I Know a Guy

Have you ever asked for a recommendation for something, like an electrician, a mechanic, an accountant or something else, only to get a response from a friend who says, “I know a guy.” Perhaps you’re the one who knows a guy and have recommended someone’s services to someone else.

Recently, I was meeting with my friend Vince, a Young Professional who shared a funny story. 

Vince is a Young Professional who is pursuing his passion to help teenagers succeed academically via his own tutoring business (vincecanhelp@outlook.com).

Vince was manning an informational table at church with another Young Adult named Wyat, whom he didn’t know. They started talking about the challenges they were facing in this post-college, single phase of life.

“It seems as if most churches are geared more towards families”, one of them said.

“True. Young Adults like us are often overlooked and under-served”, the other remarked.

“There is this one guy I know though, who seems to care about Young adults and has really helped me out.”

“Wait. You know a guy? I know a guy too. Who’s your guy? My guy is named Dave Lowe.”

“Dude…that’s my guy too! How do you know Dave?”

Scene from Ocean’s 11: “You know a guy?”

 

I love this story for many reasons. 

First, it confirms the unique challenges Young Professionals experience as they seek to find spiritual resources and mentors to help them navigate the unique challenges they face. 

Secondly, it shows the amazing power of networking, as I met both Vince and Wyat through a common connection they both had, though they didn’t actually know each other.

Third, it’s fun being thought of as “the guy” who cares about and ministers to the unique challenges of Young Adults. Actually, that is what we’re hoping for and trusting God to develop in our ministry.

Wyat is a recent graduate of UC Irvine, working as a Phlebotomist while he contemplates going to Medical School.

I was introduced to Vince last year through a mutual connection. When we met, I learned that Vince is from New York and received an appointment to West Point but opted instead to attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he received a degree in engineering. After working a few years for a big engineering firm, Vince decided to step out in faith to pursue his real passion, helping high schoolers succeed academically.

It turns out Vince is highly skilled at teaching young people just about any STEM subject you can imagine. He not only helps high schoolers improve in the classroom, but Vince is also proficient in helping teens boost their standardized test scores and navigate University Admissions processes.

Starting your own tutoring business can be extremely rewarding emotionally, but difficult financially. This is especially true for Vince, who not only supports himself, but is the sole provider for his mother.

Like any startup, increasing your client base and getting the word out is always a challenge.

Saul Goodman (from Breaking Bad): “Let’s just say I know a guy who knows a guy…..who knows another guy.”

 

Not long ago, I saw someone post on Nextdoor that they needed a recommendation for a tutor for their daughter, who was struggling in her Physics course. I was able to respond, “I know a guy”…and I shared Vince’s information.

When I met Vince, after sharing his humorous story about his interaction with Wyat, he thanked me for connecting me with the person from Nextdoor. He’s been tutoring this young woman and her understanding and test results have improved dramatically.

So if you find someone who needs help academically, you can say, “I know a guy” (vincecanhelp@outlook.com), or as Saul Goodman from the show Breaking Bad famously said, “I know a guy who knows a guy…”

And if you know a Young Adult who needs coaching or spiritual mentoring, you definitely “know a guy….and a gal.”

Please pray for Vince as he trusts the Lord to provide for his needs by growing his business, and pray for us as we seek to continue to serve the needs of Young Professionals in Orange County and beyond. 

LinkedIn, CBMC and Helping Young Adults Embark

I was recently invited to attend a quarterly breakfast for the Orange County Chapter of CBMC (Christian Businessman’s Connection). 

Marc Ottestad, the coordinator of the group, had connected with me via LinkedIn, thinking that our similar interests and passion for coaching, mentoring and seeing men make an impact for Jesus in their jobs might make for some natural opportunities to collaborate.

When I showed up at the breakfast, I noticed that most of the men were my age or even older. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how this breakfast might directly help me.

At one point, we were asked to shuffle tables to meet some new people and discuss what we heard from the speaker.

I found another table and ended up sitting next to the only guy in the room who was younger than 30.

I introduced myself to Alec and learned that he had recently graduated from Biola and was working at expanding a website business.

When Alec asked what I do, I shared that I help Young Professionals thrive spiritually and live with purpose.

Alec is a recent graduate of Biola University who is seeking biblical community while working to build and expand his website business.

