From Success to Significance
About the Guest
What is your purpose in life? Today on the broadcast, Bill Wellons, a pastor and Director of Church Planting and Consulting for Fellowship Associates, joins real estate developer Lloyd Reeb and Dennis Rainey to talk about using your time and talents to reach a lost and questioning world.
What is your purpose in life?
From Success to Significance
Lloyd: Sandy Griffith, for example, lives in Houston, and she dug down deep into her heart and found this passion to rock preemie babies. So she and her friend went to the upscale hospital near them in Houston and said, "Hey, it's me and my friend. We want to rock preemie babies." You know, and they laughed, they said, you know, "We don't take weirdos off the street to rock other people's babies."
So the next day she and her friends went downtown to the very toughest section of Houston, and they showed up and said, "Hey, it's me and my friend. We want to rock preemie babies," and they barely got it out, and those nurses looked them in the eye and said, "You would do that? You have no idea how many 17-year-old crack cocaine girls come in here, and they deliver a little baby, and in the middle of the night they leave, and we're left with more kids we could possibly ever love on."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, December 19th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll hear today about ways you can invest your life in an eternal portfolio. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I think I've got the drill here. I'll just toss you the ball and get out of the way, okay?
Dennis: I think you've got it.
Bob: It's exactly –
Dennis: This is going to be soapbox city today.
Bob: You're already on it, and the guests are already on theirs.
Dennis: I'm on the edge of my seat.
Bob: I might as well just – I'll just kick back here a little bit and you can take over.
Dennis: And our listeners know that you're going to go away. They know you're going to go away.
[Bob making relaxing noises in background]
Dennis: I want to read a verse here because this is what we're going to talk about. This verse follows Ephesians 8 and 9, which talks about how we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Verse 10, though, says, "For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
And I think what the Apostle Paul is challenging us with is that our faith shouldn't just begin at a point in time where we're safe from the penalty of sin, but we now should represent the God of eternity, the God who created the universe with a purposeful life.
And we have a couple of warriors in the studio, Bob ..
Bob: A couple of purposeful people, right?
Dennis: Purposeful leaders who are challenging men and women to invest the rest of their lives. Lloyd Reeb and Bill Wellons join us – men, welcome to the broadcast.
Lloyd: Thank you very much.
Bill: It's great to be with you.
Dennis: I would welcome you to my soapbox here. There will have to be room for more than one at a time.
Bob: Yeah, but you can see he's not making any room on it for anybody yet.
Dennis: Bill Wellons is a very close personal friend. He and his wife, Carolyn, go way back with Barbara and me. We helped start the Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, back in 1977 and, Bill, how many churches would you say that Fellowship has now started around the country?
Bill: We've been able to participate in about 40 of them. I think in the last seven or eight years, there's 25 through our residency church planning program, and we're just thrilled with the opportunity to go out and have a part in establishing churches that are making a difference in their communities.
Dennis: They are having a great impact, and it's the way church was meant to be, I think, Bob. Bill and his wife, Carolyn, have three children, seven grandchildren, anymore on the way?
Bill: Not that I know of. We just had one just under two weeks ago, and I think that's the last one I know about right now.
Dennis: You know, Barbara and I are expecting number 11.
Dennis: Yeah, it's, you know, we've just got momentum right now.
Bill: You do.
Dennis: Lloyd Reeb also joins us on the broadcast. He is a real estate developer, he's an author, and a spokesperson for the halftime movement across the country, and both Lloyd and Bill – in fact, Bob, have we ever had a flip book on the broadcast? One that you could flip either side, which is really two books in one?
Bob: Yes, as a matter of fact, we have.
Dennis: Which one was that?
Bob: Do you remember Bobby and Robert Wolgemuth?
Dennis: That's right.
Bob: Wrote a book with Mark and Susan DeVries called "The First Year of Your" – "The Most Important Year of Your Marriage." One half was for men, and one half was for women.
Dennis: Well, I'm going to ask both you guys, Lloyd, beginning with you – what's your half of the book about, and then, Bill, you share about your half.
Lloyd: Well, the book is titled "Unlimited Partnership," because many times marketplace leaders like myself, we show up in a ministry setting or in a church setting and, frankly, kind of feel like a limited partner, which in business means I put in the money, I don't take much risk, and I really never get to lead something.
And yet there's a point in life when just the prospect of spending the rest of my life accumulating more stuff and sort of increasing my net worth runs its course, and it no longer really draws my heart. I want my life to count for something more, and I want a partner with a ministry or with my pastor in an unlimited way. I want to be able to come alongside and bring all my talents and all my life experience and just see what God would do with it.
