Jessup Chapel: Eric Knopf (2019.03.15)


My name’s Eric. And that is a loud microphone,
I’m sorry if that’s my fault. Maybe not. All right, I’ll just keep going. I have social media you guys
want to connect, reach out, whatever. There’s my handle. I hate voicemails,
so if anybody’s going to reach out to me, you
will show your hatred for me by sending me a voicemail. So connect with me
on there if you want. But anyways, my
name’s Eric, and I’m going to share with you
today the greatest lie I have ever believed. I grew up in Portland,
Oregon on a 26 acre farm. Which, Portland, Oregon was
not the cool place it is today. Like, people move there,
and I’m like, why? It rains 300 days a year. I moved to California,
and I’m like, I don’t ever need to go back
there to live permanently. But I grew up there
on a 26 acre farm. And at a young age I was
cursed with the gift of ideas. And I say cursed because
when I have an idea I see it, I think about it,
I dream about it, and I become obsessed about it. And I get motivated and creative
for how to make it happen. And my favorite time as a child,
as a boy, and still is today, was motocross– riding dirt bikes in our fields
and creating big huge jumps. Now, the problem
with motocross is that it is horribly expensive. Nothing in this sport is cheap. And so I got creative– How do I support my
habit on this farm and pay for all these expensive
activities that I want to do? And so I would steal
corn from our backyard, and I’d go on the corner
street, and I’d sell corn there. I would tie fly fishing
flies and sell them to the guys at church. I’d buy broken down
ATVs and motorcycles and I’d sell the
individual parts to people. I eventually got
into graphic design and I would design
logos for people and brochures and things. And I was an entrepreneur at a
young age but I’d even know it. I actually didn’t even know
what the word meant at the time. And so at the age
of 17 or so, I was competing in a bunch of
local motocross races and having a great time. Now, I had grown up
in a Christian home. I had great parents, I
was exposed to church, but I would say I lived
a pretty mediocre faith. I wasn’t badly behaved, but
I wasn’t that great either. But one thing about me,
is, boy, could I swear. I had such a foul
mouth, especially in dirt bikes and motocross,
they’re not the most polished individuals, you know. And so, at the
motocross track, I mean, I could use the F bomb as
a noun, a pronoun, a verb, an adverb, an adjective,
and a preposition all in one sentence. It was a discovering of
spiritual gift at the time– no it really wasn’t. But this is who I was. I had this safe,
contained family life. And then I would go over
here and go these situations where I was a completely
different person. And so I, for whatever
reason, decided to put a Jesus fish
sticker on my dirt bike, which I know is
contradictory in many realms. But I was out practicing,
preparing for a big race, and there’s a few friends
and acquaintances there, we’re far off. And a guy, he was
just an acquaintance, he looked and he
was like, hey what is that Jesus fish sticker? I’ve actually been
curious about faith. And I’m busted. You know, I’d just
been running my mouth and saying awful things. And I was caught. There’s no way that I could
tell you about Jesus right after what I just said. And so I shrugged it off
as, like, oh just something I grew up with, my parents,
you know, whatever. He was like, no, like, I’m
really kind of curious, and he persisted. I’m like, no, I don’t have
any interest in telling you about my faith. This is not the time. And again, hey, no, like,
seriously, you know, is that legit? I was like no, no, no, I just– I’ll tell you later. And a pit filled my stomach. It’s like, too bad a a
rooster it and crow right then, because I
literally felt like Peter at this exact moment. And so the topic moved on, and
so we just kind of moved on. I just felt, like, terrible. And the next week, we’re getting
prepared for this big race. And the night before, I feel
like, man, I shouldn’t go ride. I know, I can’t explain it. I never was afraid. My friend went and raced. And that Sunday evening,
I get a phone call. And my friend, who had
been asking about my faith, he had a terrible crash in the
accident and got paralyzed. And so suddenly, all my fear,
and all my shame of my faith, got replaced with courage. And I went to his bedside
and I just confessed. I was like, Jesus is alive. Jesus is real. No matter how embarrassed
I was, he is real, he is the hope of this earth,
he is the hope of eternity. Would you know who he is? And so he received Jesus. And this was great, but this was
this turning point in my life, where all of a sudden, my
life was set on fire for Jesus at the age of 18. And then I enter college
and I’m on fire for Jesus. But I had this really, really
big problem all of a sudden– I didn’t know what
to do with my faith. I love Jesus, but I don’t
