Leading an Unbalanced Life with Charlie Haines
Today’s show features Charlie Haines, Founder and CEO of The Provident Project which offers the Unstatus Your Quo Process – helping Christians clarify and fulfill their purpose.
Prior to starting the Provident Project, Charlie owned and served for 32 years in a fee-only financial planning firm.
Full transcript of the podcast below:
Ray: Hello everyone, this is Ray Hilbert and I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith. We would like to welcome you back to another episode. I am in Birmingham, Alabama, and I am really, really excited to have a conversation today with my friend and now to be your friend, Charlie Haines. Charlie is the founder of The Provident Project company here and headquartered here in Birmingham, and we are going to learn all about Charlie and his story today. So Charlie, first thank you for joining us today and welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Charlie: It’s terrific to be here thank you for the invitation.
Ray: Well, Charlie, I am really excited to get into your story and into your journey because it’s a powerful one, and I just know that our listeners are going to be encouraged and blessed and prayerfully even challenged today. But would you take just a moment and tell us about the Provident Project and particularly some things that caught my attention. I don’t know whether this is a tagline or the purpose exactly, what I’m hoping you’ll help us understand more, but you talk about “Unstatus Your Quo.” So tell us about The Provident Project and what do you mean by “Unstatus Your Quo”?
Charlie: “Unstatus Your Quo” means to change. Change the life that you are living right now and it’s for people who know deep down inside that either from sadness, frustration they’ve had these adrenaline-producing experiences in life trying to fill a hole in their life. They may even be fearful and they know they need to change, and so we felt that “Unstatus Your Quo” was a fitting description of what they will go through in a tagline or just whatever one may want to call it to describe the process that they’re about to go through.
Ray: I love that and we’re going to talk more about that. And so then tell us then a little bit more about The Provident Project, your company, and how it is that you go about helping people work through that process.
Charlie: Well, first of all people go through a self-assessment and they decide I need this and so what we do is we have a five session process that includes, and it pulls from biology, psychology, theology, business techniques, their exercises, and through that process, people clarify their purpose and then they’re set up to take action to fulfill their purpose.
Ray: So recently I had a chance to, and this is true, I was in a city in another state, I was in a bookstore, and I noticed there is an incredible– I don’t know percentage of the store that had books, self-help books, psychology books– it seems likes we’re living in a culture that, you know, we have everything and yet we feel so empty and so hollow. So talk to us a little bit about this issue of finding purpose. What does that mean, and is it greater than just going to work and making a living and providing for my family? What does that mean, and how do you help help me understand that?
Charlie: Yes, we call it the big question when people say, “How can I discover my purpose in life and then live the life to fulfill that purpose?” The big question that’s a very complicated question and one of the differences that we see in the process that the Lord has lead us to develop is that it splits that question into three digestible components leading to an action plan and a tool that you can use for the rest of your life. The first part of it is the why. This is why, how, what that Simon Sinek has made so famous, popular. The why is you have to answer the question, “Why was mankind created?” And once you understand that, you’ve got your purpose cause we’re all members of mankind. The next step is how do we fulfill the purpose still as members of mankind? And the answer to that question is to abide in God’s will in the basic areas of life. And then we move on to how you individually, uniquely, and when I say unique, unique is an absolute. Some people say very unique, or somewhat unique; no, it’s not somewhat or very unique. Unique is unique, and God has designed each of us uniquely. There has never been somebody like you, Ray. There’s nobody like you now, and there never will be somebody like you, just like you. And so we explore what about you and what actions you can take to increase your abidance in God’s will, ultimately leading to fulfilling the purpose that he has for you.
Ray: I’m really excited to dive into this, and if it’s okay with you, Charlie, in a few moments I’d like to maybe have you share a couple of the powerful questions or a couple of aspects of that journey that you take your clients on around their purpose. But this whole thing as I understand it, what you’re doing now with your company is really a result of the journey that God has had you on. Can we talk about that?
Charlie: Absolutely. And this may be one fat, hairy projection of myself on others. But my calling is to help people avoid what I did, the mistakes I’ve made. And then what to do not just to avoid, but what can you do in a positive way, that the lessons that the Lord has given us throughout our life and direct that energy, our faith, our love to really trying to glorify Him.
Ray: Okay, so in order to do that, let’s let’s walk, let’s walk through your story. Let’s walk through your journey. Were you brought up in a Christian home or an environment? How and when did you come into a relationship with Christ? Just give us some framework of understanding of your story and your pathway.
