This is part of a series called 24 Days of Thankfulness. These posts are in RANDOM order, NOT priority order. Each is something I am thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving.
DAY #10: Steves
There are three “Steves” that I am thankful for. Each has played a critical role in my ministry success. One I already blogged a tribute to after he recently passed away, Steve Jobs: On The Passing of Steve Jobs
But there are two other Steve’s that probably will never be famous. One deserves a lot of credit for the founding of Kidology.org – though few have ever heard his name, the other deserves a lot of credit for keeping it going.
There was a time when Kidology was a hobby of mine and I prided myself with being a “man of vision.” I often would say, “It is better to dream too big and have God cut it back, than to dream too small and have God frustrated with you because there is so much more He wants to do through you that you are unwilling to see.” I loved to talk of grand visions of what was possible! And “thinking outside the box!”
Then, through some unique situations in his life, God brought Steve Clindaniel to my church for a season. A humble, quiet guy, who I like to tell people is the only common denominator between the nations two largest mega-churches, Willow Creek and Saddleback, since he attended and served as a volunteer in both in their infancy when he worked for Hewlett Packard years ago, and his work had him on opposite ends of the country every other weekend, and he was drawn to these young churches. Incidentally, he was the volunteer who registered www.willowcreek.org and got a little flack from Bill Hybels for spending church money on such a silly thing! (Such were the days back then!)
Anyway, he volunteered to help me in Kids Church and learned about my little website and as he learned of my “big vision” for Kidology – he was the first person who had the nerve to say to me, “I don’t hear a big vision, I hear nothing but excuses and obstacles from you. I hear only what you can’t do. I want you to REALLY create a vision for me of what Kidology ought to be.” I was stunned. No one had ever challenged me like that! He asked to see my business plan. I said, “A what?” LOL Then he coached me through creating a business plan and how to present it to an investor and how to properly launch a business, within one year we had seed money, advertised in Children’s Ministry Magazine, exhibited at the Children’s Pastor’s Conference, rebuild our website properly, hired our first employee, opened an office and took huge leaps of faith that scared me to death. We even incorporated as a non-profit 501c(3) and formed a board of directors. It was time to ger real. The hobby phase was over. Steve Clindaniel dared me to REALLY DREAM and put action behind my words. Those of you who send me kind thank you notes about how thankful you are to ME for all that you benefit by from Kidology.org owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Clindaniel, a man you may never meet, and he likes it that way. Such is his godly character. But when you get to heaven, before you look me up, find Steve, and shake HIS hand first. Because he saw what I was doing at my church, heard my vision, and believed in me and pushed me so that I could minister to you all over the globe via Kidology.org.
As an added bonus, Steve introduced his nephew to our Kids Church to help in the tech booth – a young man who turned out to be a technical genius. He was my first Kidology employee, first uploading PDFs of kids church lessons, then helping create ToyBoxTales.com, and is now Kidology’s IT Director…. Branden Stuck.
Then, there is the Steve that keeps Kidology.org running and constantly improving, Steve Tanner… known to many as Tannerman. Though, around Kidology, we have coined a phrase for things that have been benefited from his masterful touch. Things are either “Tannerized” or not. I create a page or a product and then ask Steve to “Tannerize” it. Basicly, that means to perfect it. If it’s not Tannerized, it’s not quite up to snuff.
Steve was Kidology’s first full time employee and remains our only full time staff member. We have nearly a dozen part-time employees and contractors who help with a wide variety of tasks that must be done to keep this massive operation spinning, and Steve and I somehow manage to keep it all going. While his title is Director of Web Operations, I ought to call him the Mad Hatter, as that role can end up wearing a lot of different hats at times, and I’m often wondering if I am driving him mad! (or at least, mad at me!) When he first interviewed he described himself as a “Swiss Army Knife of Technology” which has proved to be a perfect description of him, since there really isn’t anything he can’t do. Whenever we are out, I often tell people, “Name any random subject and Steve will tell you something about it you never knew. He is the expert on everything. I once said ‘peanut butter’ and got the inside scoop on the peanut butter industry. Another time I tried to do research ahead of time on a topic online (AFL), to impress him with my knowledge on a topic, and he corrected me. I argued, he said I was wrong. I finally revealed my source – the official AFL website – he said the website was wrong! Later, it proved the official website of a franchise sport was indeed wrong, and Steve was right on the fact. I was doomed to be wrong, even with advance preparation! But at least this guy’s on MY team!
So three Steves are critical to the success of Kidology – Steve Clindaniel help found the company, Steve Jobs provides many of the tools we create it with and Steve Tanner keeps it running and improving.
Today, and I am thankful for Steve’s!