The Kingdom Investor

42 - Creating A Caring Company | Chris Patton

January 24, 2023 Daniel White Episode 42
The Kingdom Investor
42 - Creating A Caring Company | Chris Patton
Show Notes Transcript

Like all business owners, you want your company to achieve success. You offer excellent products and deliver extraordinary customer service. But is the company you’ve created offering the same exceptional care for your employees? Don’t forget that creating a workplace where employees feel nurtured and cared for is a critical piece of your road map to success.

In today’s episode, Chris Patton of His Way At Work, gives us a look at how companies can cultivate a caring culture in the workplace. As a business owner who has successfully reconciled his drive for business success with his spiritual responsibility, Chris offers guidance to leaders who want to build and nurture a caring company with an eternal perspective. If you want to create a company with a strong culture that values its employees and strives to serve and not only to succeed, click now because this episode is for you!

Key Points From This Episode: 

  • Chris’s overview of his background, his current location, and his current work.
  • Chris shares the exciting part of his work in the last week. 
  • Chris’s life story and his family business 
  • What is Chris’s life mission and how did he discover it?
  • How did Chris initially fulfill his mission to “add silhouettes” within his business and company? 
  • How does Chris propagate his mission within his current workplace?
  • Chris’s advice for entrepreneurs and business owners who are starting to build their companies. 
  • How to find accountability partners and mentors.
  • What is Chris’s greatest success in his work or business?
  • Chris cites a failure in his career and the lessons learned from it. 
  • Chris answers the mentor-minute questions.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

His Way At Work website

Eternal ROI Podcast

Send an email to Chris Patton

Business By The Book by Larry Burkett

Wisdom-Based Business  by Hannah J. Stolze 

God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School by John Cortines and Gregory Baumer

C12 Group

The Kingdom Investor Podcast on LinkedIn 

About Chris Patton

Chris Patton is the Global CEO of His Way at Work, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming company culture and implementing Christian principles in the workplace. Formerly, he was President/CEO and third-generation owner/partner of his family’s automobile business in LaGrange, GA. He is also the author of a blog –  By including the resources accumulated over his years of learning to use the business as a vehicle for ministry, as well as real-life examples from his experiences, Chris teaches readers of his blog how to run their business from an eternal perspective.



ANNOUNCER: Imagine taking your generosity to the next level, impacting more lives, and leaving a godly legacy for generations to come. Get ideas and strategies to do just that when you listen to these personal stories from high-level Kingdom champions.

The Kingdom Investor Podcast showcases business leaders who have moved from success to significance, sharing how they use worldly wealth for kingdom impact. Discover how they grew in generosity, impacted more lives, and built godly legacies. You'll find motivation, inspiration, and practical steps to grow as a Kingdom Investor.


Daniel White (DW):  Hello, and welcome to The Kingdom Investor Podcast. I'm your host Daniel White. Today I get to interview Chris Patton, who for 25 years operated his family-owned auto dealership group in LaGrange, Georgia. For years, Chris looked at the business just as a way to make profit. Then God revealed to him that there is so much more potential for life change within the business. Chris led the company through an incredible transformation and now works to help other business leaders do the same through his current role as CEO of a nonprofit called his way at work, which inspires and equips other business leaders to transform their workplace with God's love. 

If you enjoy this episode, follow us on LinkedIn at The Kingdom Investor Podcast. And now let's get right into the show. 


DW: Hello, Chris, and welcome to The Kingdom Investor Podcast. How are you doing today?


Chris Patton (CP): Doing great, Daniel, good to have, good to be here, and appreciate you having me on the show.


DW:  Absolutely. I've been looking forward to this. And Chris and I met, you were speaking actually at Asbury at His Way At Work event, right? Yeah. So, I was actually running late, and I missed the first half of your story. And so I'm really excited to hear the first half because the last half was great. So, anybody who knows me knows that I am not normally late. So, that's a very rare occasion. So I think I was in a meeting that went over something. 


CP:  Well, maybe God just spared you the 'having to hear it twice'.


DW:  Right, right. Yeah. So well, I'm looking forward to that. But before we get into your story, do you mind just giving us a little picture of who you are, where you're coming to us from and a little bit about what you're doing?


CP: Sure thing? Well, Daniel, I am the CEO of His Way At Work, a nonprofit ministry in the business world. I've only been in that job for about five years. Back in January, it will be five years prior to that. I was in a family business. And I'll go into more detail on that with my story, but in the family car business, third-generation business, and I'm coming to you today from Spartanburg, South Carolina. My original hometown is LaGrange, Georgia.


DW:  Gotcha. And what is one particularly exciting part of your work just in maybe the last couple of weeks or something you're working on right now that just really excites you?


