This evening I'll have my last auction of 2015. Since starting this business a couple of years ago I've learned a lot about auctions that was never taught in auction school. For instance, most people have no idea how much work goes into setting up an auction. They show up for the auction and evidently just assume that everything somehow mysteriously appeared on tables and chairs had aligned themselves up in neat rows.
Believe me, there is a lot of work in setting up an auction. You begin by finding items to sell, either by selling an estate for someone or having several consignors bring items to you to sell for them. These have to be listed and contracts signed. I take pictures of many of the items I'll be selling and post them on auctionzip.com on a listing I create for the auction. (My auctionzip ID number is 36965 if you want to see what I'm selling in this auction.) Since I don't have an auction house I have to store these items in my garage or in a storage unit I rent. The day before the auction a helper and I set up the building I rent for the auction. We put out the tables and chairs and begin hauling everything that will sold to the building. Once we get everything inside it's time to start setting everything out on tables or around the walls. Everything has to be numbered with the consignors number so we'll know whose items we're selling. Set up usually takes most of the day and about half the day of the actual sale.
Then it's back home to clean up, eat a meal, and go back to open the building ninety minutes before the sale so people can check out the merchandise. At 5:30 we'll begin the sale and usually sell three to four hours until everything is sold. Then we tear everything back down and put it away, load up our items in the van, and take them back to the storage unit. Early the next morning I begin adding up the sales so I know how much is due each consignor and deposit the money in the bank. A few days later I make out the checks and mail them to the consignors, and then it's time to prepare for the next sale.
People just see what happens during that 3-4 hour window when the auction is occurring. They don't see all the behind-the-scenes work that is required. It sounds a little like ministry doesn't it?
We are often evaluated by what is seen during a couple of hours on Sunday morning, but few people know what occurred during the remaining 166 hours of our week. They never saw us in our studies preparing messages for the worship service. They couldn't know about the hours we might have spent visiting persons in the hospital or the amount of time we spent in pastoral care or counseling. Unless they were involved in the committee meeting we led they have no idea of the amount of time those meetings require much less the amount of time we spent preparing for those meetings.
There is a lot of unseen work that goes into ministry. It's not only unseen, it's also unappreciated by many people. Yet, we know it is vital if we are committed to serving people. Much of what we do behind the scenes cannot be shared in public so we keep quiet about it and remind ourselves how important that work is to the people we are serving.
Auctions involve a lot of work, but I also see it as a ministry. Some of the people I represent are elderly people who need to downsize. Their children are not interested in their items, and they don't want their estate to be a burden to others so they begin to slowly let go of things. Others need the money they will get from the sale of their items. Some of the people I've sold for have inherited estates and have no idea what to do with them. They turn to auctioneers to help them dispose of those estates. Often, when people find out I'm a minister they begin to share with me some of their pain and/or problems. More than once I've been able to pray for someone who has called me to sell some items for them, and I've been able to point them to good churches in their communities.
Yes, auctions are a lot of work, but they also give me a chance to provide a unique ministry to people. A lot of it reminds me of when I was a pastor, only now I talk a little faster!