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Guest Writer

Divine lessons in community-based marketing
What would Jesus do?
by Carolyn Campbell

uring a recent workshop, a client shared a picture from the New York Times Magazine. It showed Jesus shaking hands with bankers.

After scoffing and sneering – bemoaning the contemporary corporate culture – I started thinking. We can debate the politics of religion, the myth of Christ and the commercial co-opting of Christmas for the rest of humankind.

Instead, I found myself wondering what would Jesus have done. And I realized, yes, he would have met with the bankers, robe and all!

Over the next couple weeks I heard numerous spiritual leaders, artists and therapists discuss the inappropriateness of promoting their work. I realized that if Jesus lived in our time, many would still frown upon his unabashed out-there style.

I continued thinking about his approach. Jesus was a brilliant community builder. An engaging communicator. He was willing to step over the line of correctness. I took some time to consider the key elements that made him so effective.

For those who want to strengthen your impact, here's my invitation: Step back from your particular feeling about religion and consider Jesus's ability to build a community around his work.

1. He went where his people were
Jesus walked. A lot! He hung out where people engaged in their daily life. In the marketplace. Weddings. Community baths. The temple. The guy showed up everywhere. When something was happening, he was there. He participated. And, by showing people he was interested in their lives, he became one of their community. They knew and trusted him.

Where do you hang out? If you're doing work that asks people to expose their vulnerability, especially in business, it's critical that they know you and believe that you really can be trusted.

2. His message was simple, interactive and engaging
Jesus excelled at engaging his audience. How? He incorporated stories into his speeches. Whether raising Lazarus from the dead, participating in wedding feasts or breaking bread at the Last Supper, Jesus created interactive moments so people could experience his message. The messages were visual and visceral and, at times, tweaky. People couldn't wait to tell others.

Next time you prepare to speak consider how you might use stories and interactive moments to deepen learning while moving people forward in an active, meaningful way.

3. Controversy is good
Controversy is at the heart of Jesus's success. What made him extraordinary, though, was the ability to detach from controversy and engage with compassion.

So often, I watch people give "polite" presentations. Allowing a passionate point of view stirs interest and promotes connection. The result? Some will be moved by your message. Others, not. Some may even judge you.

The good news in today's world is that, although passionately sharing your vision can be unnerving, no one is hung on a cross.

4. A strong support team is a must
Knowing that he couldn't make it through the hard times without support, Jesus surrounded himself with people who challenged, questioned and pushed him. Even the doubters had roles. Allowing them to voice their uncertainties gave Jesus opportunity to understand the fears and concerns of his potential audience.

If everyone is putting you on a pedestal or, conversely, patronizing you, you risk swinging out of reality and losing your ability to connect with those you set out to serve. Having an assertive, diverse team that believes in you enough to challenge you will dramatically increase your effectiveness.

5. Use all available resources to spread your message
This is where Jesus truly rocks! By himself, his outreach was limited. So he used all methods of the day to spread his message. In addition to speaking, he unapologetically asked others to speak for him. Plus, by teaching others he increased his credibility and expanded his ability to reach further into the world.

What about you? What people, organizations, media and Internet connections could increase your reach? The key: partner with people around an idea, rather than asking them to advertise you.

6. Invite imperfection
Even in the midst of unimaginable betrayal, Jesus honored imperfection. He didn't just accept failure, stumbling and bumbling, he invited it, using it as lessons for the future.

Plus, he didn’t try to be nice. He allowed the full range of himself to show up – his joys, his sorrows and, yes, even his anger. It's refreshing when someone shows us their humanness. How do you allow your fullest self to connect with people? What happens when you do?

7. Take time to reflect
You probably don't have time to go to the desert for 40 days and nights, but it's critical to take time to reflect on a regular basis; I recommend at least once a month, with a yearly retreat to focus on your big picture. Find a quiet place without distraction. Take time to meditate, reflect and plan.

Reexamine what you are doing and with whom. Consider if it's what you are intending to do. If not, stop. Find assistance to get you back on track. Call on your supporters.

8. Dare to imagine
Let the mission of your vision grow and expand with time. Keep asking, how can I serve today? Tomorrow? Next year? Twenty years from now?

Or, for some, maybe even 2,000 years from now?

Next time Carolyn examines the black hole of fear and how to move beyond its grip.

Carolyn Campbell is a life vision and leadership coach in Portland. Read her previous work in our archives, check out her profile in Sketch Pad, visit her Web site, e-mail carolyn@thecoresource.com, or give her a call at 503-493-9497.

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