CP:  Yeah. So I have, in the last five years seen a radical transformation and what God is doing in this small bit growing workplace ministry, but just in the last I will call it last 14 months, I've been to Rome, and to the Vatican twice. I'm not Catholic but have spent quite a bit of time in that in that world, and then have worked with business owners in 10, 11 different countries, and most recently, presenting to business owners in Barcelona and Madrid, Spain. The funny thing was Daniel, I get back from that trip. It was about a two-week trip between Rome and Spain. And one, I get a phone call or a web inquiry from a business owner in Texas, and the business owner there was looking at our system and our services. And I said, I asked him, I said, Julian, how did you hear about us? And he said, well, actually, let me just ask you a question. Were you just in Barcelona? And I said, yes, I was. Took me off guard. I got a cousin there that has a business you guys presented to them. And he called me that very day and said, hey, you need to look into this group in the US. That's not your normal prospecting or marketing funnel method but Hey, if it works, it works. The other thing I read that really excited me about this travel was in Romans 15. In quiet time reading the other day, I read about Paul, talking, writing to the Romans and saying, I can't wait to get to Rome to see you. I will stop by there on my way to Spain. And he said it twice in Romans 15. And I thought, man, I'm following into some pretty strong footsteps. So it's just it's an exciting time.


DW:  Absolutely. Chris. Thanks for sharing that. Would you pray for our listeners before we get started, and then we'll jump into your story?


CP: Sounds great. Father, we just thank you, for this day, for this time together. Thank you, for Daniel for the podcast, for the impact that he's having, that you're having through him. We lift up the listeners today that at any point in time, that they're listening to this, that you would prick their hearts, that you would just touch them in a special way. Help them to see the work that you're doing around them and the work you want to do in and through them. And in the work that they do. And I just pray that you would talk, speak through Daniel and not today. Take us out of the way and just put your words into this episode that those listening would be impacted. We love you. We praise you, in Jesus' name, amen.


DW: Amen. Thank you, Chris. All right. So give us your story. Share your story with us. I want to hear the first and the second half.


CP: Good. So I grew up as I mentioned a minute ago in the family car business. So I've got two younger brothers and no sisters. So, I was the oldest in the third-generation of that family business. My grandfather started back in the early 60s in South Carolina with a Volkswagen store. And then my dad followed him and my dad being the second generation really grew the business. At one point in time, we had nine different dealerships around the south side of Atlanta, Georgia, and down through into Alabama. And so I grew up in that. From 19 years old, I'm washing cars, painting curbs, picking weeds, cutting grass, that kind of thing and working in the business from a very young age. And that's all I ever knew. And I just assumed that's all I ever would do. You know, went off to college, came back, went full time back into the business, and had become a believer in Jesus Christ, a disciple at the age of 10. Prayed to receive Christ on my grandmother's green vinyl couch and we'll never forget that. So, it was real to me. 

CP: But it was at 30 years old that I realized, hey, I've been a Christian, I grew up in a Baptist church, and bounced around after that. But growing up there, I knew the scripture, I knew the truth. It was important to me. But two different things that were not happening. One, I was not studying God's word. I did not have daily time of reading His word. You know, the pastor said, turned to Matthew, I turned to Matthew, but otherwise, I wasn't opening the Bible. And secondly, my wife, my life was compartmentalized. So, I had my if you imagine a Dixie plate that you take to a picnic, you've got the three different compartments there. In the really big compartment where you put dessert, that's where I had my work. In the middle-sized compartment where you put the entree, the meat, that's where I had my family. And in that little tiny vegetable section is where I'd put God. And, I knew the life ahead was out of balance. But as I'm reading the Bible, I started at 30, I started daily quiet time and as I'm reading six months in Daniel, I started to realize how out of balance it was. But here's what I thought, I need to increase the size of God's compartment. 

CP: And so I started trying to figure out what that would look like and quickly came to the realization that I was going to have to leave the car business. At that point, I was president of the company, had been running that business for our family for about five years at that point, five or six years. And I thought I had to leave it because I was six days a week working on business and in my world, you couldn't combine business with politics, religion, or SEC football, right? Those just don't mix. So, but I had to leave the business. Told my dad I would do so, that I needed him to replace me. I was not leaving immediately, but gave him notice of that. And he started selling businesses to partners, dealerships to partners. 

CP: Until two or three years later, I came back to him and I said, listen, God has really worked in me. He's made me realize, he doesn't want a larger compartment on my plate. He wants the plate. And actually it was his plate, I just had to acknowledge it, and that means that 

he is the center of my family. He's the center of my relationship with anyone, and he's the center of my work. And while I might not work for a church and draw a check from a religious organization, it is still his business. He's the owner of it, I'm just a steward. And therefore, he's got purposes for it. And he's gonna hold me accountable for those purposes. So, this was in 2003. And it was about three years after I started this quiet time. And I went back to my dad and said, Listen, if you'll have me stay, if you'll allow me to stay, I want to, but here's what it's gonna look like. I've got to run this business as if it is God's because it is. And I've got to figure out how to have an eternal impact with this business, actively treating it is one of the talents in the parable of the talents. I've got to invest it and see eternal return. 

CP: Obviously, I have to have short-term return or there is no business. Yeah, I started trying to figure out what does this look like? He said, I'll support it. He said, you know that I didn't grow up doing that. I don't know what that looks like.  He's a believer but just didn't understand what a business for your eternal return looks like. He said, so I can't help you. You're gonna have to figure that out on your own. I said, well, I think he'll help me. And I gotta believe that if he wants me to do this, he'll help me. So you know, that was in '03-'04. Fast forward over the next 10-15 years, I stumbled around the dark for a while,11:30  found groups like C12, brought a chaplain into the organization, did a lot of really good things in the business. Because it boiled down to this Daniel, I studied Scripture as much as I could to figure out, one, what is a God-owned, God-driven business? What's the end goal? What's the scoreboard to know if you're winning or not? I'm competitive and business minded? How do I win? Yeah, what in profit, profit is necessary to keep the business going it, healthy profit for a healthy business. But God owns all the money, so he doesn't need mine. 

