How Product Management Led Me To The Empty Tomb
Product management is a truth quest.
Not to be grandiose, but — at its core — that’s what this field is.
Our job as Product Managers is to find the truth, understand it, quantify it, qualify it because it may be true and also irrelevant to what we’re seeking to accomplish, and then make the relevant truths understandable to others so the business can make informed decisions about strategy and tactics.
There’s more to it than that. But it’s not less than that.
And that drive to understand, to question, to look beneath the surface, often brings us to unexpected places that require further discovery and investigation.
That’s been true in my career and also in my personal life.
As we approach Easter 2023, I’m reflecting on the intersection between the professional and the personal and wanted to share how product management led me to the empty tomb of Jesus.
Around 2010, I was seeing a lot of success in my career, which was great. But inside, I was a bit of a train wreck. My identity at that time was rooted in this noble idea of being The Good Guy: Having all the right answers, getting to work before everyone else, being the last person to leave at night.
The result was recognition, promotion, and approval at work — which was fantastic! — coupled with a soul absolutely crushed by anxiety and self-demands.
Eventually the breaking point came when I knew I needed to change.
I tried therapy, meditation, exercise, even hypnosis to try to reset and recenter myself. None of it worked.
Eventually, as a last resort, I decided to pray for help.
But the question then was — pray to whom?
“Call to me and I will answer you…”
I grew up Catholic and was a religious studies minor in college. But I went to church because my mother made me, and I studied world religions in school because I found them interesting, not because I believed in any of them.
After all, religious claims tend to be very personal. They can’t be verified. They’re not falsifiable.
But at that point, I was at the end of my rope. I wasn’t interested in confirming or denying religious claims; I needed help and in my mind it was either pray or medicate. I chose the former.
When I prayed for the first time as an adult, it was to the God I remembered from church as a kid. I told Him, I didn’t know if He was real, but I could really use the help if He was.
Little did I know that He actually expects and answers prayers of that type. In the biblical book of Jeremiah, He says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” And he did answer me. But the answer just led to more questions.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline…”
Over a period of a few months, the anxiety that had been wrecking my life gradually melted away. As I started to actually read the Bible and discuss it with friends who were Christians, I began to understand who God is. But even as I started to understand God and Christianity a bit better, I needed to understand if it was actually true. I needed someone to tell me why I should believe.
Had I deceived myself into thinking God was real to give myself permission to feel better?
Was I really feeling better or had a hypnotized myself into feeling something that wasn’t real?
Even I had been healed, how would I ever know which god had healed me?
How do I know the Bible is true?
Am I being ungrateful to God, the Universe, or whomever by even asking these questions?
And then I read something stunning from Jesus. In John 7, people are complaining about Jesus healing someone on their holy day of rest. As part of His response back, He says: “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
“Look beneath the surface…”
Jesus was inviting inquiry.
So I started to investigate. Over time, it became clear that there is a way to determine if Christianity is true and if the Bible is for real — and it all centered on Jesus.
Unlike other religions, Christianity makes a specific claim about an historical event: That Jesus died and was raised from the dead. If that did not happen, Christianity may have some interesting things to say — but at its root, it would be false. However if the resurrection did happen, that changes everything.
One of the most useful resource in answering that question came from Gary R. Habermas in The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ who points out several facts that most religious and secular New Testament scholars agree on, including but not limited to:
- Jesus died by crucifixion at the hands of the Roman government
- Something happened to Jesus’ body after he was crucified, because his tomb was empty
- Jesus’ followers claimed to have had interactions with a resurrected Jesus
- Paul transformed from a persecutor of Christians to an apostle after an encounter with the risen Jesus
- Jesus’ apostles transformed from skeptical cowards to missionaries who faced persecution and death for proclaiming Jesus is God, and turned the Roman world – and the rest of the world – upside down… within one generation, Christianity had spread to Europe, Africa, and Asia.
There are other facts, but these are generally the most agreed upon. The reason they’re agreed upon is because they’re supported by multiple, independent sources — including enemy testimony, early creeds, and historical texts outside the Bible itself.
Lots of religious adherents are sincere in their beliefs. But Jesus’ disciples are unique in all of history because they were actually in the position to not just believe something happened but were present to see it. To experience it.
They were willing to suffer and lay down their lives for this message about Jesus’ death and resurrection because they knew it was true. Realizing that made it easier for me to put my trust and hope in Him, too.
“For God so loved the world…”
Christianity is the worst news and the best news all at once, and you see those truths captured in the Christian celebrations of Good Friday (commemorating Jesus’ death) and Easter (celebrating His resurrection).
In simple terms, the story of Christianity is this: God made it. We broke it. Jesus fixed it.
In more detail:
- The eternal, holy, omnipotent, omniscient God creates space, time, and matter (Genesis 1:1)
- He creates human beings in His image to know and enjoy Him (Genesis 2:18-25)
- Since true love is sacrificial in nature and requires conscious consent, He gives us free will so we have ability to choose Him and follow His ways or reject Him and go our own way (Genesis 2:16-17; Joshua 24:15; Galatians 5:13; Mark 8:34)
- The first humans choose to rebel against Him because they want to be Him (Genesis 3:
- As a result sin (the bad things we think, say, and do) enters the picture
- All of creation is infected and affected by sin – including all of us (Psalm 51:5; 1 John 1:8)
- Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2)
- And as our creator, God defines the penalty of sin as death (Romans 6:23)
- People try to do good things to make up for the bad things, but no amount of good can make up for the fact of sin that is in all of us – and that’s the bad news (Isaiah 64:6)
- The good news is – just as sin is inherited, or imputed, to us, the way out of our situation can also be imputed, or credited, to us when we put out trust in God’s son, Jesus
- That is the meaning of John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
- Jesus lived the perfect life none of us did and took the punishment we all deserve, so that when we put our trust in Him, He takes on our record of wrongdoing and He gives us his record of goodness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-10)
- Jesus warns his followers that becoming a Christian does not erase all your troubles (John 16:33)
- But it does provide a tangible hope by freeing you from the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23), the power of sin over your life (1 Corinthians 10:13), and eventually the presence of sin (Revelation 21:4)
- Jesus will return again, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:28) and to make all things new, destroying death, mourning, crying, and pain (Revelation 21:1-8)
The parentheticals above are references in the Bible so you can read these statements for yourself in context.
“Behold I make all things new…”
Death, destruction, sadness, and evil are all part of our lives today. But Jesus’ declaration, “Behold I make all things new…” in Revelation 21 is a reminder that better days are ahead and the best is yet to come. In the present day, I can rest in that hope — and in the understanding that I no longer need to pressure myself to be The Good Guy because Jesus is all that and so much more.
If you’re interested in a short overview of reasons to believe, in general, that there is a creator god and, specifically, that he’s the God of the Bible, this video provides a good starting point.
New Around Here?
- Subscribe to receive future updates.
- Connect with me on LinkedIn.
- Follow me on Twitter to share your PM insights!