports. He also pushed for the company to develop a brand new concept called a "mini-van". At this time in 1986 both of these new types of vehicles had only recently been introduced.
The gentleman I had the joy of waiting on worked the night shift down the road at Boeing and stopped to look at cars on his way home. He could tell I was very unsure of myself and instead of getting mad or trying to exploit me, he told jokes and tried to help me relax. I will forever be grateful for God blessing me with such a wonderful first customer.
Anyway, the car he wanted to look at was the new economy car called the "Omni". We walked back to the back lot and found one that met his criteria. I opened the car and much to my terror, saw the car was a stick shift. Despite being 33 years old at the time, I had never driven a manual transmission car. Not wanting to prove my ineptness I decided to take him on a test drive anyway.
Oh how the angels in heaven must have gathered to watch me try to drive a car I had no clue how to drive. I will spare you the horrible details, but I can say it was NOT a pretty site. After initially being a bit concerned, the customer could not take it any longer and burst out laughing. He asked if I had ever driven a stick shift before. Sheepishly I said no.
Thankfully he knew how to drive one and I let him do the driving while I tried to "sell" him the car. I don't think I knew the answer to any question he asked and when I did try to answer I was wrong on every detail. After a test drive he parked the car back in its space and we headed back for my first sales presentation.
Now, I had taken the complete Dale Carnegie sales class back in 1974 so it was not that I didn't understand the mechanics of selling. It was just that I had never actually done it with a commission on the line. I fumbled around and did as I had learned to do fully expecting him to laugh at me again and walk out.
When we got to the point where he had to say yes or no; he said no thank you. I was devastated and asked why. He said it was because I could not answer his questions. Little did I know the manager who had hired me was standing just outside the door and when he heard the customer say "no", he casually walked in and introduced himself.
In a very nice way he told the man he was my first customer. Within ten minutes the man had signed the sales contract and later that day I delivered my first new car.
When people say "I have your back", I don't think most of them have a clue what that means. My manager back 24 years ago did know what it meant and DID IT. He let me learn but didn't let me fail. He knew if I had failed on that easy first sale I would have probably quit that day. Instead, he gently stepped in and covered me, picking up the slack and helping me succeed.
This, to me, is what we are supposed to be doing for each other in the Body of Christ. We should be striving to "have each other's back" instead of shooting each other in the back. There is no greater joy in this life than when we are able to "stand in the gap" and hold up each other so we can help each other win and succeed. I will forever be thankful for that man who took a chance on me and helped me be all he saw I could be.
That man had all the markings of a good teacher. He stepped back and allowed you to try but then stepped back in when necessary to help you succeed. Many say they have your back but they are not prepared to be there for the long haul. Sometimes it is because they were just mouthing the words. Sometimes it is because they themselves are overwhelmed by something happening in their lives. Sometimes it is because they have simply tried to catch everyone's back... and they can't. Only God can do that.
I truly thank God for the people in my life who really do "catch my back"! I know I can call on them even if it is the middle of the night and they will be right there to encourage and pray for me. One of the ways God can reveal Himself to us is through our friends. I think we need to remember that. Is God ministering to our friends and family through us?
I just remember recently reading about 2 people from a time ago that work based on a "handshake contract"... I also remember when a man gave his word it was his bond.. Now people give you their word and then get 'amnesia on you in a minute... when i look back on my life, i'm glad that i failed at something's and got fired and layed off some jobs. there was always something to be learned to be prepared for the next thing. thank you for your blog. be blessed
Dear B2Y--As it relates to Christian Blog, I believe it is especially essential to cover each other's back. By that, I mean we muist present a united front, especially to the visitors who come here everyday.
I believe that, when I read a blog, it is incumbent on me to write something positive or encouraging in my comments or to not write anything at all. If I have differences with a blog writer and he/she is on my friends list, I have private messages for voicing my disagreements.
In the Air Force, I learned a very important rule: praise in public and criticize in private. I believe that MUST be a rule here.
Excellent blog, my friend. Be blessed. Ron