CP: So, I studied through scripture, I looked for something he doesn't yet have, but still wants. And the only thing I could come up with is that God does not yet have one thing, but he still wants it, or wants them. And that is the souls of the people who have not yet come to a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. He's given them the freedom to choose otherwise, but he wants them to choose him. As I'm thinking through that, I'm like, but I'm not a church. You know, this is a car dealership, or this, I can't, can't do that. So I'll put that off to the side for a little bit. And I kept looking, I found a passage in First Corinthians 3. And Paul was writing to the church there at Corinth, and he says, listen, I've come in, I've laid the foundation for Christ or the foundation for your lives, and it is Jesus Christ. He is the foundation on that foundation, you're going to build some will use wood, hay, double straw, others precious stones, jewels, but you're going to build on that foundation. And whatever you build is going to be tested by God's fire on that day on Judgment Day. And Paul goes on to say, if what you have built survives the fire. In other words, it's not physical, it doesn't burn up in his fire, it's eternal. He says you're going to be rewarded for that. But if what you have built burns up in the fire, doesn't safely get through the fires, it's physical, it's temporal. He says, you'll lose the reward. Now you will escape, but just barely. 

CP: And so I'm trying to reconcile these two ideas. This idea of God wants the souls. And this idea of God's fire testing everything that we build with our lives. And this is the picture I got that crystallized for me what my view should be, what my goal should be, the scoreboard of a business owner. So I'm picturing our dealership group at the time. I was in charge of three businesses there in LaGrange, a Ford dealership, Ford Lincoln, Honda dealership and Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram, about 19 acres of property all adjacent. And I'm picturing it on a Saturday. Now, if you've never been in the car business or been in a car dealership, you won't know this but Saturdays are the most fun. I mean, there is activity going on everywhere. And I'm looking at this say at a thousand foot view, a thousand feet above the property, kind of a drone-level view if you would. And I'm seeing this happening on a Saturday. I see people all over the place buying and selling cars. I see people working on cars, you know we've got the music going so you can kind of get the energetic beat, and I can smell the popcorn because we're trying to create this carnival atmosphere. And then of course there are balloons everywhere because everybody knows balloons sell cars, right? 

CP:  So, all this is happening on a Saturday and all of a sudden, bam! It's tested by God's fire. And I'm looking at this 19 acres. What's left? Well, if God's fire passes through that same, nothing's left, there's not a building, there's not a car, the F250s and F350s. It took them a little longer to burn, but they still burned up, right? And so there's nothing on this entire 19 acres, but scorched black earth. Except for one thing, as I looked closer, I realized there were hundreds, maybe thousands of silhouettes of people dotting that 19 acres. And I realized in that moment that those silhouettes represented the souls of the people that we would impact for eternity by the way we operated the business. And my job description right then and there became two simple words - "add silhouettes".


CP:  So, I'm CEO of a company, 120 employees, my job description is two words - "add silhouettes". Run the business. Let's make decisions, allocate resources, strategize, and do business in a way that impacts the greatest number of people for eternity, starting with the employees and their families, but also stretching out in the community, and even to the world. And so I didn't know what that look like, I don't know how to do that exactly. I knew we weren't a church. And I told you I wanted a scoreboard. And God showed me that, hey, the silhouettes, that's the score. The problem is, I won't be present to know when they become a silhouette impacted for eternity. And I'm not the one that actually does that work. That's the work of the Holy Spirit. 

CP: So, what God showed me is I don't have to count the silhouettes, I don't have to have the score on a scoreboard, I just need to play as if I'm running up the score. Just don't let us put the floor. And so, for the next 15 years or so that's what we did. That's how I ran the business, trying to figure out in each and every situation, how do I impact people. How do I point them to him, not with a bullhorn, not hitting them overhead with the Bible, but just loving them? And so that was my goal, adding silhouettes for the next 15 years. Well, I get a call in 2017 October, a mentor of mine, Danny Mark Chris was the founder of corporate chaplains of America. And they provide chaplains for businesses. And we had one of their chaplains and had that check for 10 years at this point when he called. And so I'd met Mark. Mark had become a mentor of mine. And he said, Chris, I've got a friend. In fact, he's the best friend I have on the planet. He's a guy named Peter Chrysler in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Peter runs a business much like you do, he's the second generation in that business, and he's very successful. But he's also spun off a nonprofit called His Way At Work.

CP: And the goal of his way at work is to teach other business owners how to do basically what you're doing in your company. He's interested in finding a business person who also has a ministry heart and have them to come on board as CEO of the organization, would you be willing, at least to talk with him? And I said, Mark, I gotta tell you that I'm the oldest of three boys. I'm third generation, and president of the company now for 20 years. I got a pretty good gig, and I'm looking over my bucket list and running a nonprofit is not on it. In fact, I didn't even think about putting it on there. But if this is God's desire, if God is willing for me to do this, then I can't say no. So certainly, I'll go talk to Peter, meet him and listen. And then if God makes it crystal clear, I'll jump on, I won't hesitate. But he's going to have to make it clear. It won't be because it's an interesting deal. 