Charlie: Yes, I was born in Linford, Virginia, but I basically grew up outside of New York City. I lost my accent as you can probably tell. It was a cultural Christian home and then there’s an incident where I did an intervention with my mother at age 16, and my father ultimately ended up choosing the enabling relationship with her over me and over my sister and my brother and so I felt I was on my own. And I just gave up on stuff and I became agnostic and there I was. I was on my own. Fortunately however, I was sent off to prep school and I attended some amazing schools and if a human being on this Earth can have had numerous opportunities, and I had many opportunities. However, even overtly from one of the schools, I learned that I was supposedly part of the intelligentsia part of the leadership class; arrogant, had some prejudices, and I grew into this ugly person. Now frankly, I had successes in the worldly life, but it was I just had this big hole still and so at age forty-four, two men came into my life. An incident happened, and I ended up having at age forty-four having an intellectual acceptance of the Trinity; what it might mean and all, but I was still sorta plugging along at that. But it was a step away from agnosticism and then the nine years, probably the toughest nine years of my life happened. Where I started the vision of the company that I had at that time, right before recession, had cancer, three operations, that same year, my alcoholic mother and my father moved to town ended up disrupting some relationships, she died, a divorce, two children with medical issues I just I could go on and on.
Ray: These were all things going on in your life?
Charlie: In my life.
Charlie: And that was after I said, “Okay God, I mean Jesus, Hey, I’m with you.” This intellectual understanding. But he had more to teach me and that big event in my life was when I realized woe is me is not working during these years, but what did work was when I said, “Lord, I know you’re trying to teach me something,” and I leaned in to every one of these events and try to learn what he was trying to teach me. And so that was a big change in my life, and then I had cancer. It had come back, and when you have prostate cancer, and if it comes back in seven years, that’s not a good sign. Now fortunately, I’m okay and I’m one of the only two patients in the practice that had a certain kind of situation and all that says it looks like I’m not going to have to go with some of the treatments, and I’m going to live for quite a bit longer. And so I was contemplating that, and stepped into an elevator in the lobby and it was around lunch time so I don’t know why nobody else was in there, cause they’re always people in the elevator around lunchtime. And I close the doors and I finally surrendered to Christ.
Ray: Right there in an elevator?
Charlie: Yes. It’s really hard to describe what happened. I never felt the power and the strength and the profound peacefulness and the elation, and I just with my pea brain, you know, I just can’t come up with the words to describe what it felt like. And then I was on the fifth floor and the doors opened and it opened to my new life, and I was literally just walking around the lobby. Still nobody there, around lunch time which is extraordinary. Like what just happened I have no, I have no plan. I don’t know where is this going to lead me? Where? And so there I was and I grab the door handle of the office and I walked in. And I just went to my office and close the door, and well, I didn’t have a plan. And I know that, well, I don’t want to compare myself at all, but a tiny bit to Paul on the road to Damascus. I just had my road to Damascus experience. I felt and I had no plan that I didn’t know what to do. Well, the economy, my first test of my faith ,I had to fire the number two person in the business. I thought it was going to collapse, and it didn’t. And then there was a Great Recession hit and all kinds of things were a distraction. I was going to church and singing in the choir things. But I was just so thirsty I wasn’t getting it at that particular church, and so a stepson actually said, “Charlie, there’s this church down the road called Brook Hills where this fellow by the name of David Platt is preaching, and I think you might like that.” And so, sure enough, I became a believer when I was in the elevator, but with David and Matt Mason, and listening to podcasts such as Francis Chan and many others, I became a follower. And there is quite a difference.
Ray: Can we talk about that, you know this fifth floor Damascus Road experience, right? You didn’t step into that elevator expecting that you had a divine visit from the Holy Spirit, right?
Ray: And so would you elaborate? You had been a believer in Christ at that point, how long? A few years?
Charlie: That was probably five years.
Ray: So let’s say you had been a believer in Jesus for roughly five years and years prior that had this intellectual relationship or understanding. But tell us more about your understanding and experience of the difference between now being a follower of Jesus versus just a believer in Jesus.
