There will come a time in all of our lives when we have to confront our own mortality. At this point, we’ll all be faced with considering the real meaning of our lives, and what’s truly most important to us. During his time as a pastor, Joe counseled others in this regard. In February 2019, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. One year later, we got together to discuss his life experiences and his perspective on battling this challenge. Joe passed away on 6/19/2021 after continuing to inspire others for 2-1/2 years.
Q&A WITH JOE SHUPP
Q: Tell us about starting with Cutco/Vector back in 1993.
- Cutting the rope, that was cool. Cutting the leather, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a part of what was happening.
- Of course, I faced a few challenges as well such as the sample kit. First, was explaining to my parents that I had to look for $140 to get started at a job that was supposed to be paying me $10.25.
- One thing that worked out though, was that my parents owned Cutco.
Q: What were some of the key lessons/experiences/things you remember from your time with Vector?
- When the host of this show (Dan Casetta) got a Hole-In-One on a Par 4.
- Vector helped me understand that receiving a College Degree wouldn’t necessarily make me successful.
- I remember watching people give talks during events, run training, and run meetings. I remember thinking to myself saying, “I can do that! I think I can do that! I think I can speak in-front of a group of people and be ok.” That was my first experience with public speaking, and my career basically in one way, shape, or form would involve public speaking, such as becoming a pastor later on.
- The most important thing I learned from Vector was that it was hard, and this prepared me better for future experiences in business and in life.
Q: Let’s hear a little bit about your path after you got out of College and some of the career experiences you had.
- I first worked in a B2B sales start-up company. Every company that I worked for was in advertising, so I got to develop a niche there.
- Sometimes you just keep working where you’re at and you’ll find that there are aspects in your job that you begin to specialize in. That’s where you might find that niche as far as your career goes. That’s when I started to enjoy my job more so.
- The thing I began to specialize in, something that I didn’t really realize that I had, was the math or metrics behind sales.
- Dan- …spending your time in your “super power”, and delegating other tasks.
Q: So, ultimately Joe, you decided to become a Pastor. What made you take on this calling?
- That’s the word right there, it was truly a calling.
- It’s so important that you love what you do.
- Every moment of my day is trying to change lives.
- It involves preaching, it involves individual counseling, small group development, and developing leaders and other Pastors as well.
- Everything you do as a Pastor is developing people, changing people’s lives.
Q: Let’s shift gears to February 2019. You were experiencing some issues with your hip. Let’s talk about what unfolded from there.
- A couple visits to my family doctor. I was getting random pain, I was coughing, all sorts of things going on. By the second time, she thought there may be a little more to this, so we had to get a scan.
- All of this was taking time. It really did drag on for a while. There wasn’t really any urgency from anybody.
- I learned that I had a metastasized cancer. I was educated on the fact that it wasn’t contained in a major organ.
- The thing I shouldn’t have done was go online. When you have these kinds of things, don’t go online. You might get bad news and it’s not that bad, or you might get good news and it’s not that good. Wait till a doctor can diagnose your specific situation.
- What was Stage 4 Lung Cancer? I was told that I’d have 1 ½ years left, but it wasn’t real to me. Once it hit me, I thought about my wonderful wife, Becky, without me. I asked my parents to take care of her.
Q: I’d love to hear how your thoughts & emotions evolved over the past year as you’ve taken on treatment.
- My thoughts are a work in progress. If I was approaching this selfishly, I’d want to go first.
- This has evolved into an opportunity for me, an opportunity to meet people where they’re at, to talk with people, as I’m able. I remain as active as I can be in my Christian community and in my Church. I’m no longer a Pastor and I don’t do anything regularly, but everybody virtually knows my condition, and I’m willing to talk about it.
- This all strengthened what I believe in. Of course this does impact those around me in a very positive way. When they see someone in this condition doing all that they can, I think it inspires others to do the same.
Q: What is it like for someone so young to consider their own mortality?
- My age ultimately doesn’t matter.
- If I could get your listeners to do just one thing it would be just that. To consider their own mortality.
- The problem that I have sometimes is every question that you ask of yourself, every answer that you seek, every way in which you want to improve has to do with this life right now. To ignore the fact that you are mortal, I’m afraid, is not being realistic. Somewhat foolish. I have that faith that gives me a confidence that I think most people don’t have.
- I do think there is something valuable when you go to a funeral, and walking through a cemetery. Ask yourself, “Why am I here?”. Ask yourself these big questions, do the research for yourself. It is that important.
Q: What else have been some of your thoughts or challenges that you faced as you entered into this season of your life?
- There are some physical things.
- To get used to people serving me and taking care of me. Things I should be able to do. Not being able to do things on my own. Sleeping is hard.
- I still love life, I still love being able to talk to you.
Q: Tell us about your optimism for the future.
- My answer to that question straight-up is I don’t know how I could be optimistic, outside of my faith in Jesus Christ.
- The first doctor told me that the first step is to get myself comfortable with dying, but he ended up being a little bit off. There was a targeted therapy drug.
- There isn’t any reason for anyone to give up right away. Today’s treatments are way better than just 5 years ago.
- I could get to remission, then live 2 more years in remission, and what are the chances that someone right now isn’t working on some kind of Stage 4 Lung Cancer drug to lead to my next remission?
Q: What other advice would you have for others who are experiencing a challenge like this or for anyone in this audience to hear who may end up experiencing a challenge like this?
- Go to the doctor, don’t put it off. I did it out of stubbornness. I knew I was sick for probably 3 years before I was diagnosed.
- I know people don’t want to know the bad news and I know that people have skepticism about doctors and hospitals and things like that, but I’m talking about things of a serious nature that will kill you. Those things need to be treated.
- The longer we put them off, the more we put ourselves at risk.
- In the same way, make sure you take care of yourself spiritually too. Don’t ignore the problems.
- It would be my joy to help your audience in any way. I just want to make myself available.
Q: What do you think you would want the world to know about Joe Shupp?
- It doesn’t matter what the world knows about Joe Shupp.
- What matters, Dan, is what we learn, what we pass on, and what we teach before we pass on.
- Do we model what we say we believe? If we don’t, then what we pass on is not going to be very helpful.
- Find a good friend that really knows you well and have them really shoot straight with you about who you really are so that your message is really effective.
- Use the adversities as opportunities.
- Find what you specialize in and spend time in your super power.
- Don’t ignore the problems, take care of them now. Don’t wait when you can fix, treat or even prevent situations in the future.
Show Notes for this episode were provided by Daxton Camero.