CP: So I met Peter, found out that we are brothers of a different mother and we have a lot of stuff in common. I was blown away at some of the methodologies that His Way At Work has that was almost identical to what I was doing in the in our company, but also several key points that were very different that frankly, I realized those were secret ingredients that I needed and didn't have. And I'll say about those in a minute. But basically, because you and I were talking, you know, the end of that story is God made it crystal clear. And so our first meeting was the first week in November of '17. The very beginning of January of '18. So about 45 days later, we put our house on the market in Lagrange, sold it in about three weeks. And I was in Spartanburg on the 15th of January working. It took a while for my my wife to follow me up. She was a school teacher had to finish out the year. My kids were all in college at that point so didn't have to move them. And I've been here now five years coming up in January getting to be on the front lines, watching business owners engage our services. 

CP: And I went from adding silhouettes, Daniel, to multiply silhouettes. Because now I get to, to inspire and empower other business owners to do the same thing. And every time we pick up one business owner, that's another 100, or 1000, or 10,000 employees and family members that are being impacted. And so our organization has been in existence since '08. I've been here five years now, we are in nine different countries. And if you figure roughly three family members per employee impacted, we're just shy of 400,000 employees and family members being impacted by the businesses that we represent. And it's phenomenal. It's just amazing to be a part of it. And, you know, I'm asked often if would I go back into the car business. If God dragged me back in, I certainly would. And I love the business. It was good to me, to our family. But I am absolutely right in the middle of where he wants me and I love it.


DW: How many people did you say have been impacted?


CP:  Just shy of 375-380,000 employees and family members.


DW:  Wow, that's really cool. It's really neat. Yeah, that's, that's an incredible story. And I'm glad to hear the whole thing and, and really hear how God has used you in that. Can you share maybe a little bit of what you started out doing and in the business to add silhouettes? And then maybe, then go into what you're recommending now?


CP:  Well, yeah, that's great. So I just started, and I really, I had no earthly idea. I didn't know there was even an industry out there with groups and organizations like his way it were C 12 and others. I just knew what God was putting on my heart. I was a student of the Bible. And I read a book by a guy named Larry Burkett from years back How to Run Your Business By The Book. And his recommendation was start with Proverbs. Open the book of Proverbs, put on your business glasses, and assume that somebody has handed this book to you as a business manual. And that's how you need to read. And so I just started doing what I read. And you know, the very first thing I read in that in that book was chapter one, let's lie in ambush and take the loot from somebody that is not suspecting and maybe not picturing a car deal. The negotiating system. Not that negotiating in itself is bad. But so many dealers and so many salespeople in that industry, take advantage of situations with customers. So we eliminated the negotiations. We went to one-price system to take any of that back-and-forth gaming away from the deal. And to just be pure and upfront, straight up pricing the windshields. That kind of thing. 

CP: Hard, hard to do. It's like standing on the left side of a baseball, home plate, holding the barrel of the bat and swinging with the wrong hands. I mean, it's just it is so upside down from what I was used to. But the key was I wanted to make it about the customer, not about the profitability. And God was showing me that. Not for everybody, but it was for us. That was one example. Bringing chaplains in was huge. I thought when I first started that I could just open the door to my office, make the announcement around the place that hey, my door's open. Just come see me if you have challenges. I'd love to counsel with you. I'm the one signing their checks. They are not gonna walk in the door. Hey, boss, I've been meaning to tell you I got a drug problem. I'd really love some prayers and help on that. You know, they're thinking, I'd kick them out. Marriage issues, or I've got financial issues and I've been stealing or you know, who knows, but they just, it was crickets. Nobody, you know, one or two would come in here and there. But I realized I needed somebody who, one was fully, completely confidential that was trained in how to counsel and meet with them on certain needs, but also knew enough when to direct them to more professional help. And we brought in corporate chaplains back in 2007. And probably one of the best decisions we ever made. They're still operating there. 

CP: Since they've been there, there have been somewhere around 25 professions of faith from employees. Just hearing, seeing evidence of the gospel and saying I want to be a part of that. We did very low pressure or no pressure Lunch and Learns. We bring lunch and or biscuits in for the morning crew. And anybody that wanted to step into the conference room, grab a sandwich or grab a biscuit and watch a video and have conversation around spiritual topics, we did that. We didn't force it. I didn't go and keep attendance, we just offered it as a voluntary thing. And we'd have out of 120 people, we'd have 30 to 40 people a week show up to those deals. A lot of things like that. We did a lot in the community as well. But here's what I would I want to transition to and I mentioned a few minutes ago, there were a couple of key pieces of the His Way At Work methodology that we missed. I completely missed, but they're critical.

CP: So if you're a business owner, and you want to do something like this, one, this is what we do, we coach companies on how to do this, I've even we've even got a podcast annual shameless plug called Eternal ROI, where we share stories of these business owners doing this. But here's what I missed. Number one, the employee and their family should be the primary, at least the first focus. So it's no different than, hey, I want to go into the ministry. But I got to focus on my family first, right? And so many pastors over the years have been pressed so hard by members of the church to minister to them, and the kids get overlooked? Well, 

as a business owner, we've got to start at home. One, with our family, for sure. But then with our employees, right there in the business, loving on them, caring for them in a way that says, Wow, that's unusual, I don't see that happening elsewhere. Why are you doing this? And then bam, you've got an opportunity, right? So the focus first and foremost on the employee, and their family is key. 

