Since 2009 Lori and I have shared with people a different option for buying the normal, everyday stuff that they buy at WalMart, Target and other places. Hundreds of everyday items that despite the economy or how well they are doing or not doing financially, they are buying anyway no matter what. After all, who is going to stop doing dishes, doing laundry, brushing your teeth or showering just because things get tight? On second thought, maybe we all know one or two who don't do those things... but ignore them for a moment and follow along . :)
The key piece of this new way to shop completely and entirely hinges upon the new person "getting it" or understanding that this is something designed to replace what they already spend on an ongoing basis. Thus, it is never a matter of what someone can afford. That's part of the reason most of those we share it with love it because while you do make a monthly commitment to buy products, it's money that once again, you have been spending since the day you moved out on your own and are going to keep spending until you no longer buy things for yourself or your family.
We (Lori and I) have learned over the years to use our little shopping club as a "reveal" for people in our lives. It reveals a certain level of intelligence when people are able to grasp the whole concept of replacing what they buy currently by simply switching stores. It reveals if a person is teachable or coachable from us. It reveals if they have an appreciation for higher quality products that in many cases can make a real, tangible difference for the better in their life... and most of all it reveals integrity all the way around.
Since many of those close in our lives (in fact the majority) all shop like we do now, as you may imagine we offer ongoing support for those folks as they want or need it. Recently the same question has come up several times in the last month about how you handle it when otherwise well meaning Christians look you in the eye and tell you they want to try your store, sign an agreement to commit to doing so, and then as soon as they leave your presence they cancel that agreement and tell you they can't afford it. Remember, affordability is never an issue because it's all based on what you are already spending, so the affordability stall is always deceptive... So, for those we help locally and around the USA for that matter.. and for anyone who works from home and works with the general public in one on one referral situations, and especially for you leaders who undoubtedly run into this or similar situations with your people... this blog is for you! :)
These three things stay with Lori and I very strongly. I believe the key lies in the following three "tests" or "evidences".
1) Did we move in integrity? Did we share all of the information about the company, the products, how to buy them, the commitments required, the many exclusive benefits for those willing to make the switch, etc? It's always vital to us that we move in honest integrity, especially when asking for someone else's business. Not that Proctor and Gamble and other manufacturers have ever been terribly truthful or transparent, but still, we are not them, we are ourselves and we keep things honest as if we were dealing with Jesus bride because in most cases, we are.
2) Did they believe what we said to them? After all, what someone buys and and where someone shops is really pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things and especially compared to important matters like the Kingdom of God, so if they won't even believe us about small things like household goods, clearly they won't believe us about deep matters about the Kingdom so if they won't even believe you to begin with, that reveals that there really is not a healthy relationship to speak of there as of yet because in healthy relationships, people believe each other about smaller, more trivial matters.
3) Did we both keep our word? On our side, we make a fair amount of promises when we do an overview with folks. Those promises include walking with them and helping them. Helping them understand everything, communicating with them, helping them order and if they choose, helping them share it with others. On their side, if they tell us they are interested and want to try to convert their home, we give folks the benefit of the doubt and believe them. (see above) For most this is not an issue as most do keep their word but for the few who say they want to convert and then simply cancel without so much as making an honest attempt to keep their word, Lori and I mark those folks privately... not as bad people because they are not. Jesus still loves them just as much as He loves us, they are still anointed and absolutely able to be used by God... but we mark them as not being trustworthy with anything deeper beyond that because again, if they are not honest about a small matter like where they shop, we would be foolish to trust them in Kingdom related matters.
Years ago a woman called me in tears whom we had helped and she said to me "Mark, please help me understand why my family won't believe me about how good these products are". (Her family wasn't even willing to listen to her about them). I gently explained that she was not as close with her family as she thought she was because emotionally healthy relationships including family relationships don't raise giant red flags of scepticism when a friend or family member simply refers a friend to a given product or experience. She went on to share some deep hurts that her family had experienced at the hands of others. I share that here to help you see that many times people have underlying issues that make it very hard for them to move in solid integrity.
While it can be frustrating, it can also be very liberating to get to know where people truly stand with you as a person. Does someone really believe what you say? Do they really trust you? Will they really keep their word to you? The healthy ones who value integrity absolutely will... and they will far outnumber the ones who don't so do not remain discouraged. Simply note where people are and set healthy boundaries accordingly.
All of the people that we work with locally in our personal ministries shop the same way we shop as do many of our monthly partners. It's certainly not any sort of requirement, but it's because there is a healthy respect and honest love between all of us. Since we trust each other in Kingdom of God matters, trusting in stuff like hand soap, shampoo and vitamins is a given. And remember, no one just blindly joined with us, each and every person tested the stuff out for themselves and made their own decision to change the way they shopped. We honor them not because they shop like we do, but because they have kept their word.
In short, not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to be honest with you. Not everyone is going to believe you and in fact, some will flat out reject you. Don't be surprised when these same people who dodge your calls or even lie right to your face about shopping will then go to church with you, hug you publicly and even pray over you for God to bless you. My advice is to let God handle it. Mark them in your own heart and mind and when they reveal their own lack of integrity like that, don't share anything deeper with them anymore...after all, they're not going to believe you anyway.
Remember, we are all called to love everyone, but trust only a very few as God reveals trustworthiness in others to you. The biggest single difference in people is who they trust. Their wealth, their education, often their very habits are all a direct result of who they trust. Not trusting you when you are moving in integrity and trying to help them truly is their own loss... so pray for them and thank God as you pray for "the Reveal".
As a final note, if you would like a free overview and the chance to understand better what we offer to folks we value around us, email me a phone number and a good time to call. You have my public promise to try and move with as much integrity as I am able to in helping you.
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