Michael Hidalgo, Lead Pastor of Denver Community Church and author of the book, “Unlost”, is interviewed by Brian Watson, Founder and CEO of the Opportunity Coalition.


Brian Watson: Welcome to the Opportunity Coalition Podcast. Today we have Michael Hidalgo, the lead pastor at Denver Community Church. Michael, welcome to the show.

Michael Hidalgo: Thank you. It's good to be with you.

Brian Watson: Now, Michael, you are not only the pastor of a church but you’ve also recently written a book, and tell our listeners a little bit about what you do at Denver Community Church and your outreach, and then we’ll talk a little bit about the book that you recently released.

Michael Hidalgo: Yeah, well we at Denver Community Church, we just opened our second location. And so we meet in a little place called Wash Park here in Denver, and then we meet right Downtown, steps away from our capitol building. And our heart in that really reflects the heart that our church has for the City of Denver. We really operate with the belief that the church is at its best when we act through the hope and love of Jesus, and so that we become a healing agent in our city. And two locations enabled us to do that better and allows us to connect with more people in more places. And it’s been an amazing, amazing place to be a part of. I’ve been there now a little over seven years. And our whole heart really is about being those who are transformed so that we can be a transforming presence in our city and in our world.

Michael Hidalgo

Michael Hidalgo

Brian Watson: You know as a full disclosure, I am a member of the church and I have been to both locations. And, you know, the church always hasn’t been necessarily maybe in a growth mode and hasn’t had the outreach that it has. So, Michael, talk to us a little bit about that, of, you know, how long have you been there and how has the church maybe changed over the last number of years?

Michael Hidalgo: Yeah, well when I came it was quite small. And what happened is we began to see people interested in serving our city. And so when I started I was the only staff member, and people would routinely come to me and say, “Hey, I want to work with homeless youth” or “I would like to work with our immigrant population.” And so what I had to do is I knew I couldn’t oversee all of that, so I began to network throughout the city and just find ministry partners, people who were doing great work in the city, and then connect the people from our congregation to people already doing work in the city.

And so one of the ways I’ve really seen our church change over the years is that we’re not doing more in-house. What we’ve identified and what we’ve been able to see is that there’s people throughout the city doing great work. And so we’re able to empower our people to go and pursue their areas of passion and their areas of ministry to which they have been called. And we’ve also seen in that time a lot of growth, a lot of new people come. Our staff is now 17 people, so there’s been a lot of changes with that. But I think the exciting thing for me is who we’ve been at our core has always been the same, and our heart is really to be those who model our lives, who pattern our lives after Jesus, which means that we’re always doing everything we can to understand God’s heart for this world and pursue that.

Brian Watson: Well let’s talk about that concept of, you know, being “called.” My gut tells me that maybe you didn’t always think that you were always going to be a pastor. Maybe you did. Kind of talk to our listeners about your personal history and journey and that concept of being “called.”

Michael Hidalgo: Yes. So I grew up in a Christian home. I was in church, as people have said, three times a week, so Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. And really, honestly, I had this thing from an early age, I just never really bought into it. I was not interested in Christianity. I was not interested in religion. My family moved. My parents moved from New York to Michigan in the middle of all of that. And so I really saw two different cultures, two different ways of doing churches or doing church, which confused me further. So by the time I was in high school I really cared about very little with regard to the church and brought that attitude into college. But in all of that the one person I could not get past was Jesus.

Philip Yancey, in his book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” says that we see people in the Bible running to Jesus, and today we see them running from the church. And that was me, running from the church but running to Jesus. And so after college I was a bit directionless and I met a pastor who really -- really, I was able to build a great relationship with. I had a lot of questions. I was really confused. And he just listened. He didn’t judge. He didn’t tell me all the ways that I was wrong. He also, by the way, had a really nice MasterCraft ski boat, which I was more interested in than anything else.

But the more I spent time with him the more I began to see a life that was well-lived and a life that made sense. And as he helped me kind of untangle the knots that were in my heart and soul, I began to think, “Man, I wonder if I could do this for somebody.” And I began to just pursue that slowly. What if this is what’s in front of me? And eventually my relationship with him grew. He asked me to go and teach a group of about 300 students and preach my first sermon. And I was about two minutes into that years ago, and everything began to click, and when I say “click” -- and we talked about this idea of “calling” -- I began to see how I was wired, what I was made to do, and I began to find the thing that gave me life, but not only gave me life but as it gave me life and energy I was able to give that to others.

Brian Watson: Now, do you believe that each person has a calling and a purpose to be living in this planet?