know what to do with my faith now, because what I
believed at the time is that if you really love
God, you go into ministry. Amen. [LAUGHTER] But I didn’t want to
become a missionary. I didn’t want to be a pastor. They were too boring. They don’t ride dirt bikes. I wanted to do pranks. I wanted to be silly,
I want to go surfing, I want to do crazy things. I just don’t– I’m sorry, the pastors I
knew, like– you don’t want to do fun things the pastors? Really? [LAUGHTER] The church is where you
go where people tell you what you’re doing wrong. I was like, I want
to go have fun. But more significantly
than that, I had this ravenous
passion for startups, for entrepreneurship, for
design, for marketing, for innovation, for technology. These were my passions. Now these are not the
terms you usually associate with Christianity or church. And in fact,
Christians are usually known for taking something
that’s really good, knocking it off, and making
something really cheesy. Of course we have GodTube,
you know, it’s like YouTube. No, we can’t just make our
own, we have to make GodTube. You know? It can’t be– you know,
Subway, it has to be Hisway. You know? And we take these things that
are cool in the marketplace and then Christians
make them suck. Like, what are we doing here? Not Gold’s Gym, it’s God’s gym. I mean, there’s
so many of these. And you go in– you’re a Christian bookstore,
you want to buy mints, right? You can’t just buy
a regular mint. No, they have to be
Testamints, right? [LAUGHTER] [SIGH] Shake my head. Can you blame me for not
wanting to go into ministry? But what I realized is that
my passions and giftings were incompatible with my faith. But the trajectory
of someone who really loves God, who’s
a passionate follower, the trajectory of that
person is for ministry. And this is where I believe
the most damaging lie of my entire life– that I must choose. Do I choose ministry? Or do I choose marketplace? It’s either or. This is the way I’d
come to believe it, that there are those
who are in ministry and then there are those
who pay for those people. The way I’d come to believe
it is that if you’re not in ministry then your
responsibility is to go earn the money to pay
for those who are, because you obviously
don’t love God enough. So there’s this
invisible line that we have drawn in our minds, that
we– supposedly in the kingdom, that we’ve made
serving God, really serving God, your sacrifices. All or nothing. Like, you’re either
fully in the ministry, you’re fully serving
and loving God, or you’re full heathen,
fully in marketplace. Because you can’t serve
both God and money, right? So, like, all right, so I
guess I’ll go serve money? This isn’t fair. I couldn’t decide. I just knew that
what ministry was offering me was incompatible
with my giftings and strengths. At least that’s what was for me. And so I decided that I can’t
let my ideas, my giftings, my passions, and strengths,
and entrepreneur spirit go to waste in ministry. And so I chose marketplace. And my responsibility–
I took it upon myself– I was just like,
all right, my role is to go make as
much money as I can and give it to people who
really love God more than me. And so with my mind made up,
my senior year of college, I started my very first company
called Vision Launchers. It’s a company that starts
companies– haha, figured it out. Taking all my passions of
design, technology, innovation, I’m going to help
all the people get their startups off the ground. And over the next five years, I
helped launch, grow, start over 200 startups in companies. So much fun. And during that time, my wife
and I start going to church. Now I’m like fully into, like– I’m in business,
this is my calling. And so we go to a
brand new church and it’s the very first service. And a bald man walks
up to me and says, hello, my name’s
Eric Waterbury, and I want you to know that you
have an anointing for ministry on your life. [LAUGHTER] OK. First, that’s weird. Second, you’re using words I
don’t even know the meaning of. And third, uh, you
got the wrong guy. It’s like, there’s no
such thing as prophecy, and, like, you know,
you’re bothering me in every dimension I know. You know? And so I just I completely–
like, what is that about? I just like completely
am terrified by it. And we just kind of move on. But those words,
they stuck with me. I was like, wow something
about those words, like, awoken something in me. So a couple of years later,
the economy takes a dive and I had a lot of spare time
because when the economy is in the dumpster, no one
wants to spend money to start new companies. Which is a problem when your
company starts companies. So I went to a couple
of nonprofit clients, and at the time I
asked them, what is your biggest
challenge, and headache, and what is something we
can fill our time with? And they said, the donation
process is really terrible. Like, how people donate,
