What is your role in advancing the kingdom of God? Do you know and understand your calling? Our episode today may hold the key. John Rinehart joins us to talk about Gospel Patrons - someone who is personally and financially involved in supporting Christian leaders who proclaim the gospel. You may not be a preacher, a pastor, or a minister but God has prepared a part for you to play.
John shares the concept of being a gospel patron, which is the subject of his book and ministry, and tells stories of gospel patrons who have made a significant impact in advancing God's kingdom. He reflects on the joy that comes with giving and how it is a quick path to finding true joy in one's life. Learn why living for oneself and advancing one's own agenda is not a path to true happiness and recognize the traps that hold us back from being gospel patrons.
Key Points From This Episode:
“When God raises up someone who's going to be the messenger, He's also going to raise up someone who's going to carry the means.”
“If you want to be happy, the way to find happiness is to learn to be generous, to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, take a step of faith, to love and bless people.”
“We make mistakes, we hurt people's feelings. We don't do things the way we wish we could do them. We have regrets and we learn from them. But don’t get stuck in the fear of failure. Don't get stuck in the mistakes that we've made in the past. Keep going. Keep getting up. That's the mark of courageous and strong leadership.”
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Purchase the book: Gospel Patrons by John Rinehart
Purchase the book: Giving Together by John Rinehart
Craig Groeschel's Leadership Podcast
The Kingdom Investor Podcast on LinkedIn
About John Rinehart
John is the leader of Gospel Patrons. He started his career in business, pivoted to seminary, and took his greatest step of faith to write the book "Gospel Patrons." Since then, God has used John's books and speaking to help many business leaders and professional people find their unique calling within God's kingdom. He and his wife Renée have a son and a daughter and they love traveling the world.
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 we get the joy of speaking with John Rinehart. John is the author of Gospel Patrons and Giving Together. He founded a ministry to help equip and inspire others to become gospel patrons. John shares wisdom gained from his success in his early years, traveling the world and having incredible mentors who invested in him, or as John says, deposited their lives into him.
If you've enjoyed the show, help us reach more listeners by sharing with your friends and writing a review. And without further ado, let's jump right into the show.
DW: John Rinehart, welcome to The Kingdom Investor Podcast.
John Rinehart (JR): Thanks excited to be with you.
DW: So would you share maybe one thing you're really excited about just right now in this season of life?
JR: Well, I have a 13-and-a-half-year-old and a 12-year-old and it's just fun to have kids in middle school. It's fun to have kids who have good character and they're excited about life and soccer and basketball. And really fun to be their dad, I treasure all the days and moments that we get together. So super thankful for my two kids, Willow and Malachi.
DW: Awesome. Yeah, we have two kids. We have a third one on the way, so.
JR: Oh, okay.
DW: Getting started. But it's been a blast.
JR: That's great.
DW: So John, would you tell our listeners just a little bit about you? And you know, maybe where you're coming to us from?
JR: Yeah, well, hello, everyone. Nice to meet you guys, digitally, I guess. My name is John Rinehart. I wrote a book called The Gospel Patrons and that mushroomed into a ministry that we've been leading from now for almost a decade. And really, the ministry has been aimed at helping those of us in the body of Christ, who are not pastors, not missionaries find our part to play within God's brought our work. And so it's been such a journey for us. It feels like an amazing blessing of God. We brought the five loaves and two fish but he just keeps multiplying them. And so it's the biggest wave we've ever written. We're trying to stay on the board and God keeps doing more than we expect. And we're trying to be faithful to steward this growing movement of business leaders, professional people around the world who are saying, wait a minute, this is my calling. This is what God made me do. This is my part to play. And so just excited to continue that ministry or this conversation. I hope this is a blessing and encouragement to you all.
DW: John, I'm already excited. This is great. Before we dive into more, would you just pray for this time and for our listeners?
JR: Yeah, thanks. What a cool, I've been on a bunch of podcasts, never been asked to do that. So thanks. God, we believe in the power of prayer. We believe that you can do things that we can't do. What's hard for us is simple and easy for you. And so Lord, you know, where each of us is struggling, where each of us is stuck, you know, the lies that each of us believes are the false beliefs that we've held up till now, you know, the ways that we're attacked and tempted and struggling. And so, we invite you to all those places today. And ask that you would shake us up, wake us up, set us free, and allow us to go forward in the things that you've called us to for your kingdom. I pray that this conversation in particular, would be like a refreshing rain for all who are here and that there would be just something unique in it for every single individual. We can't do that, Daniel, and I can't do that. But you can. And so we surrendered this to you and ask that Jesus, your blessing will be upon in Jesus' name. Amen.
DW: Amen. John, would you share what Gospel Patron is?