Michael Hidalgo: Absolutely. So it’s interesting, as a pastor I’m frequently asked, you know, “When were you called” or “How were you called to ministry?” And that word “ministry” I think, in some ways, has become toxic because there are people who think for some reason, like if you’re a missionary or if you’re a pastor or if you’re in nonprofit work or if you’re working with some sort of church organization, that somehow you’re like the upper -- in the upper echelons of Jesus’ favorite people. But I think all of us are called. I think all of us have passions that are knit deeply within us. I think there’s this deep sense of we know what we love to do. And I believe that God is one who invites us, even from the earliest chapters of the Bible we see this, God who invites us to work with him to transform this world into what he wants it to be. And so whatever that is I think that those are the places where we find callings.

I have a friend named Pamela, and she’s an attorney. And so there’s all jokes about lawyers. I mean, there’s jokes about pastors, too, I suppose. But I look at her life and what she has done with her work as an attorney in helping those who are unable to access the proper and necessary legal help in our world. She works, for example, with women who are abused. Many of them feel stuck. Many of them feel like they have nowhere to turn. And so she works in the City of Denver with the Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Clinic, gives her expertise, her job, to help these women. And it’s not just her work that does it or her job that does it. It’s her calling that she knows she exists to be someone who helps others. Her calling is to give a voice to the voiceless.

And so I think she’s one example of many who aren’t in full-time ministry, they don’t work at a church, but really, really begin to understand their calling that God has placed on them to participate with Him in renewing and redeeming this world.

Brian Watson: If one of our listeners is unsure of their calling or maybe doesn’t know if they even have one or haven’t thought about it, what would be your recommendation to them to explore that idea in their own lives?

Michael Hidalgo: Well there’s a few things. The first thing that comes to mind is there’s an author and pastor named Frederick Buechner who says that “Our calling is the place where our great happiness meets the world’s great need.” And I said earlier that when I was teaching and preaching I began to feel this, like, deep meaning and this excitement and this energy and this joy that came out of me. And what I began to find is that other people resonated with that. And so this calling is what are the things that you love to do, like, if you were never going to be paid for it, you just couldn’t stop doing it. And is that the same thing that other people love to see you do?

So my friend Jess is an artist. She can’t stop doing art, but what she’s done is she’s begun to take that joy and she’s beginning to transform it to work with the refugee population here in Denver. And she’s using it to educate single moms to begin working on projects that really help them reach a sustainable way of life, but she’s doing it through what she loves to do. And so for those who are listening, I would say what do you love to do? Not what your job is. What do you love to do and do you find that people resonate with that when you’re doing it? And if that’s the case, begin to ask questions of how can I do this in a way that’s transformative for others and for this world?

Brian Watson: It’s an interesting, unique paradigm shift when, you know, a lot of people may look at themselves and figure out what do I have to gain, but that idea of meeting the world’s needs and what do I have to contribute, and that’s a completely different perspective. You know, Michael, there are some in the world today that would critique the Christian Church or Christians themselves as being known more of what we’re against than what we’re for, or that the whole lot of people in faith are people that are uneducated or uninformed to the real reality of the world today. What would be your response to that critique on those two different areas?

Michael Hidalgo: Yeah, well, first I think any critique -- actually I’ll say it this way, any fair critique usually carries some weight with it. And so for me, I have learned if someone’s critiquing me I ought to listen. It’s different than blaming you. Blame and accusation never go well. But a critique is “This is what I see, this is where you can grow.” And I think for the Christian world -- and I use that term broadly and I recognize I’m a pastor so I’m kind of like a spokesperson for it in some ways -- I think we should acknowledge that a lot of the critique that we receive from our world is actually warranted.

When there’s been accusations of “You speak in an uneducated way” or one of the things I always hear is “You’re always preaching at us,” talking to the Christian world, and I believe that that is true, because there have been some, and I say some, not many, but some with a loud voice who have presumed to speak on behalf of Jesus and have condemned our world, have condemned people, have told everyone how bad they are. And my feeling is the Church is at its worst when we exist as the moral police of culture. And I think we’re at our best when we exist as a healing agent in our culture and in our world.

And so for those, and I meet many people, who, especially when I tell them I’m a pastor, it’s kind of become defensive, and I get that, because pastors have done a lot of damage over the years. And I know I’ve hurt people. So this is not me pointing the finger. But I think we need to own that. I think we need to teach people what repentance and forgiveness, asking forgiveness and apologizing looks like, and recognizing as much as I’d love to throw other Christians under the bus, these are our brothers and sisters.