it’s expensive, it’s clunky, it’s not customizable,
and all these things. I’m like, all right, cool. So we spent a few months trying
to build this new donation technology, widget,
software on the web. And so, we did it
and it really worked. Like to our surprisement. Like, we were like, that wasn’t
supposed to work that well. But they used it, they loved it. And so then I went
and was catching up with a friend in
Southern California. And his background was
in event promotion. He has run this
nationwide event series and taking out big
stadiums and doing events. And so, we’re catching
up and he’s like, what are you working on? I was like, I built this
little donation widget and it’s really doing great. And he’s like, oh,
that’s really cool. He was like, do you think you
can do something for an event? I was like, sure why not? You know, an event registration
is just basically a donation, you just don’t get to
pick the price, right? So yeah, why not? So we came together
and built a softer tool that was for events and
fundraising together. And we started– and we
started like, really small. Like, really small. [LAUGHTER] But over the years, we grew. We actually got a
legitimate office with a ping pong
table, and beer keg, and lots of other Christian
activities in there going on. And then, we grew some more,
and we rebuilt the software. And we added to our team,
and we rebuilt it some more. And we grew, and we
grew, and grew, and grew. And so, finally,
we’ve got that team. Actually, one more pass that. There– there’s us. And so over the years we
took this little, tiny thing, and all of a sudden. wow, we’ve got an
amazing company. And so today,
Webconnex, my company that I co-founder with
my friend, we power the events and fundraising
for some of the biggest brands in the world. Our first five years– it took us five years to process
$100 million for our clients. Right now, we process $100
million every two months. We do about $2 million
every single day through our software. And we service
40,000 organizations, and we’ve got a
staff of about 40. And we have no investors. We have no venture capital. We’ve got no debt. And we have this
really crazy thing that no one in software or
technology even has heard of– we’re profitable. It’s crazy. What do we do with our profit? We celebrate our employees. In fact, we take all of
our staff, their spouses, and their kids, and we
take them out of country. I don’t why I got
emotional there. This is fun! It’s probably because it’s the
reward to celebrate our people, and it’s such a privilege. These are the greatest
human beings I know, and I get to call them
friends and co-workers. But a funny thing happened
in the same exact time when I started this company. Back in the
dumpster-diving times of the economy when
everything was terrible, something happened. There’s that word that
Eric Waterbury spoke– he’s here by the way. That word was taken
root in me when he said, you have an anointing for
ministry in your life. And I’m like,
(LAUGHING) wrong guy. A few years later, I’m like,
wait, something is alive now. And so during that season when
we had no clients and no money, I thought, what would it
be like to, I don’t know, do ministry and marketplace? Why not? What do I have to lose? And so I started a
ministry called Epic Life. And this is from
John 10:10, it says that I’ve come to give you
life and life more abundantly, that life in Jesus
should be great. He didn’t come and say, I’m
going to come and give you life and it’s really going to suck. No, it’s epic life,
not lame life. We have hope and joy. We’ve got eternity. We are the hope of glory,
a city on the hill. He comes to give us great
potential for our lives to have a great impact here. And so sometimes I
look at, Christians are some the more
depressed people I know. [LAUGHTER] We should be the
most hopeful people. So I was ashamed
of my faith when I was around motocross riders. I want to make something cool. Let’s do really cool
things and let’s elevate what life in Jesus is like. And so what we made this
about is about transforming what you believe about you,
what you believe about God, and what you believe
your role on here is. That’s what Epic Life is. If you get those
three things lined up, you’re going to live
a powerful life. And so that was our aim. And so a couple of years into
that, Eric and I teamed up. I finally got, he was
right, this is kind of cool. But here’s the thing,
we did it as volunteers. We didn’t say no to our
vocation, or our jobs, and our professions. We’re like, let’s add this. Let’s do this. And we’re not going to get paid. We had two people who
frankly had nothing to lose. And when you have nothing
to lose, you go for it. We had no other reason
that would hold us back. We were being provided
for by our professions. And so it allowed us to risk
in ministry without fear. And this is very powerful,
because usually you will only risk to