JR: Yeah, a gospel patron was a totally foreign concept to me. It's hard to share what it is without sharing a bit of the backstory. But I think we'll get there a little bit later. The Gospel Patron really is someone who's invested and involved in another person's ministry in order to advance the gospel. We really see those three components - you're invested, you're involved, and looks forward to spreading the gospel. So, this is often going to be someone who's behind the scenes, gifted at making money, gifted at what they do at work, whether it's a nurse or entrepreneur, financial planner, someone who's in the corporate world, someone who's gifted leadership and management, and they're, they're saying, 'How do I fit within the body of Christ? I don't preach sermons. I don't cross cultures, I don't learn languages. I'm not good at evangelism. And you say, oh, maybe God has put you in the position he has within your work within your job, within your field. And he's blessed you with the influence and the affluence that he's given you. Not so that you could build your kingdom but so that you could build his. Not so that you could advance your name, but so that you can advance the name of Jesus.
God has made us all amazing parts of his body. He didn't make us all the same by design, thank God, we are unique and special and different, designed by the maker of the universe, and he has a part for us within his body. But what I've heard over and over for a decade is that business leaders and professional people and people who aren't in quote-unquote, vocational ministry, often are somewhere in the back of their minds believing that they're a second-class Christian. That if they were really serious about their faith, they'd go varsity and join in, you know, join the mission field, or join the church staff. And that seems to indicate we think there are one or two parts of the body that are better than the rest. And I just don't see that in Scripture. I don't see that in how God's worked in history. And so we're raising the flag for a new generation of people to see their part within the body. And so you're invested. You're involved in the spread of the gospel by supporting and partnering with others in ministry.
DW: Yeah, that's really good. The book is one piece. But then the ministry is really I guess, more all-encompassing. Can you kind of maybe give us a little bit of details on the book, and then some details may be on the ministry as a whole?
JR: Yeah, Gospel Patrons, the book is, it's a blue book. You can get it on Amazon Kindle, Audible, if you want to listen to my voice for three hours, or you can get the beautiful clothbound hardcover book on GospelPatrons.org. And what it is, it's really three historical stories of how God has worked in the past through business leaders who are at the strategic center of where God was at work. And so there are three British stories ones from the 1500s, two from the 1700s. If you don't like history, I promise this is not a snoozer, it's a fast read. But what it does is it helps us see that to be in business or whatever vocational industry or field that you're in, you can be, not just to be a Christian in that space doesn't mean just following a bunch of biblical principles like, don't lie, don't cheat, don't sleep with the Secretary, don't steal money, just be moral and good and good at your job.
But, it's somehow these stories for me when I first heard the really the seeds of them they took they took me way past just principles, and they captured my imagination for how God can use business people. So the book is that. I've written a second book called "Giving Together". "Giving Together" is an adventure in generosity. It's a journey you can take with a small group of people, whether that's your family, coworkers, friends, business partners, a small group from church, whatever it is. And over seven weeks or seven months, however, you space out the various exercises, you can read a short chapter together and take a step to grow in generosity. And I say generosity, something that's going to change you and change the world.
And so those things happen at the same time. That's the book, also available at GospelPatrons.org. And on our website, where we try to do is to create an online platform for Christians who are potentially gospel patrons. And they can find all kinds of free resources there that we've spent years creating and hundreds of thousands of dollars to create. We are supported, our ministry is supported by patrons so that we can give these things away for free to equip you on your journey. So I think we've got 10 short documentary films that are each about 15 minutes long. We've got a series of almost 30 interviews with modern-day gospel patrons and asking them questions like - What's one key habit in your life? How do you treasure Jesus more than wealth and success? What's one thing you want to be remembered for? Or if you had to sum that up in three words, how would you put that together? We have articles, interviews, and sermons. And the books are all found at GospelPatrons.org. And that's meant to just be an online address. We don't have a headquarters you can come and visit. But you can visit there 24/7, bring your friends at any time and we're happy to give a lot of that content away for free.
Right now on the homepage, and I don't know if that will be true when this thing launches, but right now there's a film called More Than A Pro. More Than A Pro is a 13-minute documentary film about a former NFL kicker who kicked in the NFL for 13 seasons for the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Steelers. And as his career was winding down, he, you know, for a lot of professional athletes, they wrestle with what's next. I've spent my whole life getting good at this one thing, and they pay me a lot of money to do it. But what do I do? I'm 40. Now, what do I do with the rest of my life? And he went on a journey. And God took him on a journey for how to use his influence and how to use his affluence to serve some of the least-reached people on the planet and God's birth and incredible movement through them called eliminations. And so it's the backstory behind this movement, and the NFL kicker and his wife and how God led them to not just accumulate their wealth for the sake of their own pleasure and comfort but for the sake of rallying others to serve some of the least-reached people in the world. It's a really cool story. Hope you'll check it out.
DW: Yeah, I'm definitely gonna check that out, John. That does sound really impactful. Do you have maybe another story that's similar to that, or maybe from the book, you could share one of those stories?
