I have had a pretty event-full week. One of the highlights of the week was the birth of my very first nephew. He is the most adorable little person. I think he will be one calm boy, more like my father who he is named after. However, calm as he may be, watching him I could not help but see how delicate he was. Yani it’s so easy to break his every bone so that while holding him should be the easiest thing, it is kinda traumatizing.
Then, in between all, he caught a fever! Yes, one day old and already has a fever and as I watched the parents panic. I could not help but realise the journey we all take from our younger days to the adults we are now is not an easy journey. The mother cannot take away her eyes from this young one for too long, lest he covers his nostrils with the 10000 shawls that are covering him. Every 2 or 3 hours, a doctor or nurse has to pass by his bed to check up on him. And let’s not mention the sleepless nights that await the parents weeks ahead. New borns!
As I reflected on this amazing moment, I could not help but draw a parallel to the start-up days, months and years of Lapid Leaders Africa (LLA). I have been sharing some of the lessons God has been teaching me over the last one year. I thought 1 or 2 blogs would be enough, 3 blogs later I’m still there. You can check out the other blogs here. And lesson no 4 is start-ups are hard, very very hard!
When I look at the last 8 months of the existence of LLA and the one year since I left formal employment, the one thing I can say for sure, is that it has not been easy. I have had more sleepless nights than I care to count, I have worried more moments that I knew possible, I have felt helpless more times than I care to remember, I have been disappointed more times than I care to count. Last week was one of those disappointing weeks.
A couple of months ago I started a conversation with an organisation that I hoped we would partner with to develop the training arm of LLA. The possibilities were exciting, so I patiently waited for it to bear fruit. I have realised that life is a journey, you plant seeds, you water them and then you hold your breath praying the seeds grow. So we did just that, and just when the plant was beginning to show signs of bearing fruit, it died! The opportunity was gone. The organisation had decided to partner with different organisation; and listen to this, I am the one who introduced them to the organisation they chose to partner with. Bummer.
After all the effort, this is how this story was going to end? I was disappointed. I was back to the start up feelings I described below. I asked God why? Really why, why take me so close only for this to be taken away. But that’s the unwritten story of start-ups, they are hard.
A flight is the best illustration of start-ups, the say the take off point is the most dangerous. 24% of accidents occur during takeoff and a good chunk of the rest during landing. Up until the plane takes off, there is no rest for the pilot. It’s the same thing with any start up, and not just in business, for my nephew, his start-up days are most dangerous; for any newlyweds, the start-up days are hardest.
Start-ups are hard. And the startup days of Christianity were not any different, they were hard.
The start-up of the gospel….
Paul knew that start-ups are hard all too well. We see the success of the work God used him to do, several books of the bible were written by him, but success is like an iceberg, you see the glory but the greatest part of that success is below the water and its made up of tears, disappointments, sleepless nights. You can read this blog we wrote in the LLA blogs for more of this.
Paul had his fair share of disappointments, failures, frustrations. “Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”
If you do not have the tenacity, the commitment, the zeal to keep on, start-up days are hard enough to destroy you. You fall, you get disappointed, you run to God (I don’t know how people do such things without God!), you ask that He encourages you, you pick up the pieces and you move on.
Paul had mastered this. He knew far too well how hard start-ups can be! But this man was committed enough to the work God had given him, to the vision of spreading the good news. He says, “but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
He fell. He was persecuted. But each time, Paul woke up, determined to finish the race.
So yes, that’s what has kept me going over the last few months, a determination to finish the race. Like Paul, I live for these words from the Lord, ‘well done good and faithful servant’. I know the vision is His, I am the executor, the servant and all He requires of me is like Paul, to press on toward the goal. It may be hard some days, like my nephew, LLA may be in its delicate days, but with God’s help, we are committed to waking up in the middle of the night when the baby cries; with God’s help we are committed to pray over this baby; with God’s help we are committed to feed this baby, until he can walk, until he can run, until this vision comes to pass. .
With God’s help.
A few days after losing this ‘all-time’ amazing contract that I mentioned earlier, I realised how we lost this contract to an organisation that’s 100 times larger than we are, a South African organisation with a muscle that we do not have. In less than 8 months God had given us the capacity to run against such companies. Disappointed yes, but also privileged to be taking such strides.
So like Paul, I say ‘forgetting the past I press on’.
Hold onto that dream God has given you. Do the work to build your marriage. Do the work to settle in that new job. Cry, scream, do whatever it takes but every time, ask God HELP!! I want to finish these race. He is an ever present help, you are not in this by yourself coz start-ups are hard but with God ALLLLLLLLL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!