the degree that it will preserve your safety. You will not risk in
such a way that you surrender your stability,
your livelihood, the food on the table. Most of us, especially
in ministry, we’re not going to
take those chances. It’s too risky. And so we will risk to the level
that our fear will bring us to losing a job. And that’s the line. And this is called
the fear of man. And Galatians 1:10 says, if
I’m trying to please men, I’m not a servant of Christ. And so much of what I was
wrestling with ministry and just looking at
it as like, man, if I had to preach and teach
for a job, I’d be terrible. I would do anything
to keep people there, because my livelihood is
dependent upon my ministry impact. And so when we
decided, well, we’re going to do this and not have
any financial incentive, all of a sudden the
fear lifted, and we got to do some really fun
things in the process. We made a lot of big mistakes
and had some epic failures, but we had some epic wins too. A few of them is we built
a school in El Salvador. We have no construction
experience. I don’t know how that thing
got built, but it did. [LAUGHTER] We looked and said that
every single person has got a spiritual
gifting in them that needs to be awakened to them. And It’s called a
five-fold ministry. We built this little
software test for our people, and it’s been taken
now 250,000 times. 2,000 people a week
take this thing. We’ve discipled and equipped
hundreds of people, mostly through Eric Waterbury. I have preached,
shockingly, 400 sermons. I counted last night. That’s crazy. And the sermons have been
download almost 300,000 times in 170 different countries. We’ve built a social
media platform that reaches 300,000
people every single week. We host gatherings
around the region in Tahoe and different places. We developed start-ups
and helped entrepreneurs accelerate their growth. We even authored a theology
book, which is kind of fun. And we created
tools and resources that are being used
around the world. So again, we’ve had some
epic wins and successes, but man have we had
some epic failures. Now I joke, I’ve
preach 400 sermons. But man, I probably
should’ve been fired during the first 200,
because they were terrible. And the only reason I
kept going was because I didn’t have a job to lose. The poor people who
suffered through them. But that’s how it kind of goes. You start, and I need
to figure this out. I’m going to get better. But I need a place to start. And so we are the living
proof that you can do ministry and marketplace. It doesn’t have to be
this either or thing. But as a teacher I just
can’t help but give you a couple, tiny, little
lessons to anybody in here who’s thinking
about maybe you want to do ministry and marketplace. I have a couple
quick things I want to share with you about
how to think about this and a couple of things to know. And the first one is this– surround yourself with people
who see what’s inside of you. Surround yourself with people
who see what’s inside of you. You want to have people
around you who call you to a higher level of living than
what you will do by yourself. If you don’t have
someone in your life who’s made you mad recently
because they called you to a higher standard, you’re
living a very safe existence. You will never do anything
greater than your comfort zone as long as you surround every
single person around you that’s like, oh, that’s cool, yeah. All in God’s timing. Awesome. No! Not in all God’s timing! It’s like, hey, get your
stuff together, man! You’re meant for more than this! Just say, I love you enough
to have you be mad at me, because your destiny
depends on it! You need someone in your
life that’s like that. And you seek out people who
have that experience, who love you enough and who you
give permission for them to tell you no and to
tell you you’re wrong. Are the people around
you speaking life into, or are they cutting you down? Number two– reasonableness
can kill your calling. Reasonableness can
kill your calling. The devil will often persuade
you out of kingdom ideas by reasonableness. Oh, I just need more training. I need to get a few more
letters after my name. Oh, I need to have
more equipping, or maybe it’s really costly,
or someone’s already doing it– it’s very similar– or it requires more
time than I can give. We have all these
reasonable expectations that the devil uses
in our minds to keep us suppressed so we never do
anything of any significance. You see, God is not looking
for people who have safe, contained plans. No, he’s looking
for us people who have bold, courageous faith. See, faith is the defiance
of reasonableness. Faith is not reasonable. Faith is what it is
for the exact reason that it calls you
to something higher, something that intimidates
you and calls you to something greater than what you
would normally do. Number three is step out now. There will never
be a perfect time. If you wait for your
