Friday, July 29, 2016

Making Things Up

Remember in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Sallah asks Indy what his plan is, and he says, “I don’t know – I’m making this up as I go?”

Henry Jones, Jr. had goals, but at that point, he had no plan for how to accomplish them.

I can relate.

I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, and haven’t since that fateful day when I became convinced that God was calling me to write, and that he might be asking me to leave my comfortable, secure job to do so. My book, To Do This Right, largely deals with the struggle of someone who dislikes uncertainty (me) coming to terms with not having a plan.

But apparently I’m a glutton for punishment, because I recently started an arts ministry at my church, and I have no clue how to do that, either. I have the vision, sure, but a plan for executing it? Lol.

I tend to tread water and get distracted by shiny rocks in the sand when I don’t know where I should be swimming. God has been extremely patient with me, but that doesn’t give me carte blanche to indefinitely ignore the way he keeps pointing downstream.

One of his many nudges came two weeks ago in the form of a blog by Ginny Owens about distractions. It turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, because a few days of pondering how her metaphor plays out in my own life, on top of all the other ways God has been prodding me, finally shook me out of my stupor. I even wrote a post about it on my other blog!

So I’m back to work, even though I still have to make it up as I go.

Speaking of Ginny Owens and making things up: I thought it would be cool for the arts ministry to do some sort of big event once a year or so, that would involve bringing people in from elsewhere as a special treat, and to engage the broader community. I figured it would be a couple years before we had one, since we’re just getting started.

 I don’t even remember why, but a few months ago, I looked up Ginny Owens’ website. In my exploration, I discovered that she’s been traveling a lot, doing gigs of all shapes and sizes. Naturally, my first thought was, “What if we invited Ginny Owens to come out here? She might actually say yes!”

I sat on that idea for a few weeks, because we’re just getting started – we are so not ready for something like that. But my imagination had been caught, so I decided to see what such a thing would actually entail, to gauge if it would even be feasible at some point in the future. I contacted her booking agency in the most low-key, non-committal manner possible: email.

They responded with a phone call.*

Used with permission.

Over the next couple of months, I talked to the booking agent, my pastor, and my Staff Overlord (the gentleman who was subsequently voluntold to be my church staff contact for the ministry). To my surprise, things started progressing, and it looked like we might actually be able to do it – maybe sooner than I thought!

I decided to go for it: I worked out a budget, I created a proposal with help from my dad, I presented the proposal to the Elder Board, and I consulted with the church finance folks, all things I had never done before in my life. Then I submitted our official offer.

Wait, what?

That’s right. I submitted an offer to Ginny Owens’ booking agency. I had spent the previous two months looking at all the details I could think of. I had vetted my proposed visiting artist, crunched numbers, and learned industry vocab (apparently an artist’s “backline” means their instruments). I had done it all calmly and without ever feeling flustered. I had also prayed my way through the whole process (and still am), because “if thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15b, KJV). But when I hit the submit button on our offer, I suddenly got super nervous.

Had I actually just submitted an offer to lure a poor, unsuspecting professional out to Oregon, to perform a concert hosted by a bunch of newbies who don’t have a clue how to host a concert?

Yes. Yes, I had.

*Well played, booking agency. Well played.

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