So to be able to own that and say, “Yeah, I see how we’ve done this,” but also, then, to take the conversation a step further and begin to listen, begin to see how people view us, and begin to listen to that critique, I think, would be incredibly, incredibly helpful not only for the Church but also for our world.

Brian Watson: Well I would agree with you. And I appreciate your, you know, thoughtful response, because, you know, oftentimes, you know, as a Christian, I think that to be known more for our love and our service to our fellow man, it could be truly transformational, and hopefully that message gets out there.

Michael Hidalgo: There are few things less compelling than starting by telling people what you’re against. I think we should tell people what we’re for.

Brian Watson: Yep. Yeah, in a compassionate, empathetic, and understanding way, that is for sure. Michael, I want to transition a little bit from the Church to the book that you recently released. That has been a journey for you. You’ve been working on that for a while. Talk to us a little bit about that and what that experience was like.

Michael Hidalgo: Yeah, well the book is about the simple idea that so much of what we’re taught in life and what’s subtly taught is we have to achieve, we have to reach the top, we have to do things so that we will be considered worthy. And it’s no surprise that that really has leaped its way into religion from the most primitive time, that we have to make sure that the gods are not angry with us. And so when you look at Christianity you see people that carry that with them. I had a conversation with a guy a few weeks ago who told me, “I would love to go to your Church but I’m pretty sure God would strike me with lightning as soon as I walked in” because he had made angry. And so he thought, “I need to do things to make God happy.”

And so the whole book is about this idea that we actually have the whole narrative backward, that from the earliest story in the Bible, which is the first man and the first woman, when they eat of the fruit that God has told them not to eat from, so they do what God asked them not to do. Instead of God being angry God comes to them and says, “What have you done?” He doesn’t condemn them. In no place does he say, “You’re awful. You’re terrible. You’ve sinned against me. I will now punish you.” But he does say, “Here are the results of what life will be like when you choose what is contrary to what I want.” But the thing I love about the biblical narrative is from that first story, three chapters into the Bible until the very end of the Bible, it’s God’s pursuit of humanity. It’s God continually coming to us.

And that’s what the book is about, it’s about realizing that we are actually worth loving, that we are worth being redeemed. And so I spent a lot of years thinking about that book. I finally had an opportunity to write it. And it was released earlier this year. And as far as the process goes, I think the biggest thing that was a surprise was the anxiety that comes with it. I have a friend who’s an author who said to me, “It’s pretty much like stripping down naked and standing in front of a group of people to see what they think about you.” And there is a sense of you write a book and you put it out there and people are going to tell you if they think it’s good or bad.

And so these are the reasons I don’t go to Amazon and look at the comments and why I don’t go to Goodreads and look at what kind of rating it got. But I really, really began to realize that when you put a piece of yourself out there, when you put everything into something, you really are forced to make the decision of whether or not you’re going to hold onto the outcomes or surrender the outcomes. And on my better days I’ve been able to surrender the outcomes. And if I’m honest, on my worst days, I’ve held much too tightly to them. But it was a great, great experience writing it. It’s titled “Unlost.” And I actually have another book coming out in the middle of next year that I’m excited about titled “The Changing Faith.”

Brian Watson: Wonderful. We’ll look forward to that. Well thank you for sharing that experience. You know, I think a lot of our listeners may have thought about the idea of writing a book one day, and I’m sure it helps to sharpen one’s ideas and thoughts as they go through that process, but it also makes one very vulnerable as well. So I appreciate you sharing that and being candid about that. Michael, I want to transition now a little bit to you, the person, starting with what is one of your favorite quotes or sayings and why?

Michael Hidalgo: My favorite quote is “No man is a failure who has friends.” If you’re a fan of the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” you no doubt know exactly where that quote comes from. If you’ve never heard of that movie or if you’ve never seen the movie, you should probably make plans to watch it tonight and then again on Christmas Eve for the rest of your life. But that’s just my advice.

The movie is about a man named George Bailey, if you don’t know, who is really racked with this idea that he’s just worthless, that he’s not worth anything, that he’s better off dead than alive. And the end of the movie -- this is a spoiler alerts, so if you don’t want to hear it turn down the volume -- is his friends basically come to the rescue, and everything that seems wrong with his life he discovers is right because of his friends.