CP: Number two, I had a ministry team. It was made up of myself, our chaplain, my brother who's a partner in the business with me, and then our CFO who was a strong believer. And that ministry team, the four of us met on a monthly basis and tried to figure out different ways to love and care for these people and the community. The problem is, we were trying to meet the needs of employees that we could not easily identify with, right? We were in higher level positions, and we're trying to meet the needs of guys that are changing oil for $15 an hour, or doing work in accounting, you know, and title work, and so forth living check to check. And I think I know their needs? And that was just a miss. 

CP: And so we were doing some good, but there was so much fun done that we didn't even know. And here's what His Way At Work does is we teach business owners how to set up a caring team made up of entry-level employees in the business. And those employees are given a charge, a vision for caring that comes from leadership to this team. And this team is given a budget to carry out that vision. And so we teach these teams of entry level employees, you know, say, 100-150 employee company might have a caring team of five to seven people. They're given a budget. And they're shown by us how to set up activities and programs that over time will meet the needs of those fellow co-workers, employees and families. 

CP: Well, those entry-level employees know the needs of their peers. They have some of the same needs. It's easier for them to source those needs, and they don't, they are intimidating to their co-workers like if I share a problem, then I'm gonna get in trouble at work, right? It's, it's not that way. So having those employees source the needs and be that team and giving them the charge of the budget, empowering them to make these decisions. It's unbelievable what it does to the culture of a company. And they are the engine then that drives the ministry. And so for example, if I'm CEO, I've got some pretty high-level topics that I've got to address on an ongoing basis, am I going to acquire another business? Are we going to market differently? You know, what about cash management as COVID hits? Different things that are difficult, that if I'm focused on that, and ministry, the ministry part is going to go by the wayside for a period. If I've got a team of employees that are entry-level that are focused on that, while I do these other things, that caring continues, and they take the burden of all of it off of me, and they're better at it. I know that's a lot but when I recognize some of those things, and how much we had missed in our company I just knew as a priest special combination. 


DW:  Absolutely. Yeah. I think that's, that's very helpful. And then one of the things I was reading this morning Stolze’s book Wisdom-Based Business, I don't know if you're familiar with her work. 


CP:  She's been on our podcast. 

DW: Oh, really? 

CP: Hannah is a rock star.


DW:  Yes. So I'm loving her book. It's really cool. And I think she's coming on soon too in the spring. So. But yeah, one of the things that I came across this morning is just her talking about how most of the time we think of, you know, business, the profits are for the Kingdom. And so we just need to run a business, make money, and then give it to the kingdom. And that's the only way we can be involved in Kingdom work. And, you know, she really is, is kind of highlighting the emphasis on actually, the making of the money has so much opportunity for Kingdom impact, life on life discipleship, and, and all of that. So, really thinking about that is the kingdom work that, that we have opportunities for. So maybe, can you speak to that for maybe? 


CP:  Yeah. So a couple of things there. One, I used to think, CEO, and it doesn't matter what job you have, that I would do the business work, so that I could then one you hear from, frankly, you hear from the church. And it's not intentional, but it's just the way the messaging comes. Your job as a business leader or owner is to make a lot of money and give it to Kingdom work. Just what you said. And yes, that is part of your responsibility. Jesus did the same thing. He did the work of healing and, and providing for physical needs while sharing the truth. He didn't just walk around and preach, say it and say now, if you have needs go somewhere else, right, he's meeting those needs to get their voice, or get them to listen to him. 

CP: But also, as a business owner, business leader, when I was doing the work of the business, if I'm trying to sell a car, if I'm doing a spreadsheet, if I'm signing payroll checks, all those tasks, feel like work. But if you're operating a business, if your whole goal, and your life is not compartmentalized, and your whole goal is to impact the kingdom, then even the most menial, mediocre, mundane tasks are Kingdom tasks. You're doing ministry in that work. But you're also when you when you run a company this way, and you share with the entire employee base, listen, we exist to make good money, but we too, use that money to care for others in a way that honors God. You put them in a place where they're part of something bigger. And not only does it benefit more people, but it engages the employees in a way that they need to be a part of something bigger. They don't just want a job where they make money for the boss, they want a job where they have an impact on people. Even if they don't believe in Jesus Christ, they can buy into that vision. And so I just encourage you to change that perspective, as Hannah is saying, and look at every bit of the work being done as ministry work. And when your employees get the chance to do that work for something bigger, they get to feel more fulfilled, than just what the paycheck does for them. 


DW:  Yeah, that's really cool. And I think, you know, for me starting out in business, and not having not even having a clue that people like you existed or people that were using their business and all of the influence within the business for ministry. And I was just like, I didn't, I didn't even know. And so, you know, I started the first business with just, you know, be a good person, you know, kind of, and use the profits for the kingdom, but not really, as a ministry. So that was really Yeah, it's really helpful. So, for somebody who is an entrepreneur, they're getting ready to start a company or they're in the early stages of a company. What are some of the things that maybe you would recommend that they keep top of mind when, when planning and building out that company?