JR: Well, another film that you may want to watch just because it's just so powerful is there's another one on our site called This Book Is Alive. And it's a 12 to 15-minute film about the gospel patron behind the YouVersion Bible app, which has been downloaded, I don't know, half a billion times or more now. And lots of people use YouVersion on their phones or their tablets, devices. What we don't realize is that that app and all it's been able to do to reach into, I don't know, 1700 languages and be opened all around the world every single day, wouldn't have happened had a business leader who was actually, he's part of the Hobby Lobby family in Oklahoma City, a guy named Mark Green. Mark Green came alongside the founder of YouVersion at a really critical moment. And Bobby Grunwald was the founder of YouVersion. And after the YouVersion launched, and just, you know, they thought, well, really, this is something that Mark Green came alongside them. And the Green family of Hobby Lobby came alongside them with initial capital and funding, but also friendship, and the ability to open doors to get a lot more versions of the Bible in there and then a lot more languages. All of those rights to all of the different Bibles are owned by the people who translated and published them. And to get them to agree to give it away for free was a really big deal. And no one guy could have done that on his own. And so it's a really fun story of how God had led this, this business family who wasn't expecting to be a part of something this massive to come alongside that at a critical moment, and launch it and keep it free for the whole world. Can you imagine the cost of keeping that going? I know that Life Church sponsors some of that but the Green family's influence has really led the way to make God's word accessible all over the world for free.
DW: Yeah, that is incredible. And I think we had, we interviewed another guy on the podcast, for hearing that story from a completely different angle. I think they, they were some of the people that maybe were able to get some of those versions and different things and translations, and so that was really cool.
JR: That's awesome. Yeah.
DW: So John, would you tell us a little bit about the Genesis story behind Gospel Patrons?
JR: Yeah, absolutely. It started with a midlife crisis I had at 25. I studied business in college, so did my wife. We both came from families that were into business. And after I graduated college, I began to work in business as a sales rep. Got good at it. God's hand was upon my work. And by the time I was 25, God had blessed us to pay off all of our student loans, supposed to take 15 years, it took 18 months. And I got promoted four times. And all of a sudden, I was looking around going, okay, what am I supposed to do now? I made more money than I thought I could make at a young age, paid off all the debt, which was very motivating for me to go to work. But now that I'm debt free, and I'm 25, why do I go to work? What's the purpose? Is it just to chase money? And if I got more money, then what do I do with it? What's it for? And how does that fit within the kingdom of God? And so I was really struggling with that. And not knowing the answer to that.
So, I had a season of really soul-searching. What am I supposed to do? And I felt like I couldn't get answers to those questions anywhere I looked, even though I knew godly people, had been to a great Christian university. And it just wasn't coming together for me. And so I thought back in the back of my mind that maybe business people were second-class Christians and in order to have real purpose, I needed to go to seminary. So I did. I left the business, quit at 25, walked away from a really good income. And I went to seminary and I got a Master of Divinity degree over four years, which was Greek and Hebrew and Theology, New Testament, Old Testament, pastoral ministry, preaching classes, all of it. And I just knew that whatever came next I wanted to be more grounded in God's word. But I think the deeper part, I was looking for purpose.
And while I was in seminary, I was really debating like, what is this like? And I had one class in my ethics class where we talked about the moral goodness of business for half a day. I loved it. I was like, I've never heard this before. But then that lecture moved on. And we talked about other things. And that was my one sort of moment in seminary where it just felt like those two things could possibly collide- faith and business. Well, wrapping up seminary, I didn't know what I wanted to do after I didn't feel a particular calling or open door toward pastoral ministry. And so I said to my wife, hey, we've been chasing my dream for four years, what's your dream? And she, out of her heart, spilled the beautiful answer that changed the trajectory of our lives.
She said that, ever since I was 13, I dreamed of traveling all the way around the world in a single shot in order to become a global Christian, and to learn to walk by faith. That's what's spilled out of our hearts and I thought, that's incredible. That sounds amazing. We were 29 years old at the time I said, it's probably now or when we're 65. Let's do it now. So, I finished seminary, we packed up all of our belongings and we traveled the world for four and a half months. And the whole time I was really wrestling with what do I do when this trip is over. God, what do you have for me? I was in this liminal space, where I was done but I wasn't starting something new yet. And I thought I had business on one hand, I had a ministry on the other and I was pretty sure those things didn't overlap or intersect at all.
Meanwhile, we're visiting Christian missionaries anywhere that we went. And we were trying to see how God was at work all over the world. And so it wasn't just sitting on beaches, we were trying to connect with missionaries, leaders, Christians, and businesses, all different kinds of people and just worship with them in their local context and see what God was up to in order to become global Christians. And I had a friend who was a missionary in India who introduced me to one of his friends who was a business guy in Sydney, Australia. By the time we got there, my wife and I had been traveling for four months around the world. So we show up in jeans and sweatshirts at his fancy office building in downtown Sydney. And he walked out of the doors of this private equity office and had silver hair, gray suit, brilliant smile, very successful. Turns out he's one of the founders of this massive enterprise. And he says, let's go down to coffee. And our mutual friend had said, you know, when you meet him, I want you to ask him about an idea called gospel patrons. And I said, I don't even know what that is. And he said, don't worry, just ask him. I think it'll really resonate with you.