And one of the things that my wife and I have always held very, very central is that relationships are some of the most important things in life, both our relationship with one another, with our children, with our friends. And it’s interesting, in the first chapter of the Bible when God is creating the heaves and the earth he keeps saying, “It’s good. It’s good. It’s good,” and in the second chapter he sees that the man is alone and he says, “Oh, this is not good.” And this is not just about marriage, it’s about the idea that we as human beings are created for community. And for us, we just have really begun to see that even in our darkest moments, in our weakest moments, in our most broken moments, my wife and I look and we see very clearly the reason we have been able to continue to grow, continue to flourish is because of men and women around us who love us deeply. And so that really is my favorite quote, and that speaks a lot about the importance of relationships.

Brian Watson: You know, and I think, sadly, in a lot of society today, you know, we try to avoid those tough moments, those broken moments, you know, as you turn them. But at the same time, you know, I try to encourage people that those are some of the greatest learning experiences you will ever have, not only for, you know, what are your priorities in life but also to have empathy for others. And sometimes when you’re in that valley it’s really hard and it’s really dark and it’s really tough, but at the end of the day, to realize that there’s lessons to be learned there and it’s not something to be swept under the carpet or just to have always a smiley face on, but to really have people around you that you can commune with to get through those times together, so I appreciate you saying that. Michael, what is some of the best advice that you have ever received?

Michael Hidalgo: Best advice, be present and pay attention. And I say that because – and you and I, Brian, have talked about this before, but we live our lives in, I think, often one of two ways. I meet people who live life only ever looking ahead to what’s next, there’s almost this escapism of the present moment where people who spend time before ever given it, always just looking ahead and hoping it’s going to get better. And then there’s people, other kinds of people that I’ve met who live tied to the past, and this is not always the fault of their own. Sometimes it’s because of wounds and abuse that they’ve received. Sometimes if they beat themselves up over a missed opportunity, or they have regret. But I know very few people who actually live fully and completely in the here and now. And I think it’s important and I think it’s the best advice I’ve been given, because all that we’re ever guaranteed is this present moment. And if we tend to the present moment, what I have found is we’ll actually have everything that we need.

We can address our past mistakes or we can address wounds that we’ve been given with integrity and find the courage to go there and recognize that even our greatest agony can be turned into glory. And I think if we understand our present we can also understand where we’re going. So many people talk about where they’re going without knowing where they are, and it’s a really difficult thing to get where you want to go if you don’t know your starting point. And so I think that’s a really important deal.

And the other piece of this that I just read recently is that the more we’re present and the more we pay attention, we actually begin to see our world, and when we see our world we’re able to remember. And it’s interesting, the most frequent command in the first five books of the Bible – in the Torah is the command to remember. And God says over and over, “Remember the Lord, Your God. Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.” And it’s interesting because studies have shown the more that we remember, the slower time actually goes. And we’re in such a frenetic and frantic society, we’re always dialed into all sorts of things, we don’t want to miss anything, and the irony is, by having that attitude, we seem to miss everything.

And so I’m not naturally someone who slows down and pays attention and is present. I have to work at it really, really hard. But that would be my encouragement to anyone who’s listening is just slow down and be present. And if you want to know, by the way, if you’re doing this well, think of the last time you went out for dinner and ask yourself “Are you able to describe the place you were in and do you even know what your server looked like?” Because most of us, we’re so distracted we don’t even notice little details around us. And I think if we’re present and we pay attention and if we remember, we will be able to recognize where we are right now, which is really all we’ve ever been guaranteed and all that we’re ever given.

Brian Watson: It sounds like a recipe for a more rich and blessed life, that’s for sure, so thank you for sharing that. Michael, I know that you read a lot. And what is one of your favorite or most highly recommended books and why?

Michael Hidalgo: This is easy for me. It’s called “My Name is Asher Lev” by the author Chaim Potok. Chaim Potok was a Orthodox Jew, who, in my opinion, was one of the most brilliant novelists maybe ever, and I might be overstating that. But unbelievable -- had an unbelievable mastery of words. And this book is about Asher Lev who’s the protagonist, the central character, growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. And what he finds from a very young age is he can’t stop creating art. And his father doesn’t want him to just be drawing pictures, his father wants him to follow the tradition and do everything right. And he’s caught in this tug of war to the thing that he can’t stop doing, which is art, but he also wants to honor his father and feels compelled by the world that is creating for him all of these things that he’s supposed to do. And so it’s a liberating book because it’s about his journey toward accepting who he really is down deep inside. It’s him recognizing that it’s not just that he wants to do art, but that he can’t stop doing it because of how he’s wired.