CP:  Yeah, so number one, the very first thing and I mentioned it earlier, you need to come to the realization that it truly whatever you start, it's God's. He's given knew every ounce of talent, ability, intelligence, personality, and everything you have to work with to create a business. He gave you and it's his business, therefore, he's got purposes for it, and you're going to be held accountable for how well you meet those purposes in executing. So starting with ownership and stewardship in mind. He's the owner, you're the steward. Absolutely, the first step you have to accomplish. 

CP: After that is taking what he's been putting on your heart. And even if it's preliminary, and you end up changing it later, figure out, "What is my purpose statement for this business? Why does it exist? Why am I doing this?". It's not, shouldn't be, for my material benefit so that I can be wealthy and enjoy a comfortable life. Certainly, it's provision for your family and for those around you. But what's the purpose of the business? Why are you not taking money and just putting it into the stock market? Why are you starting a business? Lay out a purpose statement, write it down, focus on it, tweak it over time, but that's the North Star, right? That's the North on the compass, because that keeps you focused when times get difficult. And lay out a set of core values. 

CP: And these sound like normal MBA business-type steps, but it's all there for a reason. They are litmus tests, they are decision-making tools. As you go forward, and you're looking to add your second, third, or 20th or 40th employee, you're making decisions with the same purpose statement and core values. And to me, without those foundational things, it's so easy to get off course, off track. And then the other thing I would recommend, there are probably 10 other things we could discuss. But the other is, find some serious and engaged accountability partners. At least one or two peers outside of your business that you're able to share the raw and ugly with and they won't judge you for it. But they'll hold you to what you've said you're about, and they will question you on things. And they'll call you out when you're stepping out of bounds. But they'll do it out of love and having frequent, you know, I'm in a couple of these groups on a weekly basis. And I would not trade them for anything. And it's been that way, in different settings with different people for the last 25 years. Having that accountability is critical to keep you on the right track.


DW:  Is that something that you find or create or start? What is what does that look like? Are you really detailed within the business and like, or what does that look like? 

CP:  It's all the above. Okay, so for me just giving an example. I moved from Georgia to South Carolina, and had spent the prior 20-something years in Georgia, growing up there knew everybody in town. And I had accountability partners in that town. One was my chaplain, which I didn't anticipate when we hired them. Corporate chaplains, I didn't know that that chaplain would be able to meet with me at my level, not that I'm this incredible person, but that I have bigger responsibilities in the job. And I just didn't know that they would have that ability. But they did. So he did a great job. And he was one of the partners. I had a friend from kindergarten that was a business owner that I engaged in that same thing. So that was one set. But I had others from the church. Similar age, I had two or three that were older 10 to 15 years older. And I would go to them with challenges and problems and confess things and just say listen, I'm struggling, I got a problem over here. I'm weak in this area. What do you do? Well, I moved from that, Daniel. I didn't have a soul in Spartanburg that I knew to start off with. So I had to find it. So when you say do you just jump into it or create it? Well, when I moved here, I had to create it. And fortunately, you know, maintained accountability with the group in Lagrange for a while. And then once I was able to find some here, I bridged it and cut that loose and engaged here. But, my recommendation to any entrepreneur, business owner, leader, whatever, find it or create it, but don't ignore it. Don't go without it. 


DW:  Yeah, that's really helpful. And I think it's, it's another thing that's very lacking. And so if you don't know that, you should be, you don't even know to look for it, or to create it like you said. And a lot of times you do have to create it. 


CP:  I think, you know, in doing that you find people that are of your age, and some that are much older, similar beliefs, more mature in their faith. And you just walk up to him and say, hey, would you be interested? Would you be willing to get some of your time. And always be on the lookout for those that for me, I've got kids in their early to mid-20s. I'm looking for those that have kids in their 30s and early 40s. What did they do over the next 10 years that I need to be thinking about? And man, it's amazing that the, not just in family, but also do the same thing in business, but the potholes I've missed, and been able to avoid the sticks in the eye that I've been able to avoid because of that. Invaluable.


DW:  Alright, so what is the greatest success that you've seen in your work or your business?

CP:  For me, the thing that sticks out in my mind right now is the decision to move from the family business out of the business itself into His Way At Work. And the reason I cite that, one is, I just got through telling you, I've had accountability partners and mentors for the last 25 years. And when my wife and I went into that process to decide, are we going to step away from a family business that I'm embedded in and go run a nonprofit with people I don't know, that's a big decision. And instead of going to mentors and accountability partners, she and I kept it to ourselves. And we prayed and we fasted about that decision. And my reason is I told her, I said, I don't trust myself, not to spin this in some way. And I don't even know what I want. Do I want to leave? Or do I want to stay? I really didn't know. So we prayed. Just the two of us, didn't tell a soul. Well, told my brother, my father, because they were partners want them to know what was going on, possibly, but didn't ask for advice. Just my wife and I. 

