The Business Leader as Priest
About the Guest
Are you succeeding at work, but failing at home? Executives Bobby Mitchell and Terence Chatmon, leaders in the FCCI, tell how they strive to live for Christ both at home and at work. Focused on acquiring wealth in the 70's, Bobby tells how he came to the realization that what he said he believed and how he lived didn't match, causing him to make a major life change. Terrence, a manager at Coco-Cola by age 37, tells how any business can be used as a platform for ministry.
Are you succeeding at work, but failing at home? Executives Bobby Mitchell and Terence Chatmon, leaders in the FCCI, tell how they strive to live for Christ both at home and at work.
Bob: Is it possible to be a godly man—a godly husband and father / a godly businessman—and be successful in business? Terence Chatmon says, “It is possible, but it’s not without its challenges.”
Terence: When I was in corporate America—and even leading my own business—I was very successful in business. There comes a time when you achieve your most wondrous dreams and desires, but it falls short. You see, I was succeeding in a business world; but I was failing as the spiritual leader in my home. To be the spiritual leader of your home will give you worthiness and weightiness that’s greater than you can ever experience in corporate America.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 18th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll talk today about finding the balance between work and home and about how we express our faith in corporate America. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You have had more than one occasion, I know, where you have sat with a businessman, who was very successful in the corporate world, and was somehow not able to transfer that success to his marriage and his family.
Dennis: Well, in some cases, some of those business leaders were more married to their jobs than they were to their spouses. We’ve got a couple of business leaders who are, also, followers of Jesus Christ. Terence Chatmon and Bobby Mitchell join us on FamilyLife Today. Bobby, Terence, welcome back.
Bobby: Thanks. We’re glad to be here.
Terence: Excited to be back.
Dennis: They are both tied in with an outfit called the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International. They’ve got ministries in over 83 countries around the world. How many folks in America are you guys touching?
How many business leaders?
Terence: You know, that’s a challenging question because we’re so viral; but we’re probably touching—in terms of—thousands of business leaders and probably hundreds of thousands of employees, customers, and vendors. Our platform and our footprint is pretty large across—not only the United States—but also in 83 countries around the world.
Dennis: Bobby, you’ve been in business for more than four decades. You’re the Chairman of the Board of Applied Ceramics. Let’s go back to Bob’s question that he mentioned about seeing business leaders who could lead companies to multimillion dollars of profits but couldn’t lead at home.
Bobby: I believe—and I believe the FCCI believes—that we have to minister to the whole person. So, one of the things that we want to do is involve the wife, the family, the employees into that life and leadership of the CEO.
My wife and several of the other ladies—early-on when we started FCCI—demanded that they’d be involved in the major sessions. We started out—
Dennis: Now, wait a second. They demanded? [Laughter]
Bobby: They did. Does your wife never demand? [Laughter]
Dennis: It was tongue-in-cheek—trust me.
Bob: I’d like to hear you answer that question.
Dennis: Of course, she has! Bobby—but you’re the Chairman of the Board. The point is—you listened to your wife.
Bobby: We did. They wanted to be involved in the plenary sessions that we were in. They wanted to learn from the same material we learned. When I was coming out here, Dennis, I asked my wife—I said, “What are the great things that have happened to you as a result of FCCI?” She said: “Relationships. And I’ve learned so much that I’ve been able to apply in my family—running this household.”
I thought, “Wow, two pretty great things!” And it’s—where you get the biblical image of “two become one flesh”—that’s what we’re talking about.
And you see the problem with America today, in my opinion, is compartmentalization. We go to church—so we think we are Christian—instead of saying, “I’m called to be a Christian 24/7.” And we’re—each of us is called to a role. And each of those roles is godly. So, we’ve got to embrace the role that God’s called us to. God called me to be a CEO of a business. He called my wife to be a housewife. Both of them are equally valuable in God’s economy.
Dennis: You believe there are no second-class citizens, then, in what God calls us to do—whether you are “in business” or whether you are “in vocational Christian ministry.”
Dennis: Both need to be about what God has called them to do.
Bobby: I don’t relate to vocational Christian ministry. I relate to “We’re Christians—
Bobby: —and we’re all called to minister.”
Bob: Let me take you back to the early 70’s, when you were starting in your career and you and your wife had been married for four or five years. Did you have figured out that prioritization in your own life—about: “Here is what I’m doing what the company, and here is what I’m doing for my marriage and my family”? Were you keeping things in appropriate balance?
