Gary had failed.
In that way, he is not much different than me or you.
But instead of packing it in — as we so often do — he listened to God’s call on his life to push through that failure.
Gary does accounting and consulting for a large client base of loyal customers. Although his journey is unconventional, his faith in God through the ups and downs is inspiring.
In this interview he talks about how he started his own firm, how he makes faith-based decisions, and how he uses prayer to minister to others through his business.
What is your business?
I work in the field of accounting, tax and business consulting.
How did you get started?
I started out as an articling student, employed full time with a national firm of chartered accountants. I was taking correspondence courses from Queens, doing summer sessions, and writing three days of exams each year. The whole process lasted for 5 years.
Nonetheless, not all who go through this process end up succeeding.
I was one of the ones who failed.
And when you fail for the first time in your life, after investing the best years of your life, it is a moment of crisis. I regrouped, and without a designation, carried on as a staff auditor for eight more years.
The work offered little personal satisfaction.
And although I was an active believer in Jesus, there was a separation between my faith and the tough issues of life. I “toughed it out” until one day, I reached the end. Something had to give.
I’m happy just knowing the next step, not the whole picture
I prayed. The answer came quickly.
The word from the Lord for me came in a short phrase from the story of Moses being called to lead Israel and feeling unprepared and unqualified. The Lord said “what is that in thine hand?”
In that moment I realized the value of who I was and what I had been given.
I realized that although none of my efforts would be valued on a CV, when given to God, they would be invaluable. In that moment, I accepted my call to help people using my training in accounting.
I gave notice, left the firm, and within days had my own clients!
So today, 45 years later, I continue. The orders still stand. I have a large client base, including several who have been with me from the beginning.
If you want, can you explain a bit about your faith journey?
Studies show that when surveyed, the majority of confessing Christians became believers between the ages of 4 and 14.
That was true for me, influenced by a neighbourhood Bible Club, and a local church that presented the importance of a personal salvation experience.
I have clear memories of key events in this period of my faith journey. Coming to Jesus in repentance, receiving salvation and being born again — the essential foundational event on which the rest of life would be lived.
How do you make faith-based decisions?
Living life for me needs constant, clear direction, but I’m happy just knowing the next step, not the whole picture. If I had to identify just one spiritual privilege that I rank first, it is being able to receive clear direction for the next step.
Yes, the act of praying for direction is part of the process. So is reading and assimilating the truths from scripture.
But more importantly, the attitude of expectation, the posture of faith, believing, waiting, praying some more, and never giving up — because God will speak, and clearly.
This is essential and a reality for which I am grateful.
Do you think of your business as a ministry?
I see my business more as a calling than a ministry. I try to meet the needs that present themselves almost daily. Where spiritual tools are more appropriate, I reach into my toolbox and usually choose prayer.
Meeting real people with real needs is a special opportunity for all of us, but in business, you have more control over your time and agenda.
A word of caution — make sure you do not violate professional ethics or unduly use your influence or authority. Praying with a client may be some of the best counsel we can offer, but always get permission before doing this.
What are some ways in which you run your business differently than someone who is not a believer?
Being ethical, honest, reliable, and respectful. These are some of the ways.
I practice “value billing”, but also practice “pro bono” when I determine that the client needs help, but cannot a?ord the fee.
Should we grow businesses or keep them small? Do you think that faith plays a role in this at all, or is this question irrelevant?
With God’s leading, and without pride, live up to your privileges and opportunities. Riches can be a snare, but offer real opportunities to help others.
Providing employment to others is helping in a very real way.
Do you struggle with the ethics of selling and marketing? What has helped you with this?
If you have the ability to genuinely meet a need, and you meet a prospect who has the need that you can meet, the prospect will be excited to have found you.
Marketing is the attempt to make the connection. Honesty and integrity are essential for a successful outcome.
Is there a time when you really had to rely on God for something, when you have had to make a “leap of faith”?
Usually, the leap was made first and then I had to rely on God for recovery.
More than once, and this is especially gratifying, I took a leap, things went so so, and in the end, an unintended consequence turned out to be the real blessing.
How do you think about work/life balance?
First of all, work is your friend, not your enemy.
It is a privilege to work. Work brings a wonderful sense of satisfaction. If it isn’t that way for you, pray and ask God to change you, what you do, or who you work for.
Second, since that day I recounted earlier, I have always integrated my work with family and with life. This works for me. Enjoy the journey.
What habit have you developed over the years that you think others would benefit from having?
Don’t try to do everything yourself.
Do what you do best and hire the rest. Appreciate your staff and your clients. Enjoy the journey.
Expect God to show you the next step and He will.
This article first appeared in marketplacedisciples.com
Marketplace disciples is to encourage Christians who are faithfully serving the Lord in the marketplace and to further the conversation around how faith and business can come together to serve God’s kingdom.