Photo by Lang Thomas Photography
Eight years ago I left the corporate world having served as the President of Kentucky Fried Chicken for five years and as a Senior Executive for Yum! Brands, operating Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. When I left corporate I was coming out of a very dry season – emotionally, physically and spiritually. I didn’t know if my marriage was going to make it. Thankfully, the Lord led my wife and I to a counselor who helped restore our marriage by teaching us how to pursue one another and rekindle an emotional connection and intimate relationship. Not only is our marriage restored, but we now coach other married couples who are struggling.
But there was also the question of what would I do with the rest of my life after leaving corporate? I wasn’t quite 50 years old, I couldn’t sit still very long and didn’t play golf. I had served as the Executive Pastor for my church but I didn’t want to go back into “ministry” at the church and I didn’t want to go back into business. I prayed “Lord, help me know what to do.”
Around this time the Lord began to show me that I was half-hearted in my love for him. My faith had become more about a set of “guidelines and guardrails”. I had book knowledge and head knowledge of God, but I didn’t really KNOW Him. I didn’t have experiential knowledge of God. Because if I really knew God I couldn’t help but love him.
A turning point occurred when I attended a Faith in the Marketplace workshop and witnessed a man praying an adoration prayer. I had never seen anything like it before. It felt like I was listening in on an intimate conversation with his spouse. It reminded me of some of the ways our marriage was restored. I knew I wanted that kind of love for God, that kind of intimacy. I started praying adoration prayers, prayers about the nature of God, that God is good and faithful, that God is my advocate and my defender, that God has a plan for my life.
My wife and I felt the Lord call us to start adoration prayer and worship nights in our home. The first night we had 22 people. We held these worship nights quarterly and more people started coming – around 60-70 people– so many that we needed to move our furniture out to accommodate the people. The Lord led us to buy a barn, Iron Bell, and we began to host worship nights there every month, gathering together to adore God in a time of extended worship and prayer.
The Lord continued to teach us out of intimacy and love. We were learning not only more about God but were also learning about who WE are. The Lord taught me about covenant love and not having to perform, that intimacy requires not only the right view of Him, but also the right view of myself. You won’t grow intimate unless you know there is no guilt or shame; that we are sons and daughters. We learned to operate FROM value not FOR value. (Romans 8:14-17 “for those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again, rather, the spirit you received brought about your adoption to Sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father”. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are His children then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…”)
As time progressed my wife and I realized that these truths needed to be shared, specifically how to fulfill the first commandment “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all you mind.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and that as sons and daughters we work from value, not for value. Also we felt led to teach about how to fulfill our Ephesians 2:10 purpose in life; that His Kingdom can be expressed by partnering with Him in everyday work, everyday life. As God was doing a work “in us”, he then began to do a work “through us”. A ministry, Iron Bell Ministries, was born out of that journey.
As you partner with God to work out your purposes in life I think this final story can give you great perspective. I used to think that God gave me a game plan and then said, “Go get em champ!” Now, I know that instead God holds my hand and says “Let’s go get em champ!”