Starting the Journey
About the Guest
Do you desire to do more now that your kids are grown? On the broadcast today, Dennis Rainey talks with authors Bill Wellons, a founding pastor of Fellowship Bible Church, and Lloyd Reeb, a real estate developer, about stepping out in faith and using your giftedness to bless and encourage others.
Do you desire to do more now that your kids are grown?
Starting the Journey
Lloyd: The biggest respect in my life is to help Linda become everything God has created her to be. So I've got to start there. So if I were doing it now, I would go home and say, "Honey, I don't quite know what's happening to me. I've got these crazy feelings like I want my life to count for something more, but I want to, first of all, understand what are your big dreams and aspirations and how can I get behind that?"
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, December 20th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll get some wisdom today on how to make the transition from a life of success to a life of significance. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I've got a friend of mine, and I want to know what kind of counsel you'd give him, okay? He's a father of four, two of his children have gone to college, two of them are still in high school.
Bob: He's been in business for 30-plus years, and successful as a salesman. He started to feel a little of that halftime itch that we've been talking about this week, you know, where he's looking around and going, "I want to do something different than what I've been doing." But in the back of his mind he's thinking, "I don't know that I can afford to. I mean, I've got to girls still in high school, got to get them through college. I'm not sure I can make the step."
So he's thinking, "I'll run this thing out a few more years, I'll put if off for a while before I make that step."
Dennis: Yep, got it, got it.
Bob: But he's still frustrated because he's kind of frustrated with his job and looking for something that is a little more – he could be a little more passionate about. So what would you tell him?
Dennis: Well, first of all, I wish I had ten bucks for every man and woman who has given that …
Bob: … that scenario?
Dennis: That scenario, where they've said, "You know, I'm just going to work just a little longer, be self-supporting, have everything in the bank, have all secure – then I'll get on with what I think God wants me to do."
And, it's interesting – I don't know that this is the case with every person who has said that to me, but far too many of them never get around to pulling the trigger because security is really elusive. What really is enough? How much is enough?
The second thing I would say, though, if he really is serious is I'd put a copy of this book, "Unlimited Partnership" in his hand and then since he lives here in Little Rock, I'd send him to Bill Wellons' class because Bill, as a pastor, has been leading a group of businessmen.
How many men and women have been through your class where you kind of talk to guys at this point in their lives and talk to them about what their vision ought to be long haul?
Bill Wellons: You know, I don't know the specific number. I know just a few weeks ago we made kind of a fly-by list, and there were 85 or 90 names on there of guys that either I or men who had been in one of my groups who are now leading groups on their own with people on a halftime journey who have actually gone through a class.
Now, there are lots of others who we have met with one-on-one or in a sidebar conversation; some who knew where they wanted to go and where they felt like God was leading them; others who just needed to maybe read some information, have a point-in-time conversation and were ready to take the next step.
Bob: So, bottom line, you've been a troublemaker and a disrupter in about 100 lives.
Bill Wellons: I have, I have.
Dennis: For what, close to 10 years you've been doing this?
Bill Wellons: It is, uh-huh, it is about 10 years, just under that.
Dennis: And you put this in a book called "Unlimited Partnership," and you co-authored it with Lloyd Reeb, who also joins us on FamilyLife Today. Lloyd, welcome back.
Lloyd: Thank you so much.
Dennis: Lloyd is a real estate developer turned halftimer, who is investing his life in the Kingdom work, challenging others to do the same. He is the spokesperson for the halftime movement and together with Bill Wellons has co-authored a flip book. One-half of the book is to pastors about how they can tap into laymen and women who are in their churches, how they can use their talents and abilities. It's got tests and questions and all kinds of crowbars that will dislodge what God wants to do in people's lives.
Bill, I want to come back to you for a second. You've led these men and women through this process. Is there a question that ultimately is the one that sends them off into this pursuit? Some burning passion, a cause that begins the process?
Bill Wellons: It's a great question, and you use the word "process," which needs to be noted. This is a journey, it is a process, a lot more than a point-in-time statement or idea, but Lloyd and I tend to focus regardless of how we get at it, we tend to focus around three simple words – core, capacity, and context.
And when we're speaking of core, we're trying to help someone in this halftime world really come to grips with how God has wired them, what their God-given gifts and abilities are, what their strengths are, what's at the core?
Capacity refers more to margin – time margin for giving themselves away. I know, Bob asked earlier, "Well, what about the guy who is working or the woman who is working?" Well, all of that comes into play to determine what kind of time margin you would have for leveraging who you are in other areas.
And, of course, that's what context is all about – best fit, serving opportunity, one that aligns with what God has wired them to do, so that's really what we're trying to get at.
