About a week ago a good friend told me I need to tell me story. So I set out to try to put it down on paper. One thing I am learning in the process of telling my story is that all stories need some sort of context. Context involves little bits of information which help readers/listeners better understand the perspective of the storyteller. The context helps shape the meaning of what a storyteller is saying. To begin my story, there are a few things you should know about me. If you knew me aside from my writing here, you would know that I am an "Apple Guy." Anything that Apple releases, I have it on my wish list. I follow Apple in the news, I research their products, I watch their press releases. Heck, I even spent 3.5 years working in one of the Apple retail stores.
After Apple retail, I started a consulting business to teach people how to get more out of Apple products. Along the way I spent two years of nonstop studying to learn how to develop apps for Apple devices. I devoted time and significant student loan debt to pursue my dream of developing apps for iOS. So when I say I am an “Apple Guy,” you will now know what I mean.
Craig Groeschel, Senior Pastor of Life.Church, has been my mentor for close to twenty years. I have been listening to his teaching, reading his books, and listening to his podcasts. I was first introduced to him at a Bible study for college students at a local Baptist church. This was before Craig Groeschel and Life.Church were household names in the church world.
At this time, Craig was just a young pastor who spoke the Word of God in a way I had never heard before. He was not famous, He was someone who presented following Christ in a way which was real, and applicable to my life. His stories and jokes pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in the church world at the time. This was probably one of the things which drew me to his preaching. He was real, his teaching was honest, and his jokes were icing on the cake. Needless to say, I have never been bored at church since.
Now some cultural context. If we fast forward to 2007-2008, Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone and the World would never be the same again. Life.Church is Life Covenant Church a.k.a. Lifechurch.tv, a locally-known church at the time. The church was experiencing some success, but nowhere near where it is today. Me and my wife, Kristi, had finally found a church which we both agreed on. We had been married for about 6-7 years attending Lifechurch.tv for about 5-6 years and were somewhat acclimated to married life.
Starting out in our marriage, I was working full-time for a local startup as a web developer. Keep in mind that the term web developer did not exist at the time and this was about 2001. Everything we worked on was breaking new ground. I started working for this company which was pretty small. Maybe ten employees max at the time. It was what I refer to as my first, "real job." I had started out as part-time, but when the opportunity to go full-time presented itself, I jumped on it.
In my mind, I was getting paid good money to play, I mean work on a computer. It was just after nine-eleven and the financial markets were, pretty bad. As a small startup, we had tried and succeeded at going public, it was just a tough time to be a startup. We were out of money and needed funding to grow the business. Looking back, I believe it was more dire circumstances than what it appeared. It wasn't long before the company announced we had been purchased by a company in Sunnyvale California.
So here I was, struggling to figure out who I was and enduring the challenges of a startup. The opportunity arose to expand our production capabilities to New York and London. I was approached with the task of training and certifying two other groups of developers on developing our product, The Webcast. This sounded exciting, so I took on the role and became part of the training department in California. Little did I know, this change would later make me vulnerable. So the market was rough and we now found ourself being bought by one of our customers, Williams.
It was strange, but we moved forward nonetheless. The process was more involved than I let on, but I will save you the details. I was working full-time, my wife, Kristi was about to start full-time as a nurse after finishing nursing school. I was about a year away from finishing my bachelor's degree in Business Management. I had taken a semester off to adjust to working full-time. All-in-all things were going well.