Got Potential?

You bet you do. You were created for a unique and eternal purpose.

Got Potential? header image 2

Why Am I Doing This?

May 13th, 2010 · 2 Comments

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart …” (Jeremiah 1:5)

I missed sending out a ‘Purpose Weekly’ letter last week. Elaine and I went away for four days so I could write … ironic, isn’t it? There’s a book I’ve been putting off for a while now and the story is going to outrun me if I don’t get on it, so I did. I got a good start last week – at least I got a good idea of a good start. I’ll keep you posted.

Speaking of books, I don’t know if I ever told you why I started True Potential Publishing, Inc. six years ago, or this ‘weekly’ newsletter almost four years ago (wow! … has it been that long?). If I’ve already told you the story, humor me, I’m going to tell it again.

Elaine and I were married in 1982 and we moved to South Carolina, Elaine’s home state, in 1983. The day we arrived at our new home, a 1930’s frame farmhouse with no heat (I’m lying; it had electric baseboard heaters in the main room, we just couldn’t afford to turn them on) with all of our worldly possessions in a U-Haul trailer and one month’s rent paid in advance, I tallied up our cash reserves which came to a grand total of just under fifty bucks, plus a collection of around 2,000 pennies in a Sparklettes bottle. I didn’t even want to think about the credit card debt we hadn’t figured out how to pay off.

We were real close to broke, in a new (for me) place, no job, no skills, no prospects. Two weeks later, after we had just blown through our penny stash, I landed a job cleaning carpets on nights and weekends. It wasn’t steady but it put gas in the tank and bought meager groceries. Several months later Elaine’s dad, Monroe, set me up with an interview for a job at a manufacturing plant. I had never seen the inside of any sort of manufacturing plant and I think the guy was just trying to do Monroe a favor. I got hired at $3.50 per hour and was told to show up on Monday and find a place on the floor to fit in. It was a start. I believed if I could just get my foot in the door, I’d figure things out. Elaine got a job in accounting at Montgomery Ward (remember them?); we put our heads down and went to work.

Twenty years later we raised our heads to look around. I still worked in a manufacturing plant (two, actually), but now my name was on the door, and on the mortgage. Elaine was still in accounting but it was our money she was counting. And I had stopped saving pennies a long time back. We weren’t rich by a lot of standards, but compared to that first South Carolina afternoon in 1983 we felt like Warren Buffet and family.

Like I said, we looked up. For the first time in twenty years we asked ourselves why we were doing this. We knew the answer in the beginning – survival. But survival hadn’t been an issue in a while and we just forgot to stop working. There had to be a new reason why we were doing this – was it success? I guess a lot of folks would call it success; it sure looked that way from the outside. But for us it didn’t feel that way on the inside. There were no reasons why we were doing what we were doing that were good enough for us to keep doing it. What we were doing and the reasons for doing it didn’t mean anything – at least they didn’t mean enough. That day we decided to sell the company and the buildings and do something that meant something.

But what?

At eighteen the notion got into my head that I wanted to be a publisher. I had no background, no education, as far as I knew, no talent. I had no idea what function a publisher actually performed. I liked to write (I thought I liked to write – one actually has to begin writing to know for sure) but that was about it. I had this vague eighteen year-old concept of the glamorous and fulfilling life of a publisher, based on nothing more than … well, based on nothing.

By the time I reached forty-six I had scraped together an education and had gained some quasi-experience writing through my sporadic journal entries over the last twenty-five years. I still had no clue as to what a publisher actually did for a living but the hankering had never left me. We were going to stop manufacturing and start publishing! Good luck.

My work experience over the previous twenty-years had ended up with me spending a lot of time in sales. And to be a good salesman, I studied all the popular sales literature and listened to all of the success tapes. These ‘motivational’ guys all had their own twists on the subject of ‘human potential’, but when I boiled it down, it was pretty much the same message – ‘get what you can, get as much as you can; try to be happy (or at least comfortable) in the process, and if possible, try to make your family happy too’ (it’s funny – a lot of the success guys I studied were working on their third or fourth marriage – I guess they hadn’t perfected the ‘make your family happy too’ part). In a lot of ways their ‘success’ message was okay, but like my job, it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t interested in their personal patented version of success and their funky, vague, new-age concept of human potential; I was looking for the real meaning of success – true potential.

True Potential? …hmmm – maybe we’ve got something here.

Anyway – that’s how it started. I would research ‘True Potential’ and write a book on what it means to be truly successful. Now, almost six years later we’ve got us a publishing company (not big – about forty titles and a half-dozen authors) but still no book on ‘True Potential’ – and it’s not the one I started writing last week.

But that’s about to change, and we’re going to start right here. There are, as near as I can understand, about twelve facets of a truly successful life. And really there are only two that are essential – the other ten are bonuses that make the relatively short time (eternally speaking) we spend on this planet more productive for you and more pleasant for those around you. For the next twelve weeks – I promise not to skip – we’ll touch each of these facets of “True Potential’, starting with the most important first.

I’ll give you a hint for next week: read Deuteronomy 6:5.

Until then, be blessed (you really are, you know?)


Tags: God's purpose · success

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Elaine Neace // May 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Dear Steve, I quoted your father today. He said that we war against not only the world, the flesh, and the devil, but against carnal Christians. His words return to me again and again that I might minister his wisdom to others. You are doing the same things. You are following your destiny. Please give me kindest regards to your godly Mother and wife.

  • 2 John and Angie Hindmarsh // May 14, 2010 at 1:21 am


    I/we are really looking forward to these next weeks with True Potential. Having been in banking for four years, then ministry for 35 years and now a Director of a business for the last 5 years (I have discovered a lot of peers who were in ministry are facing this scenario and new journey as well). By the way I know we are all full time Believers and I’m not creating the secular/spiritual divide by saying business and ministry – it’s just to explain. I too have looked at and read many of the “business” books for personal improvement and maximum achievement – but I am excited at what the next 12 weeks will unfold. Go for it – and don’t spare the punches!!! Every Blessing, John and Angie

Leave a Comment