My dad, who has successfully run his own business for over 30 years, likes to say: “If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn’t be doing this.” Now obviously, he has done a lot of things right over the years: made enough money to raise 6 kids on one salary with his wife at home, employed dozens of people, provided valuable and honest service to customers all over the Detroit Metro area – including Barry Gordy, Lee Iococca, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., Charlie Gehringer, Alan Trammell, and Steve Yzerman to name a few. But what makes him successful where so many others have failed, in Detroit especially, is his humility.
I take no small satisfaction in knowing that his business, Take Away Trash Service, required no tax-payer bailout to continue its operations during the most recent economic down-turn, or for that matter, any recession since Richard Nixon. Maybe that’s because recession, for us, represented no deviation from the norm, and in point of fact actually gave our family business some odd advantage. He liked to joke, each winter, about how the cold months were our Great Depression. My dad was hungrier, and thus worked harder (if not always smarter) than almost everyone else I knew. He adapted. He was fluid. He rowed with flow, rolled with the punches – all clichés that I should not use as a writer, but which when coming from his mouth as they often do, capture with perfect pitch the secret of his unique form of humility and hard work.
On many levels, Whetstone is a business venture, and you have the opportunity to join us at ground level, to lay brick and mortar. Yes, it is non-profit (and all donations are tax-deductible by the way); but in order to survive and thrive, we must provide a valuable service at an affordable cost. We are prepared to do just this. We have a plan – a good one, which many of you have received in the mail; and if you haven’t, I urge you to send us an email with your mailing address or to visit our website where you can download a copy from the homepage.
But it is not our plan that will make us successful. It is not our passion for the work, or the money we raise, or our 30 years of combined experience of working with young people. It is our trust in God and in his providence. It is our total dependence on him that will lay a lasting foundation. We covet your prayers in this regard.
According to I Cor. 8:1-2: "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know." In other words, if we knew what we were doing, we wouldn’t (necessarily) be doing this.
And that, through faith, is why doing it matters.