Bob: Your background is in commercial real estate, is that right?
Lloyd: Yes, my partner and I built housing for seniors, retirement homes.
Bob: And so you had this experience in commercial real estate, you show up at church, and you think, "Boy, this is cool what God's doing here through the church," but you felt like there is really not a place for me to be actively involved?
Lloyd: You know, there's lots of volunteer roles traditionally in a church setting.
Bob: You can teach the third graders, right.
Lloyd: But yet no place where I felt like I could bring my unique gifts and the experiences that I've had and the time that I now have been able to create in midlife and to really bring those in a way that match my calling and kind of own a piece of it.
Bob: So is your half of the book written to guys like you to help them know how they can get plugged in?
Lloyd: Men and women that reach a point where they really want – the pursuit of success is no longer enough, and they want their lives to count for something eternal and significant, and so there's ways they can plug in more intentionally in the marketplace and be salt and light.
But they're also willing to partner with their church, and what I've seen in Bill's life is that as a pastor he's been incredibly effective at partnering with marketplace men and women and really helping them discover God's call and then giving them the courage to do whatever it takes in terms of risk and sacrifice to really live it out, which is the great adventure.
Dennis: I have an e-mail here from a listener who said she must married off their fourth child, the nest is empty, and she's looking around for a challenge, and she started talking to her husband about praying about it, and she's not necessarily moving from success in the marketplace to significance, but she's moving to the next season of her life as a wife, a mom, and a woman.
And she turned to her husband to talk about how she felt like maybe God was impressing her that they needed to become foster care parents for just a few days for newborn children in the foster care system.
And her husband wasn't locked onto this concept of halftime and the new season of life and partnering and doing some additional things with their lives and didn't connect with her.
So we want to talk about how wives and husbands can partner together around this. Now, Bill, your half of the book is to pastors, coaching them about how to tap into this source of manpower.
Bill: That's exactly right, and what I've learned, Dennis, is there are really two kinds of partnerships in a church. There's the limited partnership that Lloyd mentioned a second ago, and then there's the unlimited partnership that we're writing about.
And both of us feel that both partnerships are absolutely critical to the health of the church. So let me explain what I mean by that. The limited partnership in a church setting, to me, is where basically I am asking you to come alongside of me and help me lead, say, a small group ministry.
Dennis: You're talking about me, as a pastor?
Bill: I'm saying me, as a pastor, you as a layman – I'm going to set you up as a layman for a minute, and I'm saying, "Hey, Dennis, I need some help in giving leadership to our small group ministry," so I'm going to act like the general partner, I'm going to oversee everything, but I want you to take a piece of the action and help me facilitate that ministry and typically these are inside the walls of the church.
And it's absolutely critical to the church that we have those with children and students and missions, commissions, all kinds of things. What we're talking about is the need for some unlimited partnerships, and here is the switch – rather than you coming alongside of me, now, as a pastor, I'm going to come alongside you, and I'm going to help you discover how God has designed you in advance and those works that you read about just a minute go and partner with you and set you free to partner with God and to pursue that calling in your life.
That may be inside the church, it may be outside the church, but that's what's been so exciting to me.
Dennis: They key is, it's an extension of the church.
Bill: It really is.
Dennis: And, Lloyd, you're finding around the country that there are a growing number of what you call "halftimers" who are moving into a new season of their lives, and it's a unique – it seems to be a change that's been brought about by our society. What's caused this unique time where there are so many talented people considering how to use the second half of their life?
Lloyd: Well, it really is a brand-new social phenomenon. You know, 100 years ago the average life expectancy was 47 or 48 and today when you and I reach our late 40s, we have 30 bonus years.
And, secondly, this is the healthiest, wealthiest, best-educated generation to ever reach mid-life, and the third factor that makes this as a phenomenon that's sweeping our culture is that as a generation baby-boomers wanted to change the world. And then we got sucked into, in my case, building buildings and in other people's cases doing whatever career kind of captured their focus for the last 25 or so years.
And now, today, if those passions that drove them back then are still smoldering under blankets of busy-ness and obligation and responsibilities, and when you and I just lift the blanket ever so slightly and blow some oxygen into that, then it reignites.
Sandy Griffith, for example, lives in Houston, and when I first met her, she said to me, "Well, when our girls grew up and went off to college, I was mid-40s and stopped and said to myself, "If anything is significant, raising three God-honoring, healthy kids is significant."