CP:  And we prayed for about 30 days, as we gathered information. And my prayer was this, God, I need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, without any question that this is your will for us, not my whim, or some shiny new object. But this is your wheel. Because I don't know when or how but let's say six months from now, I've taken this job. And it gets ridiculously hard. And suddenly we hit a brick wall. My wife and I, whether it's in the job or personally or whatever, I want to be able to know for an absolute clarity that I can look back to the decision and know it was you not me. And if I know it was you not me God, then I'll be able to deal with it one and two, I'll know that you've got my back. If it was me, I'll start thinking, well, maybe I've made a mistake. And I need to go back or I need to to abandon or whatever. And Daniel, we did that. He made it ridiculously clear and kept confirming it for six months after we got there. And it to me that process. I didn't create that clarity, he gave it. But the success for me was for my wife and I to avoid the temptation of telling a lot of people and asking for a lot of advice and getting confirmation. Instead just looking to Him. And so I would cite that.


DW:  All right now the opposite. What about failure from your career that we can learn from?


CP:  Well, it's pretty much the opposite. When I don't listen to God, and I take control, and I force things and I can give you any number of examples of that, you know, just a small one. So maybe not the greatest, but the one that comes to mind. So I'll share. I mentioned the one-price environment, right? We took the negotiating out of the car deal. And my office was in the Ford building on the showroom floor and I can hear these car deals happening, right? So we've said no negotiating. And we've told the salespeople if you negotiate a penny then you're risking your job. Don't offer to buy Coca-Cola for the client to close the deal because then what we have said integrity-wise is gone. Then we are negotiating, and we've lacked.  

CP: So, I'm listening late one night I'm there it's like nine o'clock at night, the customers are being difficult and they had finally agreed to buy the car but they wanted a tank of gas. And we had already told him how much gas would be in that vehicle. And they wanted more gas. And after about 20 minutes of them wrangling over it, I walked out and I sat down and I thought I'll come in and close the deal. And I am not lying within three minutes. I said, tell you what, I'll give you $10 of gas and we'll close and they closed just like that. We signed them up I walked back in my office and it just hit me in the face. I did exactly exactly what I've been telling everybody we don't do. One, because I underestimated how hard it was to sit right there face to face and say no, even though I've done it all my career in some way or another. But it was crushing to me, I just cried at my desk. 

CP: So the next morning, I came in, and I went department by department, I would do a monthly devotion. And it just so happened, God's providence, that next morning was my monthly devotion for the whole company. And I'd go department by department and share a five minute spiritual truth embedded in a worldly story. And so this story was what had happened to me with the guests the night before. And I just said, I'm confessing to every one of you that I lied, screwed it up, I made a mistake. And I'm asking forgiveness for it. And I'm telling you that we're going to change the gas policy. But we're going to stick with the fact we don't negotiate. And the response I got was tremendous. But it was it was not that I failed. But it was the response to that failure and being willing to just be humble and say, you know what, I'm human, just like the rest of you.


DW:  Wow, that's, that's really good. That's some real talk there.


CP: Well, I'm not proud of it. And I, at the time, I was devastated. But I think it was, it was a good learning experience for me for sure.

DW:  Yeah, yeah. And I and we really do learn, I feel like we learn a lot more through mistakes and failures than we ever could through success. So all right, so before we enter the mentor minute, is there anything else that you want to share with our listeners?


CP: It would be just to reiterate the ownership-stewardship deal. Daniel, that's so critical. I don't want to belabor it. We've talked a lot about it. You've had other episodes about it. But that is the primary question as a business owner, we have to wrestle with until we not figure out the answer, but come to God's answer. It's clear, he's the owner.


DW: So, I guess, going in just a little bit further into that, because I think you can understand, in your mind, you can understand it, but not live it. So how do you get from understanding to actually living out that?


CP:  Yeah, that's a great question. It's a hard decision. I understood it. I understood it. For years, you know, I've read the passage, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, he owns the earth and everything in it is the Lord's. But I just did practically translate that into if he owns this business, and I believe he did. But if he owns it, what does that mean? I've never stopped to say, what does that actually mean? And so you can understand it intellectually, I can understand a lot of things intellectually that I haven't yet bought into in my heart. And when we come to a place where we are willing to surrender everything, and recognize that he's the owner, we submit to that, until we do that, we're not going to act differently. And, you know, it may even be that I understand it and say, well, that means I've got to give more money. When he's actually saying, what are the greatest commandments? It's love me and love the people around you. And you want to live that out in a business. It's not about just giving money, it's about loving those people who are brought to your business that have unbelievable needs.


DW:  So, do you think it has maybe something to do with I'm trying to think, even in my own life, and also, in other people that I've seen, make this transition. Do you think maybe some of the, I mean, I guess, you know, God wants us to make this transition in our heart. And he asks us to do things that are maybe even counterintuitive, from a business perspective. But if we obey and do that, and step out in faith, then we're really showing that we actually do believe that and that he is going to take care of the business, even though we're doing something that we know that he's calling us to do, but it does not make sense. It's actually the opposite of what you would do in in business logic, I guess. Do you think that has maybe something to do with it or that's kind of the beginning stages or?


CP: I think so I think it's it's even further rooted in our desire to control and the way we despise being told what to do, even more so in America than anywhere else I've gone, we are our own man, I'm a self-made man. I'm in control, I make the decisions, whether it's in my household or in my business. And yes, God, I know, God helped me along this way. But I built this business, I was the one there every day, I poured in, I dedicated, I'd sacrificed. And so there's a lot of that going on inside of us. When we come to realize, I mean, it's go back to the heart thing. It's a challenge to make those decisions and to do something counter to what we believe is logic. But when we realize that, one, God's economy doesn't operate like ours. Adam Smith described economics but not from God's perspective. And while those laws of economy work in a typical free market, when you inject God, and his ability to change anything, and put favor here and bless this, I've made decisions that did not make sense on paper. 

