I made a new friend recently. During our conversation, he told me about his decision to walk away from a very successful business because he felt God calling him to something different. He did not know where God was calling him, but he knew he had to follow. I think you can draw inspiration from his story – whether you have ever considered walking away or not.
Mark Cress’ Story
In 1993, Mark Cress was part owner of an Inc. 500 company. At 37 years old, he was extremely successful and it appeared he had nothing but blue skies ahead. But then he started to realize that God was calling him to something else. Once he and his wife made the decision to follow God’s call, things changed rapidly. Within months, he was walking away. He had sold his business to the employees, sold his house on the lake, and enrolled in seminary. In less than a total of three years, he had started the organization that is now Corporate Chaplains of America.
Corporate Chaplains of America (CCA) now ministers to more than 800 different business locations. Those locations represent thousands of employees served on a weekly basis. Can you imagine the impact God is having through this organization?
As I listened to Mark tell his story, I saw a few clear parallels to my own story. At the same time, God sent us down different paths.
All of my life, I had been working toward taking over my family’s business, an automobile dealership group in Georgia. In 2001, I was General Manager of two of our seven locations. I planned to expand and take the company to new heights! I had visions of grandeur and everything looked like it was headed that way. But when I began spending time in God’s Word, I realized that everything I wanted and was working for was only temporal. None of it would really matter in 1,000 years.
I realized I was only giving God the Christian requisite one day per week (actually, just Sunday morning) and an occasional Wednesday evening. The rest of the time was spent trying to juggle my job in the car business and my family at home. Even when I added the daily quiet times, God was still not the central focus of my life. This was not the way He wanted it!
Searching For Answers
I began searching for answers. If God wanted all of me, what would that look like? I had heard of people getting “called” into full-time ministry, but I did not feel that call. I knew of others, like Mark Cress, that were “called” into the mission field, but I did not feel that either. What exactly was God asking me to do? What was I created to do?
Was I Walking Away?
To tell the truth, I did not have a clue! I only knew I was not comfortable with the status quo and had to change it. I sat down with my father and explained that I was walking away from the business. Because I was already in a significant leadership position within the company, I told him I did not want to do it effective immediately. I wanted him to have time to replace me and make any other arrangements that may be necessary. This would likely involve downsizing the business and could take a couple of years.
I did not feel God calling me to leave right away, only to let go and be prepared to walk away. I had no idea where I was going or when. I only knew I wanted to be spending more of my time working for God – whatever that entailed.
Called To Stay In The Business!
Fast forward eleven years, and I am still in the business! It was almost two years after that conversation with my father that God showed me where He wanted me. Though I thought I was walking away, He showed me that He had placed me in the position I currently held for a purpose and a season. He wanted me to do all I had envisioned in ministry, but He wanted me to do it through the business. As a good friend recently told me, God wanted me in the car ministry!
So that is exactly what I am attempting to do. I have said it many times – I do not have it figured out. Yet I keep showing up. I am determined to allow God to have the eternal impact He desires, through this business. I am only the steward of this business for now. Until He changes my direction, that is the role I will play.
Eternal Impact Either Way
See, Mark Cress followed God’s plan and he is enjoying the fruit of that decision. There is incredible eternal impact coming from his decision to step out of his business and start CCA as a non-profit organization. For me, walking away is not in the cards (at least for now!). God has called me to stay in business and I expect there will be eternal impact from that decision as well.
My point is this…regardless of where God calls you, you can have an eternal impact. There is no reason to think that you have to be a paid staff member of a church to do ministry. Seek God’s guidance, but know that He just may want you doing ministry right where you are!
What would you do?
Do you think this move was too drastic?
Have you thought about walking away?