Lloyd: But the fact is, they don't need me the same way now. So who am I going to be now that I'm grown up? And she dug down deep into her heart and found this passion to rock preemie babies. And she said to me, "That doesn't sound very significant."
Dennis: Now, you're talking about holding a baby and just rocking it in a rocking chair?
Lloyd: Yeah. So she and her friend went to the upscale hospital near them in Houston and said, "Hey, it's me and my friend. We want to rock preemie babies." You know, and they laughed, they said, you know, "We don't take weirdos off the street to rock other people's babies."
So the next day she and her friend went downtown to the very toughest section of Houston, and they showed up and said, "Hey, it's me and my friend. We want to rock preemie babies," and they barely got it out, and those nurses looked them in the eye and said, "You would do that? You have no idea how many 17-year-old crack cocaine girls come in here, and they deliver a little baby, and in the middle of the night they leave, and we're left with more kids we could possibly ever love on."
So she started, and today there's dozens of other women following her lead, caring for little girls and boys, and intersecting the lives of those young moms.
Well, she went to her pastor, and she said, "You know, Pastor, here is what's on my heart." And he said, "Wow, that's fantastic. You go back and figure out what else we could do to come alongside you, and let's do this together." And now it's a significant partnership.
And he told me the last time I saw him, David Peterson said to me, "The most exciting thing in my last 25 years of ministry was that last week I had the privilege of dedicating an entire apartment suite that the hospital just built so that those young moms don't have to leave the hospital. They can stay and learn how to care for their baby while they're still under the nurses' supervision, and you have no idea how that will impact the probability of that child's abuse when it's taken home."
All because one mom reached a point in life where she had some options. She's not affluent, but she had some options, and she loosened her grip on life and just said, "God, if you could use and my skills and my passions, I'm available."
Dennis: And, Lloyd, as you talk about that, I happen to believe there are literally tens of thousands of listeners and laymen and women who hear those words, and something within their chest, they go, "Yes. We want to get on the playing field, we want to get in the game, we want to make a difference, we want to have a purpose" and build their attending church, they are filling the pews across America every Sunday and yet, for the most part, that huge, competent manpower and womanpower pool is not being tapped into. Where do we start?
Bill: You know, that's a great question, Dennis, and I think every church and every pastor can identify with what I'm getting ready to say in answer and response to that, is Lloyd and I would say that we feel like every church, the need for trained leadership, qualified leadership, is always greater than our budget to afford them.
So we are wanting to take the next hill, we are wanting to launch new ministries, we are wanting to do different things but, unfortunately, oftentimes, finances are just the pure economics of our church budgets hold us back.
Bill: What we are proposing is that rather then spend a great deal of time trying to develop those kinds of volunteers, over time, is rather we would just discover them and deploy them. And the marketplace, corporate America, has done a great job. They've spend hundreds of thousands of dollars educating all these people. We're just saying, "Let's identify these folks in our church, and let's cut them loose. Let's deploy them, let's let them leverage what they have learned in the first half of their life, in the second half of their life in and through our churches.
You know, it was maybe, what, Lloyd, three or four years ago when MetLife and Harvard did the research on this whole sociological phenomenon that we're describing as halftime.
Half of the Americans between age 50 and 70 want to do work that benefits other people, and when asked more specifically, 78 percent said they wanted to do something that would bless or improve life in their community – working with the poor, the elderly, or those in need.
So we have this huge opportunity to just go partner with these folks; to find out who they are, and to invite them in and give them an opportunity to be used by God.
Dennis: And, Lloyd, if you're one of those laymen wanting to get on the playing field, where do you start, where do you look?
Lloyd: Well, you know, back to Ephesians 2:10, what is it that I was created to do and what are the things prepared for me?
Dennis: Right, right.
Lloyd: More likely, it's going to be a portfolio of serving roles. If I stop long enough to listen carefully to God and His call in my life, it's not likely that He has been using all these years in my life just for some kind of drifting period. Instead, it was preparation.
If you look at Moses' life, Acts, chapter 7, gives us an incredible fly over of Moses' life, and in today's language, we would say he spent his first four years in Egypt getting his MBA and working his way up through corporate Egypt. And at age 40, God tapped him on the heart, and he looked up from his desk and, for the first time, he walked out into his community, and he saw the pain and suffering and the needs around him through a totally different lens.
And then this passion that God had put deep in his heart to free God's people from their bondage just exploded. Well, we know then that he reacted wrongly, and he had to go out into the wilderness. In that wilderness experience, his halftime experience, God detoxed him from some of the baggage from his first half, and it gave him a time of solitude and reflection to think and listen and then finally he encountered God in the burning bush, and he got his assignment from God, and that's where we get our assignment.
