Sermons

Summary: They say as you go through life, it isn’t as important what you know as it is whom you know. Well, they’re close to being right...

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They say that as you go through life it isn’t as important what you know as whom you know. This morning, I want to suggest this is true, but I’ll go even one better. It’s not even so much who you know, but the one who knows you.

Even in a competitive, knowledge-based industry like computers – something I do every day – I have to tell you, there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Now, I’m not saying knowledge is useless. Trust me, the more you know, the better off you are. It’s just that who know you, and more importantly – who knows you, can make or break a career.

Melinda French is a bit of a celebrity in my software development world. She’s a pretty smart cookie: you have to be if you are going to work at Microsoft. Unlike her college-dropout husband, she got an MBA – from Duke no less. Beginning in 1987, she started taking over different products like Publisher, Expedia, and even their online encyclopedia: Microsoft Encarta.

But her real claim was a piece of software called ‘MS Bob.’ Even today, ten years after the product was withdrawn from the market, it’s still talked about by geeks like me who appreciate computer history.

The idea had been to take a nice simple Windows interface and sugar-coat it so that it would be ‘easier.’ Instead of launching programs, you went into virtual rooms to click on stuff. Sadly, if you use Windows, you still even see traces of it. You know that stupid little dog that comes up when you’re just trying to find a file? Or even worse, that Satan-spawned Paper Clip who hijacks your help? Well they were both part of MS Bob. It all came out of this one piece of software.

But there was just one problem with it: Nobody wanted to use something that stupid and condescending. It was one of the biggest flops that Microsoft ever produced. Now, I have to tell you. In most companies, if you’re the lead on a multi-million dollar fiasco, while you probably are thinking about your next position, you aren’t looking up in the scenario.

But instead of being let go, Melinda French ended up still moving on to bigger and better things.

Now, to be sure, Microsoft has a pretty firm rule about failures like this. It’s an unwritten rule that people who try something new but fail aren’t fired. As the company line states, ‘you can’t buy the kind of knowledge failure brings.’ But even in Melinda’s case, this was a bit special.

Out on her own, she may still have rallied and been pretty successful. But in Melinda’s case, her move up involved changing her name – to Melinda French Gates. Yes, she is the woman who snagged the world’s wealthiest CEO, William Henry Gates III, aka Bill Gates. I think it’s safe to say that by the world’s standards, she’s pretty much as successful as gets, and it isn’t because of her advanced degrees from Duke. Heck, everybody knows she married to the famous college drop-out of them all. It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.

I say this all this all this morning because of our text. Admittedly, in the spirit of Labor Day, I had initially chosen it because of how nice sounding rest is. But the more I got into this text, the more I realized that this passage here strikes at the very essence of what it means to be a Christian. After all, what is our life except a series massive blunders, stumbling from one fall to the next, but all done in the knowledge that the CEO of it all is in love with us?


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