Parker Palmer, who’s an author, says, “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen to what it intends to do with you,” and that’s really what this book is about. So many of us are living according to all the demands of others, and it’s no wonder so many of us are miserable. And so I think this book is an important message for us, because we try so hard and in so many ways to please all of these people around us. And it almost seems selfish to say that we need to first begin to recognize what we have to offer because if we listen to ourselves, if we begin to hear the voice of God telling us, “This is what I’ve created you to do,” we actually begin to give to others our best self. And too often what we’re trying to give to others is all the things that they need to be pleased, and we realize it’s just a dead-end road. And so this book talks about that in great depth, and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys reading. Even those who don’t enjoy reading, if you read this book you will begin to enjoy reading. I guarantee it.

Brian Watson: You know, Michael, I always enjoy speaking with you. And the answers to each one of these questions, we could talk about for the rest of the afternoon, that’s for sure. I appreciate it. Thank you for sharing that.

Michael Hidalgo: Absolutely.

Brian Watson: Michael, what is your definition of success?

Michael Hidalgo: You know, I just mentioned it earlier, but I think the definition of success is pushing through to really discover who we are created to be. And I really, truly -- it’s not a fatalistic thing. But I could talk about moments and high points and all these things, but it’s interesting to me, the most compelling people in our world are not the ones who’ve always been the most successful by cultural standards of our day. You look at someone like a Mother Teresa, she had nothing, but at the same time you look at her work and you go, “This is someone who understood and lived out of the heart of God.” And so I think if we begin to tend to that, if we begin to listen to who God’s wired us to be, to begin to understand our gifs and our talents and our passions and our abilities, and they can converge in such a way to serve our world well, that, to me, is success.

There’s a guy here in Denver named John Hicks who runs what he calls “network coffee,” and it’s really a haven for the chronically homeless. John’s been doing this for three decades. If you were with him, he’s not -- doesn’t have a ton of degrees. By all measures -- normal measures of success he doesn’t have any of it, but when you’re with him, you’re so compelled by the way that he loves those who would deemed oftentimes unlovable or those who would be called the least of these. And when I look at a guy like that, I say, “That’s success. That’s someone who understands what it means to actually begin to look outside of themselves and not try to achieve and get to the highest point, but really engage the heart of God for our world.”

Brian Watson: Very interesting. Thank you sharing that. That’s interesting. You know, I think everybody has their different views and there’s that worldly definition of success that I think, unfortunately, leaves a lot of people, you know, wanting through their lives. And then there’s this idea of, again, loving and serving your fellow human being and see what that entails. It’s a different path and I think a more rewarding path.

Michael Hidalgo: Absolutely. Let me add one thing to do that, if I can. When I was 24 years old I was brought into a church where I was thrust onto a stage speaking to 6,000 people every week. And so it was like -- I mean, as a pastor, like, that is the high point. Like, that’s the apex. And so I started, like, at the top, which is always a bad place to start. But one thing I’ve learned, even in that height of success, so to speak, is it will, as you just pointed out, Brian, it will always leave you wanting. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. And the only place I could go from there was down, and that’s actually where I’ve discovered true life, is not in ascending the ladder but in truly imitating Jesus who, even though he was God, made himself nothing, as the Apostle Paul says.

Brian Watson: Well it’s like you said earlier, you know, are you living your life in the future or are you living it in the here and now? And to realize that that’s what you have and how are you going to make that impact in someone’s life today, and I think that’s so crucial and important. Thank you for that. Michael, what do you believe is the biggest challenge or threat facing our country or world today?

Michael Hidalgo: You know, I think it’s our inability to simply just listen to other people. And that sounds really, really simple and, like, “Oh, come one, there’s bigger things.” But I have a friend who’s one of the best listeners I’ve ever met. And when I say that, he doesn’t just listen, but he has this thing. Like, everyone I know wants to spend time with him, and it’s not because he’s famous. It’s not because he’s accomplished a lot. It’s because he’s somebody that when you’re with him, you really, truly begin to feel like you are the only person in his world. He empathizes. He understands. He carries burdens with people. And he’s one of those people, I always joke with him, like, everyone wants to tell him their darkest secrets because something about him screams, like, “I’m safe. I’ll hear you. I’ll listen to you.”

