Wouldn’t it be great to quit the mindless job you have now and do what you love with your family, 24/7? It doesn’t really matter what your “thing” is. You can most likely make a living at that which you love, as my family has done for the last decade. Let me give you some background and explain more.
Speech and debate is our family’s thing. Literally, our name is on the book (see Jeub’s Guide to Speech and Debate). But I’m starting to realize speech and debate isn’t what makes our family — any family, for that matter — wonderful. It doesn’t really matter what your “thing” is.
I fell in love with the activity when teaching in 1995. It was an extracurricular activity passed onto me as one of the newest teachers in the school district. No one else wanted the debate coach position, but I fell in love with it. Since then, I have taken significant steps toward building a curriculum business catering directly toward speech and debate competitors.
You probably know the rest of the story: my family publishes books, we manage yearly writing of curriculum, and we travel the country touting our “thing,” speech and debate competition. (See www.monumentpublishing.com if you like.)
I talk with many entrepreneurial-minded people, and they get jazzed when I explain my history with this niche market. But that’s not really my point here. My point is this: Every family should find their “thing,” and once they do, they GIVE, RECEIVE and PROSPER as a family.
This is excellent business advice I wished I had figured out sooner in life. Not many people are elaborating on how to build a sustainable business that allows you and your family to grow together. My hope is that this inspires you to do much of the same as we have done with our “thing.”
We have a number of other academic, extracurricular and social activities, but speech and debate is our central activity. We pour our personal resources — time, money and work — into it. We give, give and give some more, sometimes till it hurts.
There are three ways my family gives to the speech and debate community:
- Time. When preparing for tournaments, our family is constantly practicing. We take 4-5 day weekends to compete. We’ve helped others by running clubs, sponsoring tournaments, and spreading the word about all things awesome about speech and debate. I’ve helped run some of the biggest tournaments in homeschool speech and debate history.
- Money. This activity isn’t cheap. We have traveled all over the country by plane and automobile. All the competitors need professional attire to compete in.
- Work. My family stands apart from most others in the community: we ran a business that catered to this activity. Resources needed assembling, orders needed packaging, and booths needed manning. We all pitched in where we could to get the work done.
There is a lot of good, hard work involved in running a business. But when you think about it, these are fantastic skills the kids are learning. I have always paid my children at least minimum wage and I paid handsomely for project-oriented work. In fact, I hire about 50 authors and editors from around the country to contribute to the 5000+ pages of content we put out every year, most of them high school graduates fresh out of the speech and debate community.
I remember going into business for the speech and debate community years ago. The homeschool league was young and I had a lot to offer. I gravitated to it naturally, people wanted an experienced coach to teach their children, and our family was in position to give our time and investment.
When you give, there is usually a return…
The work is hard, but the rewards are great. The memories we share catering to this community are awesome examples of what good, honest work can bring to your family.
We’ve taken our competitive-aged kids across the country seeing 10-times what I saw at their age. We’ve traveled coast-to-coast, met families of the most diverse backgrounds and have made the best of friends. While most other families spent tons of money participating in this costly event, my kids got to ride along with Monument Publishing and enjoy its fruits.
The results have been outstanding. Our family is proud owner of four national titles and boxes of trophies. But that is nothing compared to the national network of friends — a tremendous asset to my children heading into adulthood.
“Give and you will receive,” Jesus said. This is both economic and relational; the more you give into the activity you commit to, the more you will get in return. Whatever your “thing” is in your family, count the blessings that come back to you and your children.
Your “thing” may not be speech and debate. It may be a more traditional sport like soccer, or a more artistic activity like theater. Whatever it is, tell yourself that “this is what we do,” and insert your activity there. Do this with your one child or a dozen; this idea scales to the size of your family. It’s your “thing.” Do it with pride.
Here’s where I feel we could have done better these past several years of speech and debate: there is a greater purpose to the thing your family chooses.
This has been on my mind these past few years, and it gave birth to a one-of-a-kind conference I put together at Focus on the Family in January: the FOR ACTION CONFERENCE. See, Training Minds Ministry (the nonprofit ministry I run) has the greater purpose predicated on the bible verse from 1 Peter 1:13, “Train the mind for action.” I felt like all our speech and debate training did a great job on the first half of this simple verse (train the mind), but we lacked the purpose for this training (for action).
This perspective is paramount, even more important than the skills we taught, and it will most definitely be applied in my future work as an educator. In my writing class, I will try to inspire my students to write to help improve the world. In my debate coaching, I will remind my students to use their communication skills to articulate to the world love and respect for one another. In whatever you teach, remind your students that they are “training for action” — a purpose which, one hopes, is greater than themselves.
Do you see this significant change? I am not sure I’ll be able to afford another FOR ACTION CONFERENCE, but the students left in January inspired and motivated to make an impact on the world for good.
You can do the same with this simple change of perspective. Continue to teach what you teach — do your “thing” — but keep your eye on the greater good that will come of it.
This last point — prosper — gives me pause. We never stop growing in all that we do. For Wendy and me, we are growing from where we once were. It is unsettling — as it should be — when growth is not happening. That is the Jeub family these past dozen years or so.
We give, we receive, and we prosper. And we hope the same for you and your family.