So when we got together, I asked him about gospel patrons and over coffee, and he said, behind every great movement of God in history, God raises up someone who's going to proclaim the gospel, someone who's going to carry the Word of God like a torch into the darkness. That's the kind of missionary pioneering leader, pastor, church planter, Bible translator. We know a lot of their stories, he said, a lot of their biographies have been written. But the deeper we look into history, what we find is that those pioneering heroes of the faith were never lone rangers. God always raised up gospel `patrons to support them. These are people gifted in business, making money, being generous, partnership, and support. And when those people come together, God does incredible things.
And so he began to tell us the little seeds of these three British historical stories of business leaders behind the scenes and to me it was this lightbulb moment where it combined these two areas of passion for me in a way I had never seen before. Wait, you're telling me that God, this is a role within the body of Christ? This is a part to play within the kingdom of God. That God has uniquely and specifically designed people to succeed in their careers and in business and in making money for the sake of His gospel, advancing his church being strengthened and the Great Commission being fulfilled all over the earth? Why have I been in church my whole life? Why have I been in seminary? Why have I been to a Christian university and had great mentors? And why have I never heard this?
I was so fired up and passionate about it that when we finished that trip around the world, I came home and I was telling everybody about this idea called gospel patrons and these little seeds of stories. And it resonated. The idea was electric. And there was Holy Spirit electricity behind it. And I ended up writing to my friend in Australia and said, you need to write a book on this. This is too good to keep to yourself. He said, oh, it's in my 10-year plan. I said, hey, I've been in business, I can't wait ten years, this has gotta go. So then he said, well, why don't we start writing it together, which to me was very intimidating, but also an incredible honor.
And so we did and after a period of a few months, he had four kids, a massive business, he said, you know, I can't really keep up, why don't you run with the idea? And so I did. I worked with no income for 10 months. And in the 10th month, God provided me with a gospel patron from my church very unexpectedly, a business leader who heard about the project, and God called him to financially support me to write this book. And through that, our friendship became really sweet and he's still one of my closest friends to this day. And through it, God has born a lot of fruits. So I got to live out the very thing I was studying from history and seeing in Scripture, that when God raises up someone who's going to be the messenger, he's also going to raise up someone who's going to carry the means.
DW: That's powerful, John. Thank you for sharing that story. So, thinking back over, over your life and the experiences you've gotten to have and the ministry that you built through this, what are some of the highlights and some of the successes that you can share?
JR: Yeah, well, I was writing the book, and I didn't really know what was going to come after that. I was an unknown, unknown guy with no social media platform or anything like that. And nobody knew what a gospel patron was. So we ended up launching the book via the Kickstarter program. We printed 5,000 books. I honestly thought, who in the world is going to buy these? Like, my mom, and my grandma, is anybody else gonna buy these books? And God just immediately surprised us, within five months, 5,000 books were gone. And they went to 20 countries around the world and different business leaders who are believers were writing to us saying, this is me. How have I never heard this language, how have I never heard these stories, but this is what I felt inside my heart for so long. You've taken away the guilt that I'm not a second-class Christian. You've helped me see my part within the body of Christ.
And so, I started getting invited to speak and books kept selling. And so I think one of the amazing journeys has been to see in an hour up to I think 45,000 books have sold. And God has just continued to multiply these five loaves and two fish to different leaders around the world. But I think even more exciting than on book sales are the stories that we hear. I just recently received an email from a guy who read the book and was fired up about being a gospel patron. He was very successful in business. And he began to say, who can I support? How can I leverage the resources that God's given me to not just wait for somebody to ask me to then you know, wait for fundraising dinner, but, but actually be proactive and go after it? And what he did was he found a guy who was really effective at reaching youth. And he said, hey, during the COVID pandemic, lots of people are on their phones, lots of people are at home online. How can I get behind you and help you create content that's going to spread on YouTube and Instagram and Tiktok to reach the next generation? Answer their hard questions, show them what the Bible says. I'll be your gospel patron. I'll fund us, I'll get behind you. So he did that, loved it, they experienced great success.
And then he goes, well, what else can I do? Well, let me hop in and get behind a ministry in Uganda that's serving orphans and telling them about Jesus along the way. And then it was a skateboard ministry and then a ministry to veterans, and then his church. And then a variety of things just kept popping up and went on - one guy, one man, one woman activated into their calling, is capable of so much good. And we've heard stories like that over the years again and again, of God taking this message and dropping it into someone's heart. And people that move forward with the kind of passion that's unleashed that you don't necessarily need to direct them. Do this, give here, go there. It's just, okay, God, I'm available. And God says, okay, great, I'll bring the opportunities and the people for you to support and get behind. I think God so often is waiting for willing servants. God is looking for people to use whose hearts are already committed to Him. And when he finds those people, he brings them open doors, opportunities that might seem small, at first. It might seem like a little step to start supporting one missionary or to come behind your local church or to be consistent as a giver, you know, to supporting orphans. But it's those little steps that really do add up to incredible life change for us and then for the world.
