On Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 7:33 AM, David Parkerson <email@example.com> wrote to the staff:
The Orlando Fair this year was especially good. We had more people come up who already knew about us from a friend, it seems, than in any of the previous years. This is a good sign because word is spreading now, like it did in TN. Friends are recommending HLA to friends.
But for the ones who had never heard of HLA I decided to run my own private little experiment. I noticed that when I spoke out to a passerby with a desire to get them enrolled in my heart my efforts nearly always fell short. They always responded to my list of HLA benefits with far less enthusiasm than I was using to deliver them. I ended up feeling like a salesman and I'm sure they ended up feeling like a costumer, even if they did finally decide to take a brochure. But when I immediately began to ask a parent questions about themselves and their children, never once even mentioning HLA, the results were amazing! Every single time, at some point in the course of telling me their whole life story, they would look up at our banners and ask me, "So, what is it you all do?" I mean every single time. And after telling them what we did, and then going back to hearing the rest of their homeschool journey, I was left with the feeling I was a minister and they were a friend. Most of them were very enthusiastic and many of them took several extra brochures for their friends. It became obvious once again (because I've done this several times before to remind myself why were are doing what we do) that when we want them to listen they are turned off. When we decide to listen they are thrilled.
On the way home from the FL this weekend I listened to an audio book by Dale Carnegie entitled, "How to Win Friends and Influence People." I don't like the title. I've avoided the book for sometime because of the title. But it came recommended to me by a trusted friend so I gave it a whirl. Amazing book. It definitely has the wrong title. The title should be, "How to Forget about Yourself for a Minute and Learn to Listen to Someone Else for a Change: The Art of Taking a Real Interest in People." Well, that's too long, of course. And a title like that wouldn't sell. It doesn't appeal to the reader's desire to get what they really want, "Friends!" But the truths Carnegie fleshes out are simply the ones Christ himself teaches us. Carnegie just gives illustration after illustration as to how putting other's needs in front of our own almost always returns to us ten fold. We must learn to appreciate others. But their is a difference in flattery and appreciations he says. Flattery is universally frowned upon. While appreciation is universally craved.
Anyway, all this to say, I feel rejuvenated and refocused by this trip and the things God is showing us. I want to make a new commitment to take time with people. People in the office and people on the phone. I believe, no… I know, the work will get done. My tendency is to rush through the day and miss the people around me and those enrolled with HLA. But people are exactly why God has us just where he wants us.
You are a great brother, father, husband, friend. God has look upon you with favor. He will continue to keep you, bless you and encourage you. May we be blessed by your continued friendship, and may God keep you and your family for generations to come always.
This is a wonderful testimony of how God moves and how He works through His able ministers – us!! You are so right, David – people are drawn to HLA because we are a ministry, first and foremost, and they need ministering to. When we meet that need, they feel that God has led them to HLA, they are so blessed, and then they tell all their friends. At curriculum fairs, esp, they do not want another sales pitch!
When I was talking to a lady in Nashville, she said that she could feel the Holy Spirit moving as we talked, and afterwards, as we were both almost in tears, she hugged me long and hard and said that she had been searching for such as school as HLA, but had almost given up. When we stop ministering to the families, we will become just another umbrella school – that is truly what sets us apart. And it all started with your wonderful heart to do that!!! We are all very thankful, as well as our families.
Now this brings tears to my eyes. We are SO blessed by our Father's heart — His is the heart for ministry to families. If we can just remember to seek Him and really go after Him for everything, He will always show us the answers. I am so encouraged today, not just from your responses, but because at this critical time of growth pains in HLA there are these questions: What about a receptionist, more office space, a better phone system, an online school, accreditation, more counselors, more states, an office manager? Can we really handle more students and not let go of ministry? And on and on. My head is swimming some days with the changes we need to make, and trying to figure out what would be best. And then I remember that God brought us this far by our faith and by our trusting Him to provide. Every person working for HLA was brought in by God. So I want to seek God for the next steps and renew our vision everyday to be in line with the heart of God — that is to Love people. We've done a great job so far. But I'm raising the bar for myself and for HLA — God's love is and always will be the answer. Parents can go through the homeschool motions, and we can help them do that; we do that quite well. But as you all agree there is more. So everyday I'm committing to praying again for our families. And I'm going to stuff this desire to figure things out, or cut a conversation short, or trust my own hands. Instead, I'm going start asking more often, by knocking on His door until He answers, and waiting on God to show us how to solve the problem and how to love with His heart and not my own.