Charlie: All in, motives different. Rather than showing up and singing at the choir in the very visible way, aren’t I a Christian? And I don’t mean to come off as the people that are doing that, everybody’s like that. But for me, that’s kind of what it was like, and going through the motions, but after experiencing what I experienced, my children start saying, “Who’s this new dad?” Why I wanted to do things was different. My outlook. It ultimately led to me I was in the wealth management business, and my clients were millionaires, to people worth hundreds of millions, and I just was convicted of here; I’m doing this, I’m helping already wealthy people become wealthier. There’s nothing wrong with the wealth, but the increase in the wealth and all, and I was possibly helping increase their sense of self-reliance. And with that, I was possibly leading them away from Christ and I could relate to that the self-reliance and not leaning on Jesus, so I couldn’t do that anymore. I tried some different ways and all, but I was, I was all in and I couldn’t be all in in the position that I was in. And so that is what inspired The Provident Project; to help people be all in.
Ray: And so you started this firm, The Provident Project, and then what happened to your wealth management firm? Did you just kind of step out of that or walk us through that?
Charlie: Oh that’s a good point. I forgot that minor detail. I sold it.
Charlie: And I sold it to a great organization led by just an amazing Christian, but I just had to be all in. I’m 63 years old and I just wanted to use the time that I had left and the gifts that God has given me and the financial resources to help others.
Ray: Okay, so Charlie, if someone’s really intrigued by what we talked about so far and they want to learn more about you or about The Provident Project, what’s the best way for them to track you down?
Charlie: Well, they can find us at unstatusyourquo.com
Ray: Say that again.
Charlie: unstatusyourquo.com And we know we’ve made up a word, but it seems to fit.
Ray: It’s fantastic and it sticks. It’s very sticky, and even more importantly, it’s significant. And so, Charlie, just one more point than I want to get more into what you’re doing now with the Provident Project. But in your own journey, your own experience how is your life different? How are your priorities different? What are the conversations that are different now that you’re a follower of Jesus? Where does your time go differently now that you’re a follower of Jesus versus being a believer? What is truly different in your life?
Charlie: My priorities are solid now. I have so much awareness studying God’s will for me in those areas and so I become a much better steward of my time, and right now that’s really my most limited resource. Some people may say my gifts are limiting resource for me and then financially. And so a much better steward of that, their intentionality is absolutely part of everything I do. I’m also I have a hard time being participants in conversations about treating symptoms as opposed to causes. For example, my wife and I do some work and I’ll just say Africa medical clinics, and when people say, “Well, why are you going to that part of the world?” and I’ll include some of the Middle East in that. And I said, “Well, there are no amount of guns, soldiers, anything that’s been going on for years and years and years. What they need is Jesus. That’s the only solution to all this going on in the Middle East and Africa and civil wars and all.” And so that’s another change, and going to an area. Yes, and some people would say it’s I mean it’s in the top 10 most dangerous areas, but we have to go, we have to go to the nations.
Ray: That’s a pretty specific example that’s something that’s different and really putting it on the line right? So let’s talk then a little bit about some of the things that in your own journey that led you and lead you in the in the Provident Project. So you’ve made some mistakes along the way. So what’s a mistake or two that you can look back on and say I learned this from that mistake and maybe you can pass along. What’s a big mistake you made and what did you learn from it?
Charlie: What kind of husband I was. Paying too much, spending too much time on the business, the career; not taking time to notice the little things. I’m going from a big issue to a smaller one, not noticing the little things, not being vulnerable as much. I mean there is just so many things that I learned. I’ve remarried to an amazing lady, this amazing wife that where we pray together at night, we’re growing together, we’re equally yoked, and just loves the Lord. I just learned so much that I’m now a fortunate, I have the opportunity to love and lead Nancy and it’s just it’s an amazing. I mean I’ve been in tears before, and now I’m in tears and smiles; it’s been terrific. And I pray that others– I have fifteen things that I now say to my children as they’re about to get married or recently married, about marriage and money. And my twenty-eight year old twin and I just two weeks ago went through it together with his wife listening in. And he and I and she were all in tears, and it’s just because of the heartfelt, biblically-based expressions that– and he’s not a believer, but I pray that my children will because that’s another mistake. Because I was not a follower of Christ, I did not teach them, and so they’re out in the world not without Christ, I mean, not believing.
Ray: One of those things that you wish you had done differently I guess right?
Charlie: Yes. but I have an opportunity now we’re in one of the groups it’s going through the purpose, process or the Unstatus Your Quo process. I talk to him Monday and he told me that he already after just two sessions, I mean he’s changed. What he– I mean one session actually, and we had a second session impromptu over the phone, but he is already making changes in his life and he’s such, as he’s praying with his five year old little bit, and then the five year old said, “ Daddy in six days, I want to pray.” And so he is leading his son in prayer and just to see the changes and the growth in this man in being better. And also women have gone through, so it’s, it’s just been so rewarding.