And so, along the way, gotten a lot of opportunities to speak at fundraising events for a variety of amazing ministries, who will gather their gospel patrons once a year and invite them to contribute, you know, to their ministry fund over the next year or two or three, and they'll bring me in to help the gospel patrons connect the dots. Between who they are, how God's made them, and then the opportunity that we have to bless and advance God's kingdom. That's been incredible to see hundreds of millions of dollars be committed at events like that over the last seven or eight years, to see money unleashed for God's kingdom, and it get to the people who, you know, are the ministry leaders and pastors and missionaries. But they're often wondering, like, how is God going to provide? Well, he's going to provide through people, people who have a calling, people whose hearts are stirred, people who are generous, people who are putting their treasure in heaven and not keeping it stored on Earth. We got to see a lot of that and it's been remarkable.
DW: That is remarkable, John. So what do you think the greatest joy of being a gospel patron is?
JR: Well, I think there's joy in giving. If I were to say, what's the quickest path to joy I know, it's giving. It's when we live for ourselves, there's not a whole lot of joy. When we live to advance our own agenda, or our own kingdom, or even just live to put out our own fires and deal with our own stresses, there's always more. But there's something about when we in faith, look to God and turn outward to give our lives away that we find life. We find a life that's truly life. It's a paradox of the kingdom, that if you seek to save your life, you'll lose it. But if you seek to lose your life, you'll find it. When we give our lives away, God's Spirit rushes upon that with a kind of joy that I can't explain. I can't explain outside the fact that the God of the Bible is the greatest and most generous giver there ever has been or we could ever imagine.
And when we see what He's like, the fact that in our sin when we chose to rebel against him and live as enemies of God, his solution to that is not to give us a list of rules. Now to keep his solution to that is not to have us try to climb some spiritual ladder to someday be worthy of His love. His solution to that is to give his one and only Son to step down from heaven. Enter into a messy world, live among us, as one of us incarnate in the flesh. God in the flesh, walking among us, healing our sicknesses and diseases, casting out demons, teaching us spiritual truth and eternal truth that we could no in no other way, showing us what God is like. What kind of God are we talking about here? That he would love the world so much that He gave His only son? And then we look at Jesus and we go, man, what was he like? Well, he laid down his life for us. He gave us his body, he gave us his very blood. And then He sent His Holy Spirit as a gift to us to be a comforter, a counselor, to convict us of sin, and call us back to God.
He gives us a Kingdom that's never going to be shaken. He gives us eternal life, which won't be taken away from us. He's promised us a future and a hope. Wait, what do we do to deserve all of that? And the answer is nothing. He's just that good. He's just that generous. We cannot over-exaggerate God's goodness, we cannot over-exaggerate his generosity. It the very fiber of his nature. For God so loved the world, he gave. When we see that our God is like this, it absolutely transforms our lives. Most of us have never seen God as generous before. We've been lied to by our enemy. And he's told us that God is cheap and miserly and holding out on us and trying to steal our joy and take away our fun. That's not the truth. The God of the Bible is the one who says he loves a generous giver because he is a generous giver. The God of the Bible is the one who said, it's more blessed to give than to receive.
If you want to be happy, the way to find happiness is to learn to be generous, to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, take a step of faith, to love and bless people. And you know what, one of the simplest way you can practice being generous if you've never practiced it before is smile. To give a smile to a stranger is a form of generosity. It is to greet someone you don't know. And just say hello, good morning, how you doing, whether you walk into work, or you get into the office, or you're at school, or you're on the bus. Jesus calls us to greet strangers. And he says, yeah, everybody greets their family. Everybody greets the people that they know and love. But my people, they live differently. They greet those that they don't know. That's a form of generosity. It's a form of showing kindness where the other person didn't deserve it in any way, didn't ask for it and couldn't earn it.
And so learning to practice generosity, you can start really, really small. I never teach on tithing. I never teach on percentages of giving, but I think the tithe, or 10% is not an ending point of our giving. We don't arrive at 10% and then set it and forget it for the rest of our lives. I think the tithe is a great starting place for giving. Learn to give 10%, learn to trust God. Put 10% to your church. And then beyond that, go big. Give to missionaries, missions, projects, orphans, widows, the needy, the poor, and just let that be. But train yourself. The tithe can be great training wheels as a starting place if you've never had those before in giving. And honestly, God will meet you, he will stretch you, but He will bless your faith. And he will provide for you. You can't outgive the God of the Bible. It's impossible. We are fearful that if we give who's going to take care of us, and God says, That's my job. It's my job to take care of you. It's your job to obey me and what I've asked you to do.
And so, learning to give is a journey that takes time, and others and inspiration and Scripture and all of that. But it's the way to happiness, it is the way to happiness. So what's the greatest joy of being a gospel patron? It's becoming like God. It's learning to be like our Savior who is always after conforming our hearts into His image. He's always after making us more like him. And if the God of the Bible is the most generous being that the human mind could ever even conceive of, it would be inconceivable that the people of God would not be generous. Are you tracking with me? I know I'm preachy a little bit here, but you track with me? It would be inconceivable that Christians would not be generous when our God gave His Son and His Son gave his life for us.
