We had been working well together for just over a year, Dad the mentor, me the understudy. I imagined learning from him for at least another decade - that was until I received a call from the police department on a chilly February morning.
We had been working well together for just over a year, Dad the mentor, me the understudy. I imagined learning from him for at least another decade – that was until I received a call from the police department on a chilly February morning.
Dad, age 67, had been found slumped over the steering wheel of his car, the victim of an apparent heart attack. Characteristic of my hard-working father, he was on his way to work. At age 26 I had been thrust into the daunting task of leading the family business.
Then, only a few months later, a call in the middle of the night brought the incredible news that our factory was on fire. Only a valiant effort by our local volunteer fire department kept the plant from being totally consumed.
These two events had a huge impact on me. I had always been able to rally my own strength and abilities, but now my confidence was deeply shaken.
In spite of the great example set by Wendy and her family, I wasn’t sure where to turn. God seemed so far away. Some said getting closer required “a leap of faith,” but my mind firmly instructed my feet to not leap anywhere.
What held me back? Was it pride? Was it all the things I knew were wrong in my life? Could I ever be worthy of God? Months passed without answers. Work challenges continued. I found myself discouraged and confused. But quietly, persistently, I sensed God was drawing me to himself.
Small things happened to encourage me. Someone would give me a helpful book, or I’d hear a speaker who would answer a key question. Was I getting closer to seeing daylight?
The breakthrough came when I finally realized there was but one way forward and that indeed it did require a step of faith. I concluded I wasn’t going to resolve this dilemma in the way I normally handled problems.
For the first time in my life I let go, yielding to God as fully as I knew how. I said, in effect, “Lord, I don’t believe I need to have everything figured out beforehand. I trust you, and I want to be fully yours. I release myself to your care.”
What followed was amazing. I experienced a new kind of peace, certain that God had accepted me just as I was – my intellectual hang-ups, my sense of unworthiness and all. I hadn’t earned it. I didn’t deserve it. But he took my cautious step of faith and, in return, welcomed me with open arms. He was no longer distant. I felt washed, clean – for the first time, rightly related to him. Though there was much I had yet to understand, I was convinced I had finally come home.
As I looked back I could see a clear pattern. God had been at work for as long as I could remember to bring me to himself, guiding choices I made, friendships I developed. His hand had been on me. He never imposed nor compelled but waited patiently for me to see my need and respond.
My world changed. It was soon clear this new relationship would reach beyond my personal and family life into every arena, including my work. To my amazement, I found I could integrate Sundays into Mondays with great benefit to both! That practice, now spanning over 30 years, has reshaped our company’s approach to everyday business, from customer relations to our care for people to handling finances to retooling our core values.
Over the years our small business has grown to become the leader in our industry, and we’ve diversified by developing new companies. We now employ 650 people and generate over $100 million in sales. Our “experiment” – bringing faith and work together – has enabled us to help other business leaders around the globe who are on a similar journey.
Now here is the key point.
Even though I had no idea how my life would be different, that step of faith – when I released myself to God and to his care – was a turning point with immense implications. That’s what I want to focus on in this website. Join me in an examination of this most important of all journeys.» Part 3: A Business Analogy