Around tables with team members from across the globe, Nick Caine, CEO of A21, addressed us like a father.
He told us how great we were doing. In spite of budgets and obstacles, we have thrived in another year of fighting against slavery.
“If you want a bland, boring, and beige life, this isn’t the job for you. If you don’t want to be here, we will gladly transition you out and pray you thrive wherever you go. But if you want to change the world and live by faith, you will always have a place on this team.”
A man of limited words, he doesn’t say much. I guess when you’re married to a woman of Greek descent who talks at warp speed, you learn to maximize impact with minimal words.
He kicked off the global gathering and opened the door for team members to share what they are doing in their corner of the world. In TED-style types of talks, I discovered how truly amazing A21 is and the people who make our organization stellar. My presentation was only suppose to be 12 minutes but I’m pretty sure I went over (my inner preacher came out) when I opened with the story of me crying at my desk and telling Christine that I wasn’t cut out for this job.
“I have no educational training for this. I’m not an expert in human trafficking protocol. I have no budget to do what we need to do,” I said through muddled sobs.
Towards the end of the presentation I candidly shared with my coworkers that I have an expression I use at the office when we are called upon to do the impossible. There are times Christine or Nick challenge us to make something out of nothing. Friends, the only person who can do this is God! So I joke around and say that we have to make water into wine when projects seem impossible and channel our inner Jesus to perform the miraculous.
I jokingly said that there are times when Nick makes me want to run my head into a wall or pray for a case of Ebola to take my life because of the demands placed on our team feel overwhelming. The room laughed.
But Nick interrupted my presentation with a question while sitting in his chair at the front table: “Yes, Bianca, but are you better because of it?”
The question hung in the air like a tennis ball grazing the top of the net in an unexpected volley from the deep backcourt.
In a slow-motion lapse of time I thought of the time I stayed up until 4:00am working on a global initiative launch,
or the time I nearly killed an intern overseas,
or the time I mishandled a massive relationship and nearly lost a deal,
or the time I had to do an airport run, coffee run, and dry cleaning run for him on the same day.
And in a whisper of a response, I said yes.
I paused and said it with greater confidence. “Yes, I am better because of it.”
And I meant every word because that’s life. Life is comprised of moments of difficulty that reveal to us our strength and true depth in the face of trial. We don’t remember the moments of ease. We aren’t changed when nothing is at stake. We won’t grow unless the heat of the sun causes us to break through the darkness of dirt.
The tension of being told no, or cutting a budget, or canceling a project forced me to submit even when I didn’t want to, but I learned the fruit of obedience. When you’re forced to find a way, you always do. And when you look back over the hard soil you toiled over, you’ll see a harvest of fruit you never knew was possible. Yeah, kinda like turning water into wine.
The admission of this truth caused me to reflect on the fact that whether or not I enjoyed the process, I am a better person because of it. We all are. The pain of producing reaps of harvest of fruit. Even when you think your labor is in vain, know that in due season you will reap a harvest.
And when Nick Caine asks you if you’re better because of it, you can respond with the answer he already knew: Yes, I’m are better because of it.