Bobby: I really was not. That was a struggle that I—it was about the 1974 timeframe when I recommitted my life to Christ, and I realized that what I said I believed didn’t match what I—the way I was living.
Bob: So, what was going on at home before you recommitted your life to Christ?
Bobby: I was very geared on making money. I was going to make—I worried about whether I could be the richest man in the world. I mean, you know, silly things like that.
I was very focused, and I wasn’t doing anything illegal that I know of. I was trying to raise some boys and spend time throwing balls in the yard or whatever; but I was very geared on building a business.
Bob: And why was that a problem—I mean, if you were playing with the boys at home?
Bobby: I guess I started to search whether I had integrity. Integrity comes from the word, integer, which means whole or whole number. I said, “I don’t measure up.” And so, I said, “I’ve got to change my life.”
I started down this path that ultimately led to Applied Ceramics—ultimately led to FCCI—and has been rich—I’m not sure I’m not the richest man in the world. [Laughter] I just—my bank account doesn’t necessarily show that.
Bob: If we could back and talk to your wife in 1973 and say: “Tell me about your husband. How’s he doing?” what would she have said to us?
Bobby: She’d say: “He’s doing pretty good. He’s…”—she probably thought better of me than I did of me because I could see my heart.
Dennis: Terence, we’re talking with Bobby here about being the president and CEO—Chairman of the Board of a major company. I really—I’ve got two questions. The first one is: “Does someone have to be a CEO to be a member of FCCI?”
Terence: We primarily focus on business leaders. So, they may be CEO’s or executive leaders of a company; but it also spills over, in some cases, to department leaders, who have executive leadership over a particular area. For example, in Coca-Cola®, we have over 300 people involved in FCCI that are not CEO’s of Coca-Cola; but they are very influential within their respective departments.
Dennis: Yes, that’s where I was going with my next question—
—is, undoubtedly, right now, we have a businesswoman or a businessman, who is listening to us, who may not be a CEO but maybe on an upward track / a fast track in a company; and they are doing well. They’re getting all these temptations to—well, maybe not lie—but maybe just kind of bend it here or there trying to get to the objective. This would be a good organization to be a part of to sharpen, really, their lives in terms of what God expects out of them; wouldn’t it?
Terence: Absolutely. Let me just make a—maybe take a step back, as well, because I’ve got a little bit different experience than what Bobby shared. Yes, I was in corporate America. I was going through corporate America very successfully. In fact, at 37 years old, here I am managing two-thirds of the Coca-Cola Company; but no one had informed me that I could do what we’re talking about here today. I was under the impression—and the teaching at that time was that you had to leave business in order to become a priest in the world.
So, some of that, I think, is just education and understanding that your business can be used as a platform for ministry.
Go back to the other question. Not only do we want to reach the leaders that are coming through corporate America, but we also want to reach the next generation leaders of tomorrow. One of the goals that we have is to train a million next-gen students who are now currently in college—freshman, sophomores, and juniors. We want to begin to teach them, from a very early stage, that you can be in business and also do it in a way that glorifies God. So, we are reaching back into another generation.
Dennis: Bobby, your company is a green company. You’re working on environmental issues that keep our world cleaner because you are working in countries all around the world.
One of my pet soap boxes—that I wish there were more CEO’s / chairmen of the board that were taking responsibility for our advertising dollars—
—for what’s being spent today on TV / on the internet by major companies, and for that matter, smaller companies too—who are sponsoring things that, from an environmental standpoint—moral and spiritual environment—are destroying the fiber and the conscience of our country. Do you agree with me?
Bobby: I do. And I think we’re in an age of technology, Dennis, that helps us address that. Any venture we’ve done—we’ve done them with General Motors®, with Dow Chemical, with Hitachi®, Hyundai®, MeadWestvaco—any of those—I’ve always started off with this thought of our vision statement, which says, “To be a world-class technology and manufacturing company that operates on biblical principles and glorifies Jesus Christ in the marketplace.”
I’ve read that to the European Union. I’ve read it to major companies, all over this world.
I say: “That’s who we are—if you don’t want to deal with us, that is fine; but that is what we’re going to do. So, you are accepting this if we’re going to deal.” We have tried to, in everything we do, honor the Lord.
And on our website—if you went onto our website, you would see testimonies. You would see our logo—that has a godly principle in the middle of it. You’d see that we have ways to lead people to Christ on our logo with our information—and that we get thousands of hits a year on those various sites. People come to know the Lord.
So, the advertising piece is a critical piece. We’ve got to have Christians stand up and be bold for the Lord. We have a country that is in distress right now, and we need to stand up and return to godly principles. We can do that by advertising and being bold to share that with all the people that come in contact with us.