Bob: So you're not trying to get everyone dislodged from a job or a profession and full-time in Kingdom work. They may stay in their profession, you're just trying to get them involved in what God's up to, right?
Bill Wellons: That's exactly right. In fact, just a few weeks ago I began working with a woman in our church named Pat, and she's an attorney for a company and has got a very successful career and busy as a professional person as well as a mom, and we were talking about her aspirations, some of her gifts and abilities, and she mentioned, "Well, I like to write."
And I said, "Well, really?" I said, "Well, what are you writing on? Do you journal, et cetera et cetera?" Well, that led to a discussion about her writing about her child who has autism. And I said, "Well, have you ever thought about writing a book?" And she said, "Well, as a matter of fact, I have." And I said, "Well, why don't you do it?" And so – this is an amazing story.
About a week or so later, I get an e-mail and it's from Pat, and Pat says – this is a great line – she said, "I have never felt more passionate about my relationship with God than I do today. I can hardly stop wanting to write this information," and, of course, it's not just to tell her story but it's to help other parents.
Dennis: You know, and the reason for that is she stepped out in faith, and when you encounter God with faith, He'll meet you in the journey. But there is going to be a courageous point, and, Lloyd, you came to it, a point where you had a little sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that you're making a horrible, tragic mistake as you left your career, a successful career, to engage and embark in this kingdom work. How did you navigate that decision?
Lloyd: Well, you know, when the Lord chose to bless our real estate development business, it forced Linda and I to stop and push the pause button and ask the question why. What I knew about myself was it wasn't because I was smarter or more aggressive, it was that He chose to bless our business. And with that comes a responsibility.
So then we asked the question, "What will we do with our lives?" So we set out a five-year plan back in 1987, that I would go back to building real estate and do it for five years in the hopes it would support our family and, along the way, as I could see it, that God accomplishing that in different ways than we could really ever take credit for, I realized the, "Okay, well, how could God use a recovering real estate developer?"
And so I sent my resume out to 40 national ministries just saying, "Here is who I am, my time is free, how can you use me?" And, frankly, I got the most pathetic responses you can imagine.
Dennis: You didn't send it to me.
Lloyd: And so I said, "Well, I'm not sure how," or maybe I'm just – maybe what I'm called to do is do deals and write checks at the end of the year, and if that's what God's call in my life is I'm good for that.
Bob: And can I stop you there? Because there are some people that that's their Kingdom assignment, right?
Bob: Do deals, write checks, and fund the work of ministry.
Lloyd: Right, and then I think the challenge is to do that with all your heart, to be the best Kingdom venture capitalist, if you will.
Lloyd: And so we started spending time thinking and praying about what I could do and, ultimately, I had a mission agency call me and say "Lloyd, how would you like to take 100 farmers to Albania?" And I thought, "Well, you know, I don't even know where Albania is, and I know nothing about farming, but I'll do it."
I mean, I was so desperate to kind of get out on the playing field, get the ball in the hand – hand on the ball and try for the end zone. But what happened is, ultimately, we did that. We took almost 100 farmers to communities that for 73 years, the constitution in that country read, "God does not exist." And these ordinary farmers would walk into those communities, built instant rapport, share their faith in a winsome way, help them transition from centrally planned farming to market-driven farming, and they'd change a community.
Well, I'll tell you, it was an interesting day when a little later that summer I was standing at a ribbon-cutting in one of these buildings that my partner and I built, the nicest building we ever built, highest profit margins, but all I could think about was in 100 years, this building is going to be torn down. But those farmers we just reached in Albania with the Gospel, in 100 years, they will just be starting to praise God throughout the endless ages of eternity – and their kids and their grandkids.
I said to my partner, you know, Andy, I can't build any more of these buildings. Now, after about a year of ministry, I wondered, "Am I making a difference?" And I thought to myself, "Look, I think I'll just go back to real estate, I know how to do it, I always win, there's all kinds of perks," and then I realized it's the safe way, but in so doing I just might miss out on the one thing I was created to do. And that's just too big a risk to take.
Dennis: Ephesians 2:10 – "For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared before Him that we should walk in them." Why would you want to do anything different than the good works that God has for you to do? I mean, why would you want to settle for second best?
You know, I want to illustrate this, and I don't think – Bob, have I ever asked anybody to sit in my seat doing the broadcast?
Bob: You've never allowed anybody to sit in your seat during the broadcast.
Dennis: Well, I'm about to ask – I'm looking through the window, and I'm looking at Bill Eister. I want Bill to come into the studio. Bill just left. Come on in, Bill. Bill just left a successful career at Pratt & Whitney. He'd been there for more than 23 years and came here to FamilyLife.