And I often wonder, like, what if our world, like, what if our world was filled with people like that? Like, how would we respond to some of the crises of our day in some of the poorest places in our world? What would conflict look like? What would politics look like if you had people from opposite sides of the aisle with different opinions who simply weren’t waiting for their turn to talk, but really wanted to hear from the other side? And it’s not cheap in the sense -- like it’s not just agreeing to disagree, but it’s truly looking at people in the eye, giving them time, hearing from them, interacting with their story. And I think when we can listen to others and we’re truly taking in what they’re saying, we lend them dignity, and I think in the end all people really want at the end of the day is to know that they have dignity. And I think listening is a first step toward discovering the humanity in others. And when we can hear and see the image of God in somebody else, we’re all image-bearers, that is the first step toward ending conflict. Not that we’ll all agree, but actually just beginning to treat others with that kind of dignity.

Brian Watson: Well I think, you know, in talking in terms of human dignity and service and coming alongside people and empowering them, you know, those are principles that you wish that not only were in our communities but as, you’re right, this is the highest levels of political office throughout our country and how transformational that could be versus people just focusing on themselves. And so very interesting. I appreciate you saying that. Michael, who are some of your mentors, whether living or historical?

Michael Hidalgo: Well I’ll start with historical, and that’s Johnny Cash. I don’t know if he -- where he'll go down in history. But the thing I love about him, and always have loved, is he had a deep and real love for Jesus and was also able to hold onto this reality of, like, I struggle and messed up, like I’m simultaneously a saint and a sinner. There’s a line from one of his songs called “The Wanderer” where he says, “I went out there in search of experience, to taste and to touch and to feel as much as a man can before he repents.” And he was somehow always tethered to the heart of God, and he was so honest about his struggle that it was just refreshing to see that kind of life. I would -- I can’t wait for the light to come to sit down with him for a few centuries and just hear stories, because I’m sure there’s a ton.

And then I would say living, there’s a guy named Ed Dobson. Ed was a pastor in Grand Rapids who gave me my first job. He’s currently dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS. And Ed has taught me more about life, about love, about humility. I call him my spiritual father. And I’ll give him a little plug. If you want to learn more about him you can go to edsstory.com. He is one of the most compelling human beings I know, and I’m forever grateful that I can call him a mentor and a friend.

Brian Watson: Michael, what is the best way for our listeners to learn more about you, your books, or Denver Community Church?

Michael Hidalgo: Well the Church, we have the simple website of denverchurch.org; they can learn more about the church there. I do have a website, it’s michael-hidalgo.com, and that’s important because all joking aside, michaelhidalgo.com, I found out the hard way, is a lingerie photographer. So make sure to put the hyphen between Michael and Hidalgo, michael-hidalgo.com. And then if you Google on Amazon my name, my book that I released, “Unlost: Being Found by the One We Are Looking For,” is there. And my new book, which is coming out in May, has just hit Amazon, and I believe it’s available for preorder, that’s called “Changing Faith: Questions, Doubts and Choices About the Unchanging God.”

Brian Watson: Well it’s amazing the difference that one little hyphen can make in the world; right?

Michael Hidalgo: Yes, it is.

Brian Watson: So pay attention to that. Michael, what is some parting advice or golden nuggets of wisdom that you’d like to share with our listeners?

Michael Hidalgo: I would say don’t take yourself too seriously. And I say this because in my experience it’s often all the wrong things that cause us to think that we’re a big deal, whether that’s money or our title or position or our Zip code or the things that we own. And none of those things ever matter because no one on their deathbed, to my knowledge, has ever said, “Man, I wish I had had a nicer car” or “I wish I had closed that sale” or “I wish my net worth was double.” Like, when you’re on your deathbed, no, we want to be surrounded by friends and family and loved ones. We want to know that our life mattered and that the world’s a bit better because we went through it. And so in the hard times we wake up to those things. And if we take ourselves too seriously I think that we’re going to miss all the things that really matter. And so laugh a lot. Be with people who mock you, who tease you in a loving way. And just remember, like, at the end of this we’re image-bearers. We’re human beings. We’re created to live a life of joy and peace. And if we get too serious about ourselves we’ll miss all of that.

Brian Watson: Well, Michael, I want to thank you for participating in the Opportunity Coalition Podcast today, and also for the positive transformational work that you do in the community. I know that you and the Church are affecting many lives and people that you’ve never even met before. And, you know, my family told me a long time ago, you’re very blessed if you’re able to affect one life, and if you can affect more than that, that’s wonderful, but focus on the one. And I think that you have done that and the work of you and the Church and the books that you’re writing are definitely their impact in our community. So thank you for that.

Michael Hidalgo: Well thanks for having me. It was fun to be with you.

Brian Watson: Wonderful. Have a good day.

Michael Hidalgo: You, too.