Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm a Proud and Grateful Father - In More Ways Than You Know

One of the best thing about being a pastor is that you can have a lot of children! No, I don't mean personally, I mean the kids at the church.

It can be just as hard as it is with your own children. You have to rescue, discipline, scold, praise, reward and withhold rewards. And there are times when you wonder whether or not they will ever grow up and whether or not they hear anything your saying! 

But then they do grow up. You realize they caught more than you knew. The older they get the more proud you become. You see it in them, their children and yes, their grandchildren (REALLY!). 

When I encounter the 'kids' from the church now, I always walk away proud of the men and women they've become. Time would fail me to write about what they are doing. Their endeavors run the gamut from graduate college students and young professionals to entrreprenuers. And I get tongue-tied expressing my pride in them and the gratitude I have for having had the opportunity to serve them and their families. 

Shawn Scott is one of my 'boys' (he's nearly 40 now!), and he's a blogger (how's that for a chip off the old block?!). His thoughts will show you why I'm so proud of him and my other 'kids'. 

I Am Black in America

"Last night I finally had the chance to view CNN's "Black in America" series which highlighted a group of black entrepreneurs working in Silicon Valley. I had been following these companies since learning about the NewMe Accelerator right before their demo day earlier this year. As some people know, the Internet erupted in controversy over the last couple weeks as clips from the show were released. The most controversial topic was related to Michael Arrington's statement that he "didn't know a single black entrepreneur in the Valley"."
"After following this story pretty closely and watching the show last night I can say that I'm glad the issue of the lack of blacks in tech is finally starting to be talked about. It has been said that the tech industry is full of white and Asian guys and I would tend to agree. I have worked in the industry for about 15 years now and could probably count on my hands the number of blacks I have had the priviledge of working with in tech companies. While I'm sure there are a number of factors that have led to this happening, it is definitely an issue that needs to be talked about, dealt with and improved."
"While I've never worked in Silicon Valley, I did have the pleasure of working in the Los Angeles area over the course of the last year. In January 2010 I was visiting the area on vacation and while on Facebook I saw an ad about a technology incubator located in Ventura, CA. It caught my attention so I decided to click through and learn more about it, little did I know this would be one of the most important ads I would see in my lifetime."
"After looking around the website of the Ventura Ventures Technology Center (V2TC), I was instantly interested in learning more. Although I was only visiting the area, I always knew California was the best place to be to launch a tech startup. I had been laid off from my previous job at a tech startup in DC a few months prior and since then had been working on trying to get my own tech company off the ground. This seemed like it would be the perfect opportunity to get me going in the right direction."
"My next step was to do a bit of research on the companies currently in the incubator program as well as the venture capital firm associated with it. Everything looked good so I made an appointment to visit with the then Executive Director, Alex Schneider the next day. Upon arrival Alex gave me a tour of the facility which was a part of Ventura's city hall. The city was forward thinking enough to realize that the tech industry is currently booming and in order to attract companies to the area they would need to get involved in a big way."
"After the tour we went back to Alex's office to talk more about the incubator as well as my business. It turned out that Alex had also lived in DC prior to moving to Ventura and we also discussed the differences between the two coasts. I let him know that I was currently living in Dallas, and this was only my second trip to the area so he gave me a number of other resources to check out in order to make sure I was making the best decision about moving. The next step was to fill out an application and submit my business plan."
"It took me a day or two to revise my business plan and get my application submitted. A few days later I got an email back from Alex saying I had been accepted and could move in whenever I was ready. Never in a million years would I have guessed any of this would have happened when I first decided to go to California for this trip. The only way I can explain is that an opportunity came up and I was in the perfect position to take advantage of it."
"When I was a kid I spent a bit of time in Boy Scouts and as most people know their motto is "be prepared". This is the biggest piece of advice that I can give any entrepreneur because you never know what is going to come your way. One of the moments I found interesting during the program last night was when each company had to get on stage and pitch their company. Most of them nervously stumbled through the presentations and later complained that they didn't expect to have to pitch their companies so soon. Not being prepared is never an excuse, especially when it comes to running a business and anyone who tries to use it as one is not serious about whatever they are doing."
Read the rest of Shawn's post here...
Our church was a comparatively small congregation in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Dallas. Shawn and the other boys and girls whom we all tried to teach and train to be productive Christians, citizens are the evidence I have that making deep investments in the lives of our children is the most worthwhile thing we can do. 
I am, of course, proud of my three daughters. I'm proud of the two sons I have who await me in Heaven. But I am also proud of the children, now grown and many with families of their own, whose parents and grandparents gave me the chance to be a spiritual father to them. Shawn's just one example, but you can see through him why I remain proud and grateful!

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