Dennis: And the men and women who are on the boards of companies around the country— who have choices of where to spend their advertising dollars—need to speak up out of some of the things they heard in Sunday school when they were a boy or a girl, growing up, and what they learned about decency, and morality, and goodness, and wholesomeness for our country and not let companies sponsor matters that are taking our young people in the wrong direction.
Bob: Terence, let me ask you about this idea that a business owner can be a secular priest—a priest in the marketplace. You were talking about thinking that you would have to leave to go be a minister and then you realized you can minister from whatever platform you find yourself in.
I’m thinking of a guy who runs a car repair shop, or a guy who has a manufacturing business, or maybe he’s got a restaurant—whatever his business is—
—he thinks: “A minister in the marketplace. What does that even look like? Does that mean I put Bible verses on my tray liners in my restaurant or what?”
Terence: You know, the average business will touch about a thousand people in a given year. I mean, if you think about it, it goes beyond your staff. It goes beyond your employees. It really reaches into your vendors, your customers, et cetera.
You know, when I owned my own business, I had responsibility for individuals and their lives. In reality, we’re in the souls business. And it—and going back to some of the questions—everyone within that organization has intrinsic value. The way we look at it is that: “We’re in the people business. We’re in the relationship business. And we’re approaching it that way. We just happen to be selling products or services, et cetera.”
We look at every individual as a relationship that needs to be cultivated and nurtured. And what better way to do than to show the love of Jesus Christ?
—by the way we think about business, by the way we do business, et cetera. People will catch that. Once they catch it, they will be attracted to that versus what we say.
Dennis: There are some chairmen of the board of some lemonade stands and some—I don’t know—they’re maybe selling rabbits in their neighborhood—eggs. I have no idea; but there are a bunch of moms, listening to our broadcast right now, who are on the board of those lemonade stands—
Bob: You’re talking about training the next generation; right?
Dennis: I’m talking about training the next generation. I want to give both of you guys the soap box for a moment and say, “What would you challenge moms to be doing?”—and for that matter, let’s throw dads in there, too, because they need to be training their sons and daughters, as well—“What would you challenge them to do as they think about how they’re training the next generation of workers and business leaders to reach their generation for Christ?”
Terence: Well, by myself, I’m going to jump in here really quickly because I’m actually an example of this. When I was in corporate America, and even leading my own business, I was very successful in business. There was a common time when you achieve your most wondrous dreams and desires, but it falls short of really what satisfies you and what makes you whole.
You see, I was succeeding in the business world, but I was failing as the spiritual leader in my home. And it is something magical—I can’t explain it to you—that happens when a father comes to be the spiritual leader of the home. The wife doesn’t want that responsibility in the first place; but she takes it on because she has to because the father’s absent in that role.
So, I began to take that role on. I would really advocate—it’s particularly for the fathers out here, especially in the business place—that the business will give you worthiness and weightiness from a temporal, worldly perspective; but to be the spiritual leader of your home will give you worthiness and weightiness that’s greater than you can ever experience in corporate America.
Dennis: Generationally, it’s going to outlive you.
Bobby: That’s great. I endorse all of that. I would say that—among other things, I decided that I would give up the things in my life that were interfering with either my business, my ministry, or my family. I was a scratch golfer, coming out of high school. I stopped playing golf because I didn’t have the time to commit to do that, but I did coach Little League baseball for 19 years. [Laughter]
I want to go back and add one little thing that we skipped over—and that is that a company, that’s being run for Christ, is not necessarily better than a non-Christian company; but it is different than a non-Christian company. And by that, we’re talking about the bottom line.
The bottom line for a secular company is clearly profit / shareholder value. The bottom line for us—we’ve got to have profits and shareholder value; but in addition, we’ve got to be fruitful: “Did we lead people to the Lord this year? How many? Have we got a program to do that? If we led them to the Lord, did we help raise them up in the way they should go—sanctification? And did we reach out to our community and just be a good citizen, and be a model, and a witness?”
I think we have to go back and say that we’re going to be 24/7 all about walking with the Lord—modeling for the Lord, pointing to the Lord, training up in the ways of the Lord, et cetera. So, that’s what we are all about. It impacts—literally, I believe a company of a hundred people touches ten thousand people—would be my number.
We’ve got a business in China. We use a material called Character First in that company.
That sets forth biblical character qualities in a magazine. It’s handed out to all the members of the company. They are told to take it home and teach their families about it. And so, those are just a few ways that we need to be about the training up of the body.