DW: Yeah, I think that's the best answer that I've gotten to that question ever.
JR: That's the only time you've asked, I think.
DW: That's yeah, it is amazing to think about just how much God has given us. And I mean, everything.
JR: Every breath, every breath is a gift, every day is a gift. Yeah, salvation throughout the scriptures, our salvation is talked about in terms of a gift, I think of it like a Christmas present, like he's given it to everyone. Are we going to open it? Are we going to receive it some people that I don't want that, I don't want that, I don't want that, I don't want the terms of that, needed to humble myself and receive that. No. I want to earn it, I want to work for it. And he gives us how it works. My salvation is a gift. It's by grace, we're saved. This is a gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast. That our God wants to give us many, many good gifts. Most of all, salvation.
DW: So John, what do you think are some tricks and traps and things that hold us back from being generous gospel patrons?
JR: Yeah, I think number one, we live in a world where we've heard this lie 10,000 times in various forms. And here's the lie. Life consists in the abundance of possessions. Life is found in having more money and things. Jesus said the opposite 2,000 years ago. He says, watch out, be careful of greed. Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. I don't think we believe it. Not only do we believe that, many of us may have never even heard Jesus say that. We may have never even read that in God's word. But everything within our culture and everything within the world screams the opposite. If you get more money, you'll be happier. If you get more things, you'll be more satisfied. If you could take more trips, if you could drive what they drive, wear what they wear, fit in in their clubs, do what they do, that's where life is found. And Jesus says it's not found there. We get our life from a deeper source. We're rooted in a deeper soil than that. Our joy and happiness don't rise and fall with our bank accounts or investments, or savings accounts or our job security. Our joy is anchored into a deeper place. We know the God of creation, the God, the King of the universe. We know him, I know him personally. I talked to him this morning, and I listen to Him as I read His word. This is what we were made for to know him and enjoy him and let him be our true and lasting treasure. And when we treasure him, it's like that old hymn says, when we look at Jesus' face, all the things of this world just sort of pass away they fade.
DW: Everything grows strangely dim.
JR: That's right. That's right, but when we fix our eyes on the things of this world, sometimes the things of heaven grow strangely dim, and pale, and bland, and we lose our appetite for the very things that we were made for. And so the challenge for all of us is how do we keep our eyes truly fixed on Jesus? How do we keep our hearts more anchored in heaven than they are anchored to Earth. And what Jesus says is what we do with our treasure has the ability to direct our hearts because where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also. And so often, I think, our lives and our hearts and our minds and our worries, and our dreams, and our cares are all anchored to the earth. Because that's where we've put our treasure. And we care about the stuff that we put our money into. But when we begin to give generously to God's Kingdom purposes, and the advance of the Gospel all over the world, all of a sudden our hearts find that lightness and freedom. And we begin to care more about spiritual things than earthly things.
And I think when we set our treasure in heaven, all of a sudden our hearts are after going after those things. And all of a sudden, what God is up to in the world is much more of a concern than what brand I'm wearing, what the next, you know, gadget is going to come out and I'm gonna get. Those things are not unimportant, or they're not sinful things. You can enjoy your brands, you can enjoy your technology. But that's not where joy is found. It's not where it's not what our treasure is, I think that the goal for each of us is how do we keep our hearts treasuring Jesus, and what he's up to on Earth. More than a thousand other distractions that we live with, the thousand other billboards or magazine ads, or online ads that are getting get trying to get us to anchor our hearts here. I think that's probably the greatest struggle, we believe the lie that life is found in the abundance of possessions. That's not.
DW: So, John, as you have traveled quite a bit around the world. Have you seen when you come back to America, just the facade of materialism just really stand out?
JR: Absolutely. Absolutely. Honestly, when we, my wife and I, did that four-and-a-half month trip around the world, 132 days around the world, and that's 28 countries. When we got back to America, it was overwhelming. I went to the grocery store and I walked in the cereal aisle. And I saw whatever 200 different cereals that I could buy. And I turned and I walked out. I was overwhelmed, overwhelmed with the abundance in America. And abundance isn't bad. And choices aren't bad. But what do we do with it? It was overwhelming for a while to reenter our culture, when we'd been in all these other cultures that have so much less and so often seems so much happier. Have you ever noticed that? You go to some of these third-world countries and the children there are not depressed. They're not all medicated for anxiety, they're actually happy and playing together and they enjoy life.
I think our culture has so much, the richest nation in the history of the world. And the question is, what's it for? Why has God blessed us so much? It's not for ourselves. And when we take it just for ourselves, of course, we have to provide for our families. Of course, my children have soccer practice and things that you have to pay for, right? But it's, it's our hearts need to be after investing in the kingdom of God, advancing the kingdom of God, that's our main treasure in life. Otherwise, we can get so sucked into the sickness of our age and material illnesses. Materialism is not only a sickness, it's a spiritual trap.