schedule to open up for when you’re ready
to step out for God, it will never happen. All the devil needs to
do is keep you busy. And don’t tell me
you don’t have time. Mister I binged watch
Netflix last night, don’t tell me you
don’t have time. [LAUGHTER] You totally have time. It’s just a matter of what you
want to give up for that time. I do full time ministry
and marketplace. It means I’m really disciplined
in the areas of my life. I’ve got the same amount of
hours in the day as you do, I just choose what are the
things I can, and cannot do. And I sacrifice maybe
the veg-out time for times I’m going to press in. I disciplined my
morning routine. I don’t spend a lot of
time preparing messages. All I do is I wake up an hour
early every single morning and write whatever God tells me. I read, and I put
down some thoughts. And then an opportunity
to speak comes, and I just look at what
has God been saying to me? OK, let’s go with that. It’s really not that hard. But saying yes always
requires you to say no. But what we do is we get
so terrified about, well, what if it fails? Well, so what? What if it does? Think about the
worst case scenario. You have a great
idea– the worst case scenario is you go back to
what you’re doing, right? So unless you’re getting
into a rocket ship, the worst case scenario is
probably your current life now. The very worst
thing– almost fell– that can happen if your
thing doesn’t work out is you do what you’re
doing right now. You are currently living
your worst case scenario. Number four– know it’s probably
going to suck initially. I don’t know if I can say
that word, but I just did. [LAUGHTER] We live in a world where we
are obsessed with perfection. Hello, how many filters are
on your Instagram photo? And how many attempts
in your camera roll did you take to get
that perfect shot? We are obsessed with
things going well and people seeing that
things are going well, and it is crushing our calling. You know, Jesus
was looking around, and the disciples deserted him. Good thing he didn’t have
a boss, because he probably would have been fired. He’s like, sorry, are you
guys going to leave me too? And they’re like, we actually
have nowhere else to go, otherwise we would. [LAUGHTER] Awesome. Love that. But we are so paranoid
about something going wrong and someone knowing about it. You need to anticipate
a bumpy ride, and don’t get discouraged. Kingdom-building is hard work! It’s going to have
times where it’s really challenging and really
difficult. But it’s OK. And again, my first
400 sermons, I still don’t feel
comfortable preaching, but I’ve done a ton of them. You think I’d be better
than I am by now. But the first 200 or 300– I don’t know, 399– were like, I would get off
the stage, and I’m like, I’m never going
to do this again. This is awful. And because no one
was there to fire me, I just kept showing up. And it started sucking a little
bit less and less and less and less. Those poor people. And number five– be
committed to the long haul. Be committed to the long haul. We can’t be committed to
10 minutes of anything. If we stand in line
for 10 minutes, oh, we’re going to
light them up on Twitter like you’ve never seen. [LAUGHTER] We are so impatient. We’re so impatient about how
long something takes, and, oh, it didn’t like work. Slow internet– we just lose
our minds over slow internet, right? We need to be people
who have a long view– long obedience in
the same direction. Almost anything
that I’m successful has taken me about 10
years to be successful at. And year 2, 3, or
4, this is horrible. It’s a dumpster fire. You’re 5– well, maybe
they’re bringing a hose. Year six– this is
kind of smoldering. Year 7– should we just take it
behind the barn and shoot it. Year 8– well, I’m
kind of limping along. Year 9– it’s on life support. Year 10– hey, it’s alive. [LAUGHTER] But what we do is that we take
our dreams and our callings, and we put them to
death because they didn’t arrive on our timeline. We take ourselves
out of the running of what God wants to do in
us because we got impatient. Let me end with this– we need to change our mindset
before we consider calling. God called me to,
God called me to. And we use words like God called
me into the missions field, God called me to Africa, God
called me to youth ministry, God call me to campus ministry. But what if we were actually
limiting what God calls us to by those things we say. Is it not possible
that God could be calling you to nursing. He could be calling you to
physical therapy, or computer programming, or law and
justice, or that God’s calling in engineering or medicine. Why are these not the
things that we also say that God’s calling us to? It’s because we’ve
agreed in our mind that God only calls us to some
things and not the others. And I’m here to
tell you, it’s both. I love you guys. Thanks for having me. [APPLAUSE]

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