Barry was a salesman working for me. He was a great guy, an effective salesman, and he was focused on his #1 goal in life: becoming a millionaire as soon as possible. I loved his honest transparency.
As a part of our job, he and I had a “sales meeting” every week. Those were remarkable meetings.
These meetings generally lasted a couple of hours and we met in the food court of a local shopping mall.
We always started out with reviewing his sales work. He’d give me the signed contracts that he’d earned over the last week. We’d discuss the accounts and then talk about the coming week’s sales strategies. That took at least a quarter of an hour.
Barry’s vehicle of choice for reaching his millionaire goal was a large multi-level marketing group he was excited about, so we discussed how that was going for him. That took maybe a third of an hour.
Then came the good stuff. I pulled out my Bible, and we discussed our experiences and beliefs in things of eternity. Barry wasn’t a believer, but he was an honest thinker. “Because the Bible says so,” wasn’t convincing to him. But, “Well, the Bible says this, and here’s what I’ve experienced there,” meant a lot.
He wasn’t afraid to push back on a subject if he thought I was wrong, and if I was, I had to be real about it, or these brilliant conversations would be gone.
That was back in my stick-in-the-mud evangelical hard-liner days. I was convinced that being rich – and therefore aspiring to be rich – was evil. Barry, the non-believer, reminded me that a lot of the guys in the Bible (Job, Abraham, Joseph of Arimathea) who were wealthy. And he pointed out that aspiring to wealth wasn’t condemned; it was just a path full of dangers and traps (see 1Timothy 6:9), and he fully acknowledged the dangers.
We talked in terms of “Crossing the bridge” from living for yourself to living in relationship with Jesus, and we both discussed it as a “when;” we didn’t approach it as an “if.” But we both knew it was going to be a while for him.
That season in my life ended abruptly when I was suddenly fired by the business owner (after acknowledging he was impressed with the work Barry & I had done to make his business remarkably profitable).
Legally prevented from other work in the country, we packed up and moved back home and, with our tail between our legs, moved in with grandparents to lick our wounds. The economy was tough; it took a year for us to get a job and find a home.
As we were moving boxes into our rental, the phone rang. I didn’t even know it had been hooked up yet.
It was Barry. “I wanted you to know that I crossed the bridge. I knew you’d want to know And I wanted to thank you for your time and friendship.”
Life wasn’t through kicking us around. But that one phone call gave me strength to keep on keeping on for quite a while.
Barry got a running start into the Kingdom. I was not the only man discipling him before he came to faith.
Consider: Jesus did not require a confession of faith before he called his disciples. Why should we?