Ray: Oh I love it; I love it. Well, Charlie, one of the questions that I’m curious about, you know you talked about earlier on maybe not paying attention to your wife or your family the way you should have. Now you’ve got a second chance right? To do it in a different way. But this kind of then begs the question, around this concept of balance or addressing priorities in life. So I think I know what your answer is going to be, but how do you balance it all?
Charlie: I intentionally don’t.
Ray: Say that again.
Charlie: I intentionally do not try to lead a balanced life. That is more of a Buddhist concept, and we should not have a balanced life. We should be focused on, let’s say assuming faith is your number one priority, and that should receive more attention than anything else from us. And of the time, talent, treasure, compared to something like rest. Now rest is important, but my wife and I intentionally decided, all right, we’re just not going to have as much rest as we might normally have this year because we’re going to go two to three times to that country, and do what we do there. And yeah, we’re going to be tired, a little bit more tired this year, but that’s, that’s an intentional decision that we have, we have made.
Ray: So that’s more about a life of priority and not a life of balance.
Ray: That’s what I’m hearing. Am I getting that?
Charlie: Yes, that is correct.
Ray: Okay, so now I’ve come to this point in this conversation; I am just dying to know more about this whole concept of Unstatus Your Quo. And I want to dive in a little bit deeper. What would be the type of person, or what kinds of thoughts or feelings would a person be having right now or uncertainties that need to talk to, Charlie, and need to know about this process. Would you help me understand that?
Charlie: Yes, it’s going to be the people who are frustrated with the status quo. People who are curious about, can it be different or they have the sense that life can be more fulfilling, or they have fear, or they’re just sad. They’ve gone through an event in life and they, or even empty nester. Talked to a lady who said she didn’t know who she was, she had poured so much into her children that she didn’t even know what her favorite food was because she had just been feeding everybody else. Or what her favorite color, or music, or what she didn’t know who she was. So this can help somebody be reoriented and understand, okay here is my purpose and now how I can fulfill it. We have a self-assessment questionnaire and just to give you fifteen questions, and you would answer never, sometimes, or often. I had a client who said this: “We are too busy living life to think about life.” And I thought all that is so sad that they’re too caught up in the country club, in the presidency, he was president, and all kinds of stuff.
Charlie: Yeah, well, trappings but also activity. And so one of the questions is, “Do you have a sense that you are too busy living life to think about life?” You’re on the treadmill and that’s happening today in our economy growing so quickly. And don’t have enough people to hire and so organizations are requiring more of their people. People are getting busier and busier and busier. With Facebook encouraging activities busier and busier and busier. If you want to have a fake Facebook life, you have to do this and this and this. Feeling that you are stuck in a rut without direction or an escape route is another one. Just a general sense that there’s something missing in your life you can’t pinpoint a constant need for adrenaline-producing experience is like buying the latest stuff; fancier vacations, more success at work, more money, a better car, etc. to fill an emptiness in your life. It’s not going to do it. A desire to leave a lasting and meaningful legacy. Well, it just so happens, at least my thoughts are a lasting legacy is the natural consequence of a fulfilled purpose. You can’t say, “Okay, I’m going to have a lasting legacy,” and try to go for the end result. It just happens if you have a fulfilled life. So I mean, there are all kids of questions. And we have three different ways that people can go through the process. We’re going to have two more next year or later this year.
Ray: Well in fact that’s a great segue, because okay, let’s say I’m listening to this conversation and go, “Wow, some of those questions and things that you just, that describes me. You know, I’m running this company or I’m leading this or doing this, and we’re doing it and these are the things that I’m feeling and I’m on this treadmill or rat race, you know, that and so forth. But Charlie’s in Birmingham, Alabama, and I’m in Burbank, California, or I’m in New York City, or I’m in, you know my hometown of Indianapolis. Can you still help me?