Think of First Timothy chapter six, where it says it actually says in the Bible, don't desire to be rich. What does everybody desire? A little bit more money. First of the sixes, don't desire to be rich. Don't chase wealth. It's a trap. That's a trap. You will pierce yourself with many fangs. You may even wander away from the faith, the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. I don't think we really believe that. I think we've been more washed in the water of our world than washed in the water of the Word of God. We need to come back to the Bible and come back to Jesus and let those truths sink deep into our hearts, learn to live them out. And then I think we walk the narrow way in our culture. We don't have to abandon America, we don't have to abandon all of our wealth. It's learning to steward it and use it for the glory of God.
As we walk the narrow way, we don't fall off into self-indulgence and we don't fall off on the other side into self-righteousness. We walk a narrow road of saying thank you God for all you've entrusted to me. Now, what do you want me to do with it? 100% of it belongs to you, not 90%, not 10%, you own 100% of my wealth, my possessions, and everything. Now, I want to go on the journey in relationship with you of stewarding that and using that as you would use it, if you Jesus lived in my body on planet earth. How would you use my wealth? What would you do with it? That's the adventure and the journey that we all are invited to. And it's the one that changes us and changes the world.
DW: Wow, that's incredible, John. So what is the most important thing that you would want to be remembered for?
JR: Walking with God. I'm reading Genesis right now and we read the story of Enoch. And it says that Enoch walked with God and was no more because God took him. Here's a guy who God loved that he walked with God. And then God just said, you know what, no death for this guy. And he snatches him up and takes him to heaven. How awesome is that? I was sharing the gospel recently with a girl who grew up in a Muslim family. And as I did, I said, oh, let me give you my information in case you got questions, and you want to ask. And she was, so my name is John, and she goes, oh, just remember, he is the Jesus guy. And I said, you know what, if that's what you remember me for, I love that. So, I was like, as I wind down my life, and then whatever God has those years for me, if I'm remembered as the Jesus guy, or guy who walked with God, that's more than any book or ministry, or a speaking engagement or any kind of impact. I want to be a guy that walks with God.
DW: So as this episode comes to a close, we want to enter the mentor minute. But before we do that, is there anything else that you want to share with our audience?
JR: Yeah, as you listened to this conversation, and think about generosity in your own life, what I hope you don't experience is any sense of guilt or pressure. Instead, I hope you experience this as a pathway to happiness, an opportunity for joy, an invitation to an adventure with your Father in heaven who dramatically loves you so much that He gave you his son. I want you to hear this as a unique invitation into something you may have never been invited into before but to make an incredible impact in your church, in your community, and to the ends of the earth. Now, most of us don't have the time, or the skills or talents to make a global impact on our own. The crazy thing is when we use our wealth to partner with other individuals, ministry leaders, missionaries, organizations who are doing incredible work, we have a part in that greater movement and mission, that is a legitimate part.
Jesus says, in Matthew 10:41, and 42, that begin with 43, if you give a cup of cold water to someone, you will by no means lose your reward. And he also says if you host someone, essentially, if you're generous toward someone, because he's a righteous person, you get the same reward. And so, I want you to hear that giving to someone is not losing, it's partnering. And when you partner with someone, so often we give money, it's like I could use that money differently, could use it for myself, for my needs or whatever. It's never a loss to give to God's kingdom. It's always a gain, and you will be rewarded either in this life or in the life to come. But it's never a loss. It's always an opportunity for partnership and impact as you give.
DW: That's great. John, thank you so much. And thank you for coming on. So let's jump into the mentor minute. Who is the most influential person that you know, and how have they impacted you?
JR: You can judge influence in so many different ways. I'll say I had a pastor in my 20s and early 30s, who dramatically discipled me and shaped my life. His name is Eric Thomas. He's a professor of theology at Biola University and a pastor at Grace EV free. I don't know if he's the most influential person I know. But he had such a dramatic influence on my life because he gave so much of his life to me. He discipled me, we played an intramural basketball league and he took me on trips when he would go speak in speaking engagement. I could just ride along and watch and learn and have hard conversations with me, challenge me, rebuke me, confront me, answer my hard questions about Scripture and theology and life and how all those things intersect. Welcomed me into a small group that he led in our church and allowed me to see his marriage up close and see how he led in a variety of different contexts. I took, took some theology classes with him as an undergrad student, and just remained ever grateful. Sometimes I'm speaking or preaching and I hear his voice in my voice. I hear his tone in my tone. I hear the way he said things.
The other thing he did was very generously introduced me to his mentors. I got to meet Wayne Grudem, the guy who wrote The Big Blue Systematic Theology because he was one of his mentors. I got to meet another CS Lewis, a world-class CS Lewis scholar named Chris Mitchell because he was one of his friends. Another world-class CS Lewis scholar named Jerry Root because it was his friend. And so he's very generous with his friendships and his introductions and didn't have to be to a young college student and then a growing business leader. And then he got into seminary, but he and his wife were wonderful. And Eric and Donna really blessed my life significantly.
DW: And he invested a lot of his time and energy into you.