Look, for the last 13 years, my partner has been running our retirement facilities. Every month he takes my share of the cash flow to the bank, and he puts it in my account, and he sends me an e-mail. He tells me the balance on my account because it's his way of saying, on a regular basis, "I'm on your team. I am doing what God has happened to call me to do for these 13 years, to run these buildings in a way that every senior feels God's love and compassion each day they live there, and in so doing, I'm making it possible for you to do what He just so happens He's called you to do." The big deal is not affluence, it's availability. It's stopping to make eye contact with God and get my assignment from Him.
But it's going to cost me something, because, at the end of the day, there is an ancient writer who wrote this one compelling line – "God doesn't need me, He wants me." And the reason a life of significance always involves risk and sacrifice is because, frankly, God doesn't need me to show up for His plan to succeed. He wants me, and He's willing me from the things that have captivated me to be satisfied to partner with Him today to change the world one person at a time.
Dennis: It's going to demand the eye contact and, I think, the heart contact with God to get the mission, but then ultimately it will take the courage and the faith to step out and, unfortunately, we're out of time here today to find out more of the courage it took in your life, Lloyd, to take that step, but I know there are those, Bob, who are listening to our broadcast right now, whether it be a pastor who needs to challenge laymen to this – and women – or it may be a real estate developer, and attorney, like Bill was talking about, or a person who may be in service of some kind. But it's going to take that passion of the assignment from God plus the step of faith.
But whatever you do, make sure you're fulfilling His mission, His assignment for your life.
Bob: It may be that the first step of faith is to get a copy of the book that Bill and Lloyd have written, and there may be some folks who are saying, "I don't know that I even want to do that, because it could launch me on a journey that sounds a little scary."
Dennis: Yeah, but, you know what? Lloyd described it as an adventure.
Dennis: And I just said, "Right, that's exactly right." Why would you want to live a life that is mundane, of just satisfying your own wants and desires?" I know, at a point, that sounds intriguing and nice, to lavish it on the flesh, but why not be about the King's business? I mean, what a privilege to expend your life on behalf a kingdom that will not perish but that's eternal.
Bob: We've got copies of this book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if our listeners are interested in starting that journey, go on our website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button that you see that says "Go." That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about the book, "Unlimited Partnerships" by Bill Wellons and Lloyd Reeb.
There is also a link there that will take you to an area of the site where you can fill out a short questionnaire and get more information about what might be the right direction for you to move in at this stage of your life.
Again, the details are on our website at FamilyLife.com, click the red button that says "Go" that you see in the middle of the screen, and that will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about the book and information about the online questionnaire you can take with no obligation. You're not signing up for anything, you're just getting more information to see what God might be up to, right? Go to the website, FamilyLife.com, and get started on this journey.
And, by the way, for those of you who are last-minute Christmas shoppers, while you're on our website, you can purchase a gift certificate for an upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference and give that as a Christmas gift this year. We are making them available this week at a discounted price. All the details are available at FamilyLife.com. This is something you could give to your spouse or give to your adult children as a great Christmas gift.
Again, they are available at a discounted rate this week. The information is on our website at FamilyLife.com, and there is a gift card that you can download so that you've got everything you need, and your shopping is at least mostly taken care of at that point.
The website, again, is FamilyLife.com, and you'll find more information about the Weekend to Remember available there, including dates and cities where the conference is being held this spring, and we hope that the Weekend to Remember can be a part of your Christmas gift-giving this year.
And, you know, with Christmas just a few days away at this point, there are probably a lot of folks who are in the same situation I'm in with a lot on the list that needs to be accomplished before you can actually have your celebration next week. I hope that one of the things that folks have added to their list in recent days has been to take a few minutes to contact us here at FamilyLife to make a donation to our ministry.
You can do that online at FamilyLife.com, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, and one of the reasons we're hoping that you'll consider doing that is because of the matching gift that we've been talking about this month. Every donation that we receive during the month
of December is being matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $500,000, and many of our listeners have been contacting us to make donations, and we are thankful for those of you who have done that already.
If you have added us to your list and haven't made a call or gone online, we hope you'll do that. We are hoping that we'll be able to take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity during the month of December.
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Again, you can go online at FamilyLife.com to donate, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and we want to say thanks in advance for adding us to your Christmas list this year.
Well, tomorrow we're going to talk more about how families make a transition in life from pursuing success to pursuing significance. That comes up tomorrow, 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 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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