Charlie: Yes. I can help you in three different ways. One would be one-on-one and with a Skype, Zoom, or using technology. That’s one way. Another way is that you could join a group and we have two versions of a group, whether it’s a Facebook meeting group or a group that’s in your area. We had people who said, “Hey, I want to do this but I want to do it in a group because part of it is studying Scripture, and I want to hear the thoughts of others,” and so they form a group. The other way is as an individual on the internet with a combination of videos and different levels of coaching. You can go through that and by the way, I know this may sound like some advertising; this is us. We’re not trying to make a bunch of money; this is frankly doing just fine. Have done just fine. This is to reach more people; and we want to drive the cost down farther and farther. And the pastor John that I talked about before said, “Charlie, you’re thinking too small.” And he was the one who encouraged me, “You’re probably thinking of America or North America,” and I said, “Yes sir.” And he said, “It’s the world’s church needs this.” And he wants it to go to the countries where he is equipping pastors and helping them lead people in this process. So we’re not trying to make much money; we’re just trying to go to the nations with something that can strengthen Christians.
Ray: That’s fantastic. And I’m suspecting that if I’m, let’s say I’m a business owner listening to this conversation, is this something that might help the leaders in my company? Let’s face it: is stewardship one of my roles? Is the need to help my people be better and perform better and bring results in their leadership, is this a process that might help them as well?
Charlie: Well, it’s funny that you just mentioned that.
Ray: This wasn’t pre-planned, by the way.
Charlie: No, it wasn’t. No, it wasn’t. I received an email from a fellow I talked to. He was a mentor of some young people, and he’s the CEO of a corporation, and I was telling him about it, and he said, “Well, I’ve got somebody, a young person on my staff I think could benefit from this; maybe make it part of his developmental plan.” And I got an email from him, and I said, “What’s the latest?” And he said, “Well, actually I think I’m, I need it.” And so he is going to go through the process and so absolutely. And he will be a better steward of all, everything that God has given him after this process.
Ray: I love it. So Charlie, one more time tell us how listeners can learn about you and what you’re doing at The Provident Project. How can they find you?
Charlie: They can go to the website which is unstatusyourquo, all one word, .com
Ray: Very good. Now unsatusyourquo.com, very intriguing website link there. Very intriguing. You said made up word, but I love it’s sticky and it’s very intriguing to me. So Charlie, you’ve been on this amazing journey; God has moved you through this process. You’ve talked about going from being a believer, an intellectual understanding, to now a follower of Christ, and so you’ve obviously been on a great journey, and so I would like you to take a couple of moments ask a couple questions I want to ask around this whole concept of advice. I would like you to imagine in your mind going back and giving advice to the twenty-year-old you. What advice would the sixty-three-year old Charlie give to the twenty-year-old Charlie?
Charlie: Well, it’s going to be overall, understand God’s will and abide in his will in the basic areas of your life. Properly motivated though; it’s not because you’re going through the motions and this is something you’re supposed to do, but you’re doing it because, about the love and the fear that you have. The love you want to please him, the fear is the beginning of wisdom of gaining wisdom, and so with proper motives and abiding in his will for you, you will please him.
Ray: I love it. I love it. So Charlie, the last question I’d love to ask is based out of Proverbs chapter four, verse twenty-three. And I read this every time, these are the words of Solomon who says above all else, guard your heart for it determines the course of your life. And so Charlie, I want you to imagine that you have a chance at the end of your time this side of Eternity to gather your family, your friends, those who are most precious to you and you now get the chance to pass along in your mind. What is the single most important piece of advice that you could pass along for the audience? So fill in the blank: above all else…
Charlie: Besides what I just said, I would say look to Matthew, I think 6:21: where your treasure is, your heart will be also. And for the grandparents and parents in the world, I say our children and our grandchildren learn more from us by our actions; not our words. And so how we spend our time, and how we spend our money, and use our gift says, gives them the lessons that they learn. And I’d also add to that I think it’s James 4:17 talking about the sin of omission when you know what to do but you don’t do it. That is also a sin. So make your mistakes by commission, make your mistakes by trying, and you will avoid this sin, and you know you will avoid some of the sin from omission. And I guess lastly for a corporate executive or manager, people are not trying to make mistakes; when they make a mistake, ask three questions: What in our process let you down? And if it wasn’t the process, and you’re clarifying the process and all, what in our training let you down? And if the training was adequate and all, then we have to work on what in you let you down? That way you can create a safe environment. People know when there are mistakes, cause there always will be mistakes, but there will be a process, a safe process to go through and say, “Okay, well let’s fix the process.” And it takes it, okay you tried the process; it just wasn’t good enough, but too often we go directly to the person.
Ray: I really love that, Charlie. And recently I had a chance to interview an amazing business man out of Houston, Texas. His name is Dougal Cameron, and he made this statement; he says, “