Personal Journey to Intimacy with God

A Christian Businessman’s Personal Journey To Intimacy With God…

My heart was deeply burdened many years ago for Christians in business. The business owners, the entrepreneurs, leaders and top managers, the sales reps — all the men and women in the marketplace who felt isolated, lost or purposeless in their jobs or vocations … what are they doing in their work life to experience true fulfillment? (Why was I asking this question, you ask? Hey, I was one of these seeking believers!) That’s the main reason I was asking God so many questions while I was working in my business. Something was stirring in my heart and I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

You see, in previous seasons of my business career, I’d spend 50, 60 or 70+ hours per week growing multiple businesses and I’d usually have two dozen projects at any given time to finish. So at the end of each week, or even when I put my head down on the pillow at night, I’d ask myself … was it worth it? Is there more to this life than busting my tail, making a living and providing for my family?

Sure, I’m a Christian. Yes, I have a really good relationship with my wife. I’ve been blessed with four beautiful young kids. We are active in our church and receive a lot of support from our church body. I meet with men before work in prayer groups or bible studies … my wife and I have hosted mid week fellowship groups on and off for years … so why was there still an empty longing in my spirit, especially while I was at work?

The RUSH Of “Doing The Deal”

I enjoy the rush of landing a big deal just as much or more than the next person. (What business guy doesn’t?) Getting a home run account, selling a quarter million dollars worth of services in a 90 minute presentation or doing a joint venture with another company worth 7 figures makes you feel pretty good – even semi “important” if you know what I mean.

I still get very excited even today when I finalize a big pay day and put a large chunk of money in the bank. Hey, it is OK to do well in your field of expertise. Many Christians get hung up on receiving large streams of wealth coming their way. They “self sabotage” their own deals and wonder why they never seem to make any big money. Yes, you can screw up God’s provision for your life. God wants us to honor Him by being good stewards of the gifts He has given us to use on this earth. We are to be funnels for financing Kingdom work. No need to get greedy. It is all God’s money anyway and He’ll make a way for you to get more and to honor Him in the process.

Let me make a confession though …. making truck loads of money is fun and all, but, truth be told, after a while, as B.B. King sings, “The thrill is gone!”… and you are left asking bigger questions than a few extra zeros in your bank account can answer:

What is my life all about and why do I spend so little time really walking with Jesus during my days in the work world? Outside of Sunday morning or meeting with a brother in Christ to pray or encouraging my kids to follow the Lord or whatever the spiritual activity is – was Jesus involved in my life? The answer for me was sadly – kinda yes … but, not really.

Oh sure, when trials come up or things aren’t “going as planned,” I (like most people) have a tendency to pray more or cry out to God compared to the times when everything in life is going along just peachy. I guess what I’m saying is — generally speaking — my life was not characterized by a REAL day-in, day-out communing with Christ. (More on what this ongoing, moment by moment walking with the Lord looks like later in this letter.)

We All Desire To Have PURPOSE In Our Life

In just a few short years, Rick Warren has sold over 30 million Purpose Driven Life books and has built a mammoth charitable empire on related “following God’s purpose for your life” topics. So obviously, people across the globe have voted with their wallets and are saying this whole topic of being PURPOSEFUL and following God’s plan for your life is important to them. Hey – I can relate. This has been one of the longings in my heart for years.

God, what do you want me to do with my life? God, I’m a business guy. This is how you wired me. You gave me certain gifts and talents so I would do well in the marketplace. But God, it seems so dry and you don’t seem present in the workplace. How am I supposed to honor and glorify your name in a place that feels so dark? I want to be purposeful about how I spend my time, but I spend 60% to 70% of my waking hours during any given week at work or doing business related projects … what purpose would you have for me during these hours?

What Happened At A Leadership Retreat For Marketplace Christians

In May 2006, I spent six days at a Joseph Company (JoCo) retreat for business people. JoCo is the business wing of the International House Of Prayer (www.ihop.org) in Kansas City, MO. There were small business owners, corporate executives, government department heads, teachers, city administrators, accountants, lawyers – all types of people, in all kinds of fields, from all over the world. One interesting theme common to most everyone in the room was one way or another, each person’s life had an “I’m in transition” currently in their story.

As for me, I had just stepped down as the President of my business a week earlier. It was a step of faith because I really wasn’t sure what God wanted me to do, but it was clear that it was time to step down and begin asking God those “purpose driven life” questions which had been burning in my soul for a number of years.