JR: He did. He did. Yeah. And I find that very rare today that many pastors focus a lot on preaching, and I love preaching, and I'm all for giving out a ton of attention. But there's something to be said for depositing your life into someone else's life. Through time spent, gifts given, opportunities, open doors, and relationships. That is, a rare, it seems like even a more rare gift to give these days. And I'm so glad I received that.
DW: Yeah, that's really powerful. All right, and then what book or podcast besides your own would you recommend to our listeners?
JR: My favorite podcast is actually Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. It's a phenomenal 20 minutes a month or 25 minutes a month. I'm really grateful for his wise and faithful leadership. And the way he speaks into a variety of different leaders, whether it's business leaders or ministry leaders. A lot of his principles just are so good and so relevant to all of us who have different ways that we influence and lead others. So, Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast is my favorite.
As far as a book goes, I've been reading Lord of the Rings to my family aloud for over a year. And we have 10% of the book left to go. And I had never read it before. And it's just been, it's a mountain of a book to climb. But it's been wonderful along the way. JRR Tolkien just has the ability to put into imagery so many powerful truths about life and powerful spiritual truths. And so I've been falling in love with that book this year for the first time in my life. And I don't read a ton of fiction in general, and I don't read a lot of fantasy. But that's been such a gift to me this year. So, if you haven't read Lord of the Rings, probably want to start with The Hobbit. Much shorter, more accessible. But we love the read aloud and our family just sit around and kind of experience the audiobook for ourselves in our home. And that's been a great book for us this year.
DW: Wow, that is good. Yeah, I have some great memories growing up. We did a lot of family reading and audiobooks on car trips and things like that. All right, final question. What's the greatest lesson in leadership that you've learned?
JR: Failure is essential to progress. Man, it's hard to fail. And no leader wants to fail. We all want to succeed. And we all want everything to be sort of growing. And yet, failure is part of the process of leadership. And so it's, it's not how many times you fall, it's, again, how many times you get back up after falling. And none of us are good at everything. And none of us are good at everything on our first try. And that's okay. And so I think giving yourself the permission, that we're going to be the kind of leaders who take risks, who try new things, who are willing to fail because on the other side of failure is an education, and that education is valuable, and sometimes that's an education that you can't pay for. And I think the willingness to fail gives you the freedom to take risks.
And I think everything good in our lives lies outside of our comfort zones. If you want to be in great shape, you got to get up and go to the gym, not once or not once a month, you got to get up and go. And in order to do that you got to risk and you got to believe that there's something there. But you also have to be willing to go, I'm gonna look like an idiot, I'm going to feel so sore. All of it's going to be so painful. I don't know, if I'm gonna like this, we've got to risk, you've got to risk. And, the only way to risk is if failure is okay. If you're okay, you're not defined by your wins and your losses. You're not defined by your successes and your failures. You're gonna learn from everything. You're going to learn from everyone, and you're gonna go forward because of it.
It's okay to fail. We're human. We're limited. We make mistakes, we hurt people's feelings. We don't do things the way we wish we could do them. We have regrets and we learn from them but that's what a leader does. We don't get stuck in the fear of failure. We don't get stuck in the mistakes that we've made in the past. We keep going. We keep getting up and we keep going. And I think that's the mark of courageous and strong leadership.
DW: Yeah, that's powerful and really encouraging to me too because I've heard people say, you know, failure is part of the process and things like that. But, I've never heard it that powerfully said that failure is essential to progress. I like that. So John, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom. Is there anything that we can be praying for you, your family, and your ministry?
JR: I would love, can I get very specific on that? Three members of our gospel patrons team, are trying to, are hoping and praying to buy houses this year. And for all of us, that's a really, really big deal. So, my wife and I included, and two other teammates of mine, and it's just a very specific need to settle our families. And for all of you who bought houses, you know, what a big deal that is. And you know, what a sense of relief that can bring to your family when you have your place and your stability to then work out of that place. And so that would be a huge gift if you guys would pray for, for me and for my family as well as for my team that God would settle us in the exact homes he wants, for fair prices, and he would show his abundance and generosity to us in that way. And I think that will propel us to even more fruitfulness going forward.
DW: Well, he seems to be doing something in the housing market because prices are changing quickly.
JR: Yes. And I'm grateful for that.
DW: All right, let's pray. God, I thank you so much for this time, this opportunity to just unpack all of John's wisdom and what you have invested in him through his mentors and just different patrons in his life. God, I pray that you would bless them, that you bless him, that you would bless his family, and that you would help his team to find homes, find the right homes, and that they would be able to grow and flourish and continue to do your work to build your kingdom. And we love you and thank you for all that you've done. We pray that we will take all that we've learned here and that we would build your kingdom. In Christ's name, I pray. Amen.
JR: Amen. And thank you, brother, for all you're doing for the kingdom and the privilege to share with you and your audience today.
DW: Thank you. Absolutely.
All right. Thanks for listening to another episode of The Kingdom Investor. We'll catch you next time.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
ANNNOUNCER: What if you could take your generosity to the next level, impacting more lives in your community and around the world, creating a godly legacy for generations to come?
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