CP: I've stuck with decisions that did not make sense on paper and even look disastrous. But he blessed the effort, the willingness to do that, the obedience. And sometimes I've said this before, sometimes you give God $5 and he hands you an apple, you don't get five back or 10 back, you know, I can't outgive God. I gave him you know, $100 in this decision, and I got an hour of peace. And you know, it's not apples to apples, it's sometimes he gives you blue. It's just, it doesn't make sense. My point is, it's an eternal picture. And it really got clear for me when I realized what God cares about is what's happening in a thousand years, not in the 30-day statement. So he's gonna ask me to do things that don't make sense in 30 days. But he's playing a longer game than I am. And I gotta trust.


DW:  Chris, that's, that's really insightful. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Before we go, can we do the mentor minute? All right. The first question is, who is the most influential person that you know, and how have they impacted you?


CP:  Well, I've mentioned a bunch of mentors, accountability partners. You know, my dad had a huge influence on me. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention him and his faith and his commitment to doing the right thing, even when it costs him. And he was a model for me in that. But I would also add, the one that I mentioned earlier, Mark Chris, who made the phone call to me and said, hey, you need to meet my best friend, Peter. Mark, for six years prior to that had been a mentor of mine, for the last five years since then,` continue to be a mentor. And my wife and I have visited with he and his wife, Linda multiple times over the years. And I can't come away from those visits, whether a weekend or a day, without some new insight or new, something that I want to change about my life to be more like what he's doing or revising. It's just been, he's been a well of wisdom and knowledge for me and a man that has sacrificed a lot to follow God. So yeah, I would list those two as critical.


DW:  And then what book or podcast would you recommend?


CP:  Well, I've already mentioned the Eternal ROI Podcast, ours, so I won't do that. Well, actually, I just did, didn't I? No, I would, I would say, book for me. And this is somewhat off course but not. It's a book called God and Money. And it is it was recommended to me a couple of years ago, in a C12 group. I started I got a chapter and a half or two chapters into it, and stopped, ordered a second copy, gave one to my wife and the two of us read it together chapter by chapter. And that book turned upside down my personal approach to finances and giving. And a couple of Harvard MBA students wrote the book as they were looking forward to exiting Harvard with tremendous upside income potential, and how should they steward the money that they would make. And the questions they asked in that book, I've been a giver and trained to give all of my life and that book turned me upside down. Everything's been different for the last two years in the way I budget personally and through spending, saving and serving.


DW: And then the last one is what is the greatest lesson in leadership that you've learned? 


CP:  I will say this, the best compliment I've received and I haven't received this compliment, often enough for me, or early enough in life for me, like more later, and that is anytime that I've been willing to listen, and obviously listening to the Holy Spirit and making decisions that most likely weren't the ones I wanted to make but I felt led to make, when people are able to see that, especially those closest, that's when I feel like I'm being the best leader. I've always been a reader, I've always been a student of whatever I'm doing, I can make pretty good decisions, for the most part, I have been a little bit wiser than my age. But I always make the wrong decision when I'm not listening to him. And so there have been a few times where I know I've done something completely different than I wanted to people recognized it and saw that it was him leading through me. So when I can let go open-handed with the decisions, I think that's the greatest blessing for me and what I still struggle to follow. But when I do, it's powerful.


DW:  How can people connect with you or get involved with His Way At Work?


CP:  Good question. So I will list the His Way At Work website is HWAW, the initials for his way at work, And you can go on there and do an assessment. If you're a business owner, and kind of get a quick idea of what it is we look at, then recommend the work we do. You can also contact us there through the website, I get those directly, and can respond to that email. My email address with His Way At Work is


DW:  All right, Chris, how can I be praying for you and your family?


CP:  Wow. We don't have the time, Daniel. Short version. Yes, short version. I've got two grown kids, but none are married. And I've just would ask for prayer for wisdom and guidance as I navigate this next season. And I'm not eager or pushing for grandchildren but I've heard from enough of my mentors, that man, it's the greatest part of life. So just wisdom in navigating that was my life. And then for the organization, for the business that His Way At Work, there are a lot of really good paths that we could take in the next one to three years. And I need prayer for discernment to take the best paths. There are a lot of good ones I need to whittle that down and, and through discernment know which one two or three to take, even though all of them look good. And this is one of those times where I've got to submit to Him and let Him lead that.  is free to pick them.


DW:  Yep. And it seems like you're growing in that area. So just try next challenge. Right? Exactly. Good. So let's pray right now. God, I thank you for Chris and his family and his way at work. God, I pray that you would continue to use them to advance your kingdom to love on people to add silhouettes. God, I pray that you would be glorified through them. Lord, I pray that we would they they will take what we learned here today and use it to to impact people to lead businesses and, and to further your kingdom. God, I thank you for this time. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 

Thank you guys for listening to another episode of The Kingdom Investor Podcast. We'll see you next time.




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