My dad grew up in a poor pastor’s home. My grandfather pastored small Assemblies of God churches all up and down the east coast of the United States. Sometimes the church had actual money for his salary and sometimes they would have to pay him in chickens. Live chickens.
My dad has vivid memories of my grandpa “preparing” their dinner on an old tree stump out back and literally watching as a “chicken with its head cut off” ran around the backyard.
My dad didn’t want us growing up that way.
So he set out in a different vocational journey. He had a natural intuition for business and entrepreneurship, and his goal from the time he was a young business student at Evangel College in Springfield, Missouri was to one day have a million dollars in the bank. That’s a big number today, but it was even bigger in the mid-60s. And he was well on his way as co-owner of 9 nursing homes back in the 1980s. He eventually sold that portfolio and spent some time in the restaurant business and with other entrepreneurial investments.
He just had a knack for recognizing opportunity and the willingness to undertake the risk and go after them (that’s second part is where most aspiring entrepreneurs fall down). My dad was experiencing the personal success he always wanted, and he was having fun doing it.
But in the early 90’s, his passion for ministry began to percolate in a unique way. He began having creative discussions with a real estate developer-friend and the pastor of our church, and together they conceived of a business model designed to underwrite global missions initiatives.
My dad stepped up to lead the day to day development of Community Reinvestment Foundation, a housing nonprofit that works hard to provide high-quality affordable housing to people who need it while committing half it’s cash at the end of each year to global missions projects around the world. He wasn’t a pastor like his father before him, but he was beginning to see his business acumen as a sacred calling. My dad was leveraging the way God designed him for God’s glory.
By our best estimates today, CRF Affordable Housing provides quality affordable housing and assisted living for between 5000-6000 people, and has given over $7.5 million to the work of the Kingdom around the world.
My dad is my hero. He made that million dollars he dreamed about multiple times over, it just isn’t in his bank account. But my dad is, hands down, the richest man I know.
He doesn’t worship his business, so his business has become his worship.
Your work doesn’t have to look like my dad’s to glorify God. You don’t have to start a nonprofit or work for a missional business startup, but you do have to confront your idols.
We don’t worship our work, we worship God. And when He is in His rightful place our work becomes worship.
Marketplace work is not a “less than” or fallback Christian life, it too is a sacred calling. I would love to see 1,000 more men and women like my father rise up and lead 1,000 more missional businesses to the glory of God!
Is He speaking to you?