Bob: How about if I give him my chair, okay, because you have some questions for him, right?
Dennis: Well, I do. I'm going to toss him the questions.
Bob: All right, I'll just let him sit down here and take my chair.
Dennis: Boy, that's really big of you, Bob. I really appreciate you sharing your chair with him. But to illustrate your point, Lloyd, of what you're talking about, a year ago Bill came here to FamilyLife and has rolled up his sleeves. He is the Executive Vice President and COO of FamilyLife, and recently visited the Dallas Weekend to Remember where we had almost 4,000 people in a ballroom, and you took your daughter with you.
And I want you to share with our listeners to illustrate your point of modeling. Because he took his daughter, who is 14 years old, Samara, and she had an interesting observation as she saw these couples in this conference learning how to have godly marriages and families. Share the story with our listeners.
Bill Eister: Well, thank you, Bob, for letting me have your seat.
Dennis: Since you're Bob's boss, I think he had no other choice.
Bob: That's right.
Bill Eister: Well, it's very kind, and he was very gracious. We go to the Gaylord. It's the first time we've taken our children to that kind of a venue, and we were walking around before the conference starts, and there's literally thousands of couples walking around, and she turns to me, she said, "Dad, all these couples are holding hands. It's weird."
And it was amazing to see all these couples that were very intentional about their marriage, very intentional about their relationships, and she got it. She saw it there.
And then later in the weekend we were walking around and as part of the conference you have homework assignments, where you're supposed to do homework assignments and projects with your spouse, and dotted around the campus of this Gaylord Hotel, this humongous hotel, there's people – husband and wife sitting around – it was a beautiful day. They were out on the grass, they were out on the park benches and things, and they're doing their homework, and she says "Dad, this is really cool, that these couples are spending their time being intentional about their relationship."
Dennis: Bill, I've been watching you. Your eyes have been transfixed on Lloyd, listening to Lloyd talk about this. Just a little over a year ago that was you in business.
Bill Eister: It sure was.
Dennis: What's it like for you to listen to this today.
Bill Eister: It's really neat, because I lived it. I know what it feels like to be able to make a decision that you're going to count for something, where you're going to drop your nets and start serving the Kingdom for Kingdom purposes.
Dennis: Any regrets?
Bill Eister: Not on, never.
Dennis: You actually told the staff that even encountering the problems you encountered in ministry and making the turn from business to ministry, you used a term in front of the staff that described how you felt about this new responsibility.
Bill Eister: Yes, I think you were referring to when I said I was "giddy" about it, and I still am. Each day it just really is a joy to be able to come and serve at FamilyLife and see how God is using FamilyLife or working through FamilyLife to change lives for eternity.
Bob: That's just lack of sleep – that giddy – that's lack of sleep.
Dennis: Lloyd, as you listen to a guy who spent his career in building jet engines, and you hear a man like that take the step of faith, you have to reflect back on your own step of faith and just think of how God rewards those who seek Him. You really do begin the adventure of what God created you to do.
Lloyd: You know, I remember, a few years into my second half, and, frankly, I've always loved real estate, and I was kind of thinking about that one day and, at that point, I was a pastor of evangelism in a large church in Charlotte, and I had the privilege of leading what we would call "seeker small groups." And every Monday night I'd get into a boardroom like this, and we'd have eight or 10 people around that were exploring Christianity, kind of tire-kicking, and we'd put their questions out on the table, and we'd wrestle with them, and about the fifth night in a six-week class, there was one lady there, Kristi, and I thought "She is never going to get this."
But part way through the night she got up, and she went to the bathroom, and she came back 15 minutes later, I was worried, and at the end, she waited until everybody left, and then she simply said to me, "You know, tonight I became a Christian, and I went to bathroom because I was afraid I might cry."
Well, the next night I called Kristi, and I said to her husband, "You know, I'd love to have you guys out so we could celebrate together with my family because, again, I want them to see this is what our family is about." So they came out, and when they pulled up at the front, her little boy, Jackson, was three, and he came running out the back door of the car, and he came up to me, and I picked him up, and as I held him in my arms, I realized this little boy's entire life is going to change because of what happened to his mom last night.
So we had pizzas and we had made sundaes and we took them out sailing, and we just had a wonderful celebration as a family. Now, scroll forward just five years after that, Kristi met me in the lobby of the church, and she came up to me and gave me a hug and said, "Hey, Lloyd, how are you? How's Linda and the kids?" And she said, "Well, here's why I came up. Here's Jackson." And I looked over, and there's Jackson, cool dude now, he was about eight or nine at the time, and she said to me, "Well, Jackson became a Christian this week, and he would love to get baptized."