I explained that my wife and I had spent many years ministering to college students but we made a shift in our ministry focus a few years ago because we had seen a void in Christian circles in serving the needs of Young adults, who are often struggling to find the kind of community and support that they need when they are undergoing the biggest changes and most stressful transitions of their life.

Alec’s response was both sad and affirming at the same time. He said, “you pretty much just summed up my current life situation.”

It’s sad that there seems to be so few resources and support for young professionals like Alec. I’ve spent many hours thinking through this issue, trying to determine why this is the case. 

My conclusions are not researched…they are just opinions, yet it makes sense to me.

If you think about it, most churches are built around a family model. Nearly every church serves the needs of families – from kids programs to youth events as well as support for parents and marriages.

This is an extremely good thing because, if you haven’t noticed, the traditional family unit, with biblical family values is under attack in our culture. The church may be the last bastion of hope to salvage a biblical understanding of the family unit.

But that same model works against Young Professionals, who are in a season where they have often left their family of origin and are yet to start a family of their own. They are in an in-between season of life – living on their own, learning to live as an adult with real-life responsibilities.

In this in-between phase, which is lasting longer for current 20-Somethings than it has for previous generations, they are looking for others like them with whom they can experience the struggles and transitions of becoming an adult.

Jen and I regularly connect with Young Adults who share their frustrations with attending churches where they struggle to find other Young Adults.

I have heard a number of church leaders tell me that a specific ministry meeting the needs of Young Adults is unnecessary. Citing the benefits of inter-generational worship and community, they contend that Young Adults should simply get involved in the life of the church,.

I believe this view is short-sighted. Research demonstrates that Young Professionals DO want mentors and they DO want to be involved in the life of the church. So in one sense, the idea of inter-generational worship and involvement makes sense. But a weekly men’s group cannot fill the void that’s lacking for many Young Adults – the need for a family-like experience with peers while they are in the season of single-ness.

We don’t have all the answers and we’re still learning best practices as we seek to minister to this audience. But we are seeking to fill the gap in various ways. 

After meeting Alec for lunch, I was able to connect him to a Leadership Development group that I recently launched. One of the guys in the group is also a Biola grad with whom Alec was acquainted. 

We’re also exploring the benefits of coaching. It may not meet all of Alec’s needs, but our hope is that it will provide a few missing elements that will help Alec, and others like him, to thrive spiritually and live with purpose during this season of life!

 

MacBooks, Craiglist and a Guy on Rollerblades

A few years ago, I listed a used laptop on Craigslist. I got an email from a guy named Hugo and I drove to a Starbucks near him to show him the computer.

A few minutes later a guy comes cruising by on rollerblades, and it turns out, it’s Hugo!

Hugo and I are connected on various social media platforms. Hugo is an active guy, who, in addition to roller-blading, loves the outdoors. 

We sat down and chatted for a few minutes and I learned that Hugo was a UCLA grad who knew some of the same people I knew who had been involved with Cru and Destino at UCLA.

Hugo ended up buying my computer and he and I kept in touch as he would occasionally contact me with computer related questions.

About a year ago, Hugo contacted me again because he had an issue with the computer I had sold him a few years back. We met up and I helped him fix his computer issue.

We were connected on Facebook and I would occasionally see Hugo’s posts about life. In a lot of ways, Hugo represents the typical Young Professional to whom we minister. He loves God and he’s passionate about the underprivileged and less fortunate.

After college, Hugo had to deal with school loans (and is now debt free!) yet hasn’t found his sweet spot professionally. Hugo has struggled to figure out exactly how he can best serve God and fulfill his life mission. He’s not quite sure what His unique calling is or how he can best leverage his talents, experience and passion into a life of purpose and meaning.

When we met up a year ago, I shared with Hugo about our ministry to Young Professionals and some of the specific opportunities we offer, but nothing concrete really materialized.

A few months ago, Hugo contacted me again. His computer had died and I later learned that he was nearing completion of his grad school application and everything he had worked on, including his personal statement, resume, letters of reference and the application itself were irretrievably lost. It was a moment of panic and anxiety as the application deadline was quickly approaching.

Hugo needed a computer fast in order to finish the application on time and he later told me that he decided to reach out to me as a “Hail Mary” attempt at locating an inexpensive computer. It just so happened that I had just listed each of the twins’ old MacBooks (the same model that just crashed for Hugo) on Craigslist. When I told Hugo about the laptops I had listed, he said it gave him a glimmer of hope that this incredibly stressful situation he found himself in might actually work itself out.

