No credit check but the check in my spirit made me nauseous
Dan MillerDan is the author of the New York Times best-selling 48 Days To The Work You Love , No More Dreaded Mondays and Wisdom meets Passion. He has been a guest on CBS' 'The Early Show,' MSNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Mathews,' Moody MidDay Connection, and the Dave Ramsey Show. Dan has spoken at the White House Christian Fellowship, and is in high demand at national conferences on aging and changes in the workplace, and at universities and churches. Over 130,000 people have subscribed to his weekly newsletter, his 48 Days Podcast consistently ranks in the top 3 under Careers on iTunes, and the 48Days.net business community is viewed as an example around the world for those seeking to find – or create – work they love. Committed to personal priorities, Dan and his wife Joanne have celebrated their 45th anniversary and have 3 world-changing children and 12 amazing grandchildren.
- 2015 Mar 16
After spending a night with a client in Chattanooga recently Joanne and I continued driving south to Florida. We tend to wander when we travel and found ourselves on the southwest side of Atlanta in a section away from the freeway when I started to notice a massive number of similar signs:
- Rent to Own
- No Credit Check
- Title Max Loans
- Pawn Shop
- $799 down for any car
- Checks cashed here
- Tax refunds fast
- Take charge of your life – title loans
It went on for a couple of miles. And I thought, why is there such a concentration of ways to take advantage of poor people in one spot? There seemed to be a thorough blend of ethnicities there but it was also clear we were in a very poor socio-economic area.
I’m sure you know that at the base of the Statue of Liberty there is a plaque with this famous quotation:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
And I guess we’ll take those tired and poor and make them even poorer.
I know much of my sensitivity to this comes from an embarrassing part of my own history. In 1988, while recovering from a colossal financial mess, I took a position as a commission-only sales rep for a “school” that was providing training programs for people in areas like travel agent, medical billing, front desk receptionist, dental assistant, paralegal and truck driving. Even back then I had a strong desire to help people find more meaningful and profitable work. The students got a set of workbooks and could do nearly all the work just from home. We had access to plenty of Pell Grants to give the students an initial cash bonus – but they also signed on for over $2000 in student loan debt. I went to the poorest neighborhoods in Nashville and signed people up left and right, convinced I was helping them get a fresh start in new careers. I won big screen TVs, luggage, restaurant gift cards and exotic trips – in addition to my $10,000+ monthly commissions.
And then enough time passed where students should been churning out with new jobs, increased income and greatly improved lives.
But that wasn’t happening. Few ever completed the easy, fill-in-the-blanks homework. Fewer still even applied for their three week residency training. A handful got all the way through. One of those was a young gal who I then helped with a job interview. She had a pleasing personality and was hired as a travel agent in Brentwood, TN. The morning of her first day I called her to congratulate her and ask how her day was going. She was at home. She told me she missed the bus to her job. I was aghast – but not as much so as when she continued. She had decided that it was just too much work to get to the bus – and in addition, she had discovered that with her $12/hour job, some of her current benefits would be reduced. She would be expected to pay something for her apartment – and with all things considered she decided she’d just keep things as they were.
When I started to look at the real results of my enrolling these students in this training I was mortified. I was giving them an easy enticement – but luring them into debt that they would never be able to repay. And their lives were not better as a result.
I remember clearly the morning the gravity of what I was doing hit me. I was reading in Proverbs, as I do every morning. That particular morning was the 22nd of the month as I was reading in Chapter 22. In verse 16 it says:
“One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.” Proverbs 22:16 (NIV)
That verse hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought I was going to throw up. I had read that verse many times before – but this time it stopped my in my tracks. I was oppressing the poor to increase my wealth.
I was digging my way out of my own financial mess and the income I was making I could have considered a God-send. But I knew immediately what I needed to do. I called the national office and gave 30 days notice that I would be leaving. I never enrolled another student. I had seen the reality of what I was doing and could not continue.
“Hey 48 Days Team (and Dan)! My name is Bjork Ostrom. My wife and I have taken to heart the messages of 48 Days and No More Mondays by creating an income around our passion. I read your books a few years ago and they planted the “idea seed” that would eventual grow into the belief that we could monetizing my wife’s food blog, Pinch of Yum. We now net between $6,000 and $8,000 a month from the blog. We also launched a membership site to help others learn how to do the same. The membership site is just over 6 months old and is earning around $2,000 a month. The concepts that you teach allowed us to “think difference” about how life and work happen. Thanks, Dan, for helping to inspire us to pursue passion, purpose, creative income and giving back.” Bjork and Lindsay
“I want you to know that your book and message have changed my life. I read 48 Days to the Work You Love last April while finishing my Master’s degree. Your book helped me identify my transferable skills, market myself, identify companies to work for, and hone my interviewing skills. Since then, I have been offered professional jobs with 6 different companies! I feel like I am on top of the world. Your book and message have made a lasting impact on me and my family. Thank you for helping us. I am recommending your book to everyone I tell about my new job. God’s Blessings on you and your work.” -Paul
I trust you are doing work that brings value to others – that enriches them in every way.
Check out the three free videos we just produced to help you identify where you can do that best: 48Days.com
And leave your comments about your experiences in serving the poor well.
Dan is the author of the New York Times best-selling 48 Days To The Work You Love , No More Dreaded Mondays and the newly released Wisdom meets Passion. He has been a guest on CBS' 'The Early Show,' MSNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Mathews,' Moody MidDay Connection, and the Dave Ramsey Show. Dan has spoken at the White House Christian Fellowship, and is in high demand at national conferences on aging and changes in the workplace, and at universities and churches. Over 130,000 people have subscribed to his weekly newsletter, his 48 Days Podcast consistently ranks in the top 3 under Careers on iTunes, and the 48Days.net business community is viewed as an example around the world for those seeking to find – or create – work they love.