Lloyd: And at that moment I realized I would trade any building just for that one little boy. The impact on that one kid's life, and that's the great adventure. It's not so much about something being wrong with corporate America or building buildings, it's about saying, "Lord, what is it that you have me here on earth to do?" And it may be three hours a week, it may be 10 hours a week, it may be just simply going back into the marketplace with a totally different focus and a different personal mission statement.
But we have the privilege of saying, "Lord, what is it?" And then living that out and seeing God show up and change people's lives.
Dennis: And that's what Bill had the chance to see at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas, Texas, when he looked at that massive audience.
Bill Eister: My daughter was able to see it as well.
Dennis: You know, and I want to get Bob back in the studio.
Bob: Can I have my chair back?
Bill Eister: Thank you, Bob, I appreciate it.
Bob: You're welcome.
Dennis: Thank you, Bill, for stepping in here and sharing a little of your story. But I think of Bill, who was building jet engines, and that's pretty significant. I mean, you're talking about safety and security.
Bob: Yeah, I'm glad we've got him.
Dennis: I fly on those planes. I'm glad he had a goal of zero defects. But just think now, he is importing all that training, all those skills, into a ministry that is attempting to build homes that have zero defects.
And, wow, that makes me giddy, too. And Bill's outside again with his hands in the air with a victory, but, you know, Bob, I know there are listeners who need to take these words to heart and ask God, "What do you have for me?"
Bob: Say I'm ready for the adventure.
Dennis: What's the assignment? And you know what? I'm glad you mentioned, Lloyd, that it can be three hours a week, because it's not a matter of having to sell all your belongings and …
Bob: … go to Albania with a group of farmers, right?
Dennis: Well, to live there permanently. It's a matter of picking up God's assignment and what He has for you today where you live, and begin the adventure. And you know what? If part of that is family, although Lloyd did not send me his resume back in 1992, he should have. He should have.
Bob: Because you love him and have a wonderful plan for his life, right?
Dennis: Well, I might have hired him to have been in your seat.
Bob: [laughing] Yeah, and if you'd done that he'd never written this book, and he wouldn't be around to help people today who want to make this transition. That would have been terrible, wouldn't it, huh, all the way around?
We do have copies of the book that Lloyd Reeb and Bill Wellons have written. It's called "Unlimited Partnerships," and you can go to our website at FamilyLife.com and click the red button you see on the screen that says "Go." That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about how to get a copy of that book.
There is also an online questionnaire you can take that's a tool designed to help you think through what's the right kind of transition for you to make? Maybe it's not a complete transition like you said. Maybe it's just a few hours a week, but this online questionnaire can help you resolve those kinds of issues.
Again, it's at our website, FamilyLife.com, and you'll find it when you click the red button that says "Go," in the middle of the screen. That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about the book, about the online questionnaire, and I should just mention you will also see there information about the FamilyLife Today Weekend to Remember gift certificates that are available at a discounted price this week, and we do this for those of you who are last-minute Christmas shoppers looking for something to either give you spouse or to give to your adult children.
If you want to find out when the conference is going to be coming to a city near where you live in the spring, that's available on the FamilyLife.com website. You can order one of these gift certificates and download a gift card from the website so you've got something to put in a stocking or under the tree this year at Christmas, and we hope you'll consider taking advantage of that opportunity and attending one of these conferences in the spring.
Again, you can go to our website at FamilyLife.com for more information about any of the things we've talked about here or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, and someone on our team is available to help you however they can.
And then one final note before we're done here today. Throughout the year we hear from a lot of our listeners from time to time who will contact us and help with our financial needs here. You make a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today so that this program can continue on this local radio station, other stations all around the country, you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, and we appreciate you.
During the month of December, we are asking you to consider making a year-end donation to FamilyLife Today. We've had some friends who have approached us and have offered to match any donation we receive this month on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $500,000. And, of course, that is a wonderfully generous offer, and we're hoping to take full advantage of their generosity.
To do that, we need to hear from as many of our listeners as possible. So if you can make a donation this month, in fact, if you can make a donation this week by go online at FamilyLife.com or calling us at 1-800-FLTODAY, we would love to hear from you. Of course, your donations are tax deductible, and just so you know, FamilyLife Today is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which means that we've got folks who pay careful attention to how we handle finances to make sure that they're being handled with integrity; that they're not being handled improperly, and we wanted to make you aware of that.
Again, you can donate online at FamilyLife.com, or you can call to make a donation on 1-800-FLTODAY. Let me say thanks in advance for your financial support and for helping us take advantage of this matching gift opportunity.
Well, tomorrow we're going to continue to talk about ways that you can give your life away and have an impact on the lives of others. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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