When we met up for the exchange, Hugo said, “a year ago, you were telling me about some opportunities you have for Young Professionals and I wanted to hear about those again if they’re still available.”

I was smiling inside because I had been wondering if I should mention to him again about my role in helping Young Professionals.

On Strava, I often see Hugo hiking, cycling and enjoying God’s amazing creation with friends!

Hugo and I have now met a few times for coaching and our conversations have been really encouraging.

Hugo has been very appreciative of the opportunity to connect, learn and grow. I’ve appreciated Hugo’s vulnerability and genuine willingness to allow me to come alongside him as he continues in his professional and spiritual journey.

If you think about it, please pray for Hugo. He’s been accepted into USC’s graduate program on Public Policy but is weighing whether the cost of the program will be worth the benefits the program will provide.

This is a common issue with Young Professionals as they navigate and deal with the high cost of higher education relative to the advantages and opportunities that education provides in our current environment.

I’m continually amazed at the many ways God orchestrates circumstances in order to fulfill His greater purposes in our lives. I love how even random events and situations, like selling an item on Craigslist, can lead to an on-going relationship and meaningful connection!

A Divine Appointment in a Grocery Store Parking Lot

I pulled into the parking lot at Stater Bros., a Southern California grocery store near our house. I needed to pick up just a few items and though I had intended to swing by much earlier in the day to avoid the after-work crowds, I had been delayed for reasons I can’t even remember.

As I got out of the car, I heard someone address me with the question, “Dave Lowe?”

Michael Acuna is a former Cal Poly, Pomona student and current assistant basketball coach at Bethesda University.

I looked to see a guy standing in front of my car wearing a mask, glasses and a hat. I didn’t recognize him immediately with all of his facial features covered. He had recognized me though before I parked because I wasn’t wearing a mask or hat until I got out of the car.

He realized I didn’t recognize him so he re-introduced himself.

“Michael Acuna….from Cal Poly, Pomona Destino.”

Michael is a guy I had connected with a number of years ago when Jen and I were in our Regional positions with the Cru campus ministry.

Michael was a student involved in Destino, our Latino focused campus ministry.

I hadn’t seen Michael in several years but we were friends on Facebook and Instagram and I would occasionally see posts from him online. As Michael updated me on his life, I learned that we live very close to each other.

I gave Michael an update on us, including our transition a few years from ministering to college students to focusing on Young Professionals. As I shared about some of the resources we provide, such as Leadership Development Groups and coaching, Michael’s eyes lit up.

“I could really use some coaching”, he responded.

Michael and I were able to exchange contact information and we’ve connected virtually a few times now to talk about how we can move forward in a coaching relationship.

My encounter with Michael is just another example of how God is always working behind the scenes to orchestrate events and work out His divine plans and purposes.

Michael and I taking a selfie in the Stater Bros. parking lot.

A few days ago I was reading in Mark 1, which starts off with these words: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ.”

What’s interesting though is that Mark doesn’t really talk about Jesus for another 8 verses. If the gospel is about Jesus and Mark is going to talk about the beginning of the gospel, why does he delay mentioning Jesus and instead spend 8 verses talking about an obscure verse in Isaiah, followed by a description of John the Baptist preaching and baptizing out in the wilderness?

It’s true that Jesus is the central figure of the gospel, but the story of the good news incorporates so much more.

This passage is a reminder that even before Jesus arrives on the scene, God the Father is working behind the scenes preparing people for the arrival of the king.

Henry Blackaby said it well in his popular book and workbook “Experiencing God” when he said, “God is always at work around us…”

It’s true. God is ALWAYS working, often in ways I’m not aware of. He’s orchestrating events and arranging circumstances to accomplish his purposes and ultimate plans.

This is why I don’t believe my chance encounter with Michael was accidental or coincidental. It was providential.

How about you? Who are the people and what are the circumstances God arranged to prepare you for the arrival of Jesus in your life?

If God can arrange circumstances to help you encounter Jesus, how might he be using your current situation and circumstances to  prepare you for something greater that you might not even be able to imagine at the moment?

In Philippians 1:6, Paul said that, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Before Jesus ever arrived on the scene of your life, God was working to prepare you. And now that you know Jesus, God is still working in you to bring growth and development and perhaps opportunities that you never dreamed of!

You can read more of my thoughts on Mark 1 on my January 13th entry of my DailyDevo blog.