Dennis: Well, Bobby, I’ve got another way for you to train those folks in China. We have a resource we’ve created in the last couple of years called The Art of Marriage®. We raised the money to have it subtitled or translated into Mandarin; okay? And it’s called The Art of Marriage. It’s got a manual with it. It’s got DVDs that you can show.
And in six hours, we can provide a biblically-based training for all of your employees—all those workers in your factories in China—and equip them to know what a Christian marriage and family looks like.
See, you just walked into a challenge here—right here on radio. [Laughter] I mean, this is—first of all, you are doing—by virtue of what you’ve already done—you’re doing what I think has to happen all across the country—where business leaders, like you, whether they are at the top of the organization or embedded in the organization need to take a stand for Jesus Christ—
Dennis: —and use their position of leadership, influence, stewardship—however you’d like to describe it—and use it for God’s purposes. So, I really believe in what FCCI represents and what you are trying to do with business leaders. I look forward to getting a report back from you soon—
Dennis: —because we’ve got business leaders, here in America, who are taking their employees—
Dennis: —through The Art of Marriage. They are hosting events for their company. They’re not making it mandatory, but they’re inviting them to come.
There are some great stories of people who are coming to faith in Christ as a result of going through The Art of Marriage.
Bob: Now, we’re going to have guests who are going to say, “I’m not coming on FamilyLife Today because Dennis gives me homework assignments”—
Bob: —“if I go on FamilyLife Today.”
Dennis: —you know what? If they don’t want to come because of that, then, they don’t need to be a guest on FamilyLife Today.
Terence: We actually have good news for Dennis today. We’re actually, as a board, going to go through Art of Marriage.
Dennis: Give me a fist pump—give me a fist pump!
Terence: We’re embracing it. In fact, let me give you a God-story here around this. A good friend of yours in Connecticut, Drew Crandall, has offered this course—Art of Marriage—to his employees and is making a major impact on his business, on his staff, and their home life. And, as you know—as we used to say, “A happy home also makes a productive workplace.”
Dennis: Yes, it does. As you were talking about it, I was thinking about another couple, who I think they’re involved in FCCI, as well—Eugene and Donna Chrinian, who run Ashley’s Furniture stores up in the New Jersey area.
He’s doing the same thing in his community and also ministering to his employees.
I think this is what we’re talking about here—if you’re listening to us, find a way to get in the game because this is the right game to be in—and it’s the right time—
Dennis: —for our country to be engaged in it.
Bob: And once again, I want to recommend, to our listeners, if they go to FamilyLifeToday.com—because we’ve got a link there to the website for FCCI, the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International. We’ve got copies of the book, A Walk in the Market, written by our guests today, Bobby Mitchell and Terence Chatmon.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” at the top of the page. You’ll find the link for FCCI and information about how to order a copy of the book, A Walk in the Market. The website—FamilyLifeToday.com—or if it’s easier, call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329.
That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
You know, some of our listeners are business owners, as well. I remember, Dennis, you telling me a story once about somebody who called us and said, “God had really led them to want to support the work that FamilyLife was doing.” They decided that they were going to step out, and they were going to donate their profits from their business for one month out of the year to FamilyLife. They later confessed to us that they picked the month of the year that was always their slowest month. As it turned out, that particular month, God really blessed their business. It wound up being their biggest month of the year. They thought about switching months [Laughter]—you remember this story; right?
Bob: They thought about switching months; but they decided, “No, we’re going to stick with it.” They mailed us a check to help support what we’re doing to keep FamilyLife Today on their local radio station and to help with all that we do here, as a ministry.
The truth is—we couldn’t do all that we’re doing if it weren’t for folks, like that, who support us—and if it weren’t for families, or couples, or individuals who will either make an occasional donation or who become Legacy Partners and support us each month.
If you’d like to make a donation today and help support the work we’re doing, you can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper right-hand corner that says, “I CARE,” and make an online donation. When you do that, check that you’d like to receive a CD from Dennis Rainey—a message he gave on permanence in marriage and why it’s important. You can also make a donation by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY. If you do that, be sure to request the CD from Dennis. Or request the CD when you mail a donation to FamilyLife Today at P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. And our zip code is 72223.
Now, hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend. And I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’ll tell you the story of a group of guys who recently went through FamilyLife’s Stepping Up® video series for men. This was an unusual group of guys—about a hundred of them—all of them doing time in a state prison. We’ll tell you the story about Stepping Up going behind bars on Monday. Hope you can tune in 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 will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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