What was my purpose? Did I have a specific vocational calling? Was God going to give me a “heavenly” assignment? How would I use my workplace gifts in whatever I was going to do? Would I feel a deep satisfaction in my heart – even if I was spending a large chunk of time in the marketplace each day?

I Got Blown Away!

The agenda at this Christian business retreat was packed. After a full day of introductory lectures and testimonies, we took a dinner break and came back that night for the evening presentation. A young 29 year old woman, five feet tall, probably weighing 100 pounds or less got up to the microphone and God took over!

Have you ever seen that old Bose speaker commercial (or maybe it is a Maxwell audio tape ad) that has the guy sitting in his low-to-the-ground chair, wearing sunglasses, hair blowing wild in the wind, holding on tight to the arms of the chair – sitting in front of a speaker listening to music …. That’s the feeling I got – but it was the Holy Spirit just blowing His love right into my heart!

I couldn’t take it! … My cup was overflowing … I was drowning in God’s love (in a good way) … but it was so overwhelming; I couldn’t handle the power of God loving me so strongly! This young, small in stature woman preacher, full of the Lord, shook the room with the ultimate revelation of the Bridegroom love of God for His church. After an hour and ten minutes of “anointed” preaching, she looked down at her notes and said, “I’m on page one, paragraph one and I’ve got 30 pages of notes to cover tonight!”

We took a break so she could figure out what she would share in our remaining time together, which gave me just enough time to walk outside, call my wife and cry out to our home voice mail — “I’ve been ambushed by God’s love, it is too much for one person – I’m blown away!” That night, when I went to bed, I knew my heart had been changed forever.

Prayer And Intimacy With Our Heavenly Father

If I could sum up the rest of the week at The Joseph Company Leadership Retreat For Marketplace Christians in a few words, I’d do it this way: Turn to the Lord, repent where you need to, receive His love, love Him back, sit in His arms like a little child and begin a journey into the heart of your heavenly Father – through prayer and intimacy with Him.

Yes, we need to seek out our eternal assignments, purposes and callings here on this earth … and yes, we all want to be faithful and honoring to the Lord with the gifts and talents He has given us. And of course, there are many spiritual disciplines which we know are very healthy for our walk with Christ and we realize they are beneficial for purity and glorifying the Lord as we live our lives.

But, at the end of the day, all of that “spiritual stuff” doesn’t matter unless you have an intimate love relationship with the Father in heaven. If God’s love is not taking over and invading your heart more and more as you walk with Christ, your “old man” or selfish nature will find unhealthy ways to try and satisfy the deep down longings of your soul and bring destruction to your life.

Our enemy’s job never stops. Day after day, he tries to “sell” your heart on fulfilling your longings with things which are counterfeit to God’s love. If you are walking with the Lord (in prayer) through an ongoing conversation in your heart, you will know your heavenly Father’s voice … which means you will know what is NOT from the Lord as well. This kind of “spiritual hearing” only comes from being close and intimate with God.

The Marketplace Is My Mission Field!

When I got back to Charlottesville, VA (my home town), I felt like a missionary. The Lord placed a spiritual burden on my heart for Charlottesville. God opened my eyes in a new way to look at the city where I was born and raised. After college, I became a Christian here, got married, started a family (we now have 4 kids), worked in and started several businesses and now have a God-brought desire to focus on (and help others to see) what it means to be a Marketplace Christian wherever their marketplace happens to be for them.

One of the beautiful things God has done (and is continually doing) deep down in my soul, is opening the eyes of my heart to how much He really does want to share life with me, tell me what He is thinking, show me His heart, help me understand my part in His plans and build my faith in His power and His strength. In short, He has made me to be in relationship with Him so I can follow His leading – loving like He loves along the way – and to do whatever part God has set aside for me in His perfect and glorious plan.

Just as the runner in Chariots of Fire (Eric Liddell) said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure”… I now, too, feel the same way when I’m walking with God in the marketplace. God has so much REAL LIFE for us to experience throughout the each and every day. The vastness of His love and how He wants to use each of us to tap in to what He is already doing and use His power to blow through the marketplace for His Kingdom purposes …. It is just mind boggling!

There are a million options for those of us who are Christians to minister in the marketplace. However, the one thing that is NOT optional is PRAYER.

If you don’t talk to God and listen back to hear his voice (walking with the Lord in an intimate way) then you’ll be walking in your flesh and your strength. And if you have been a Christian for any length of time, you know “trying to do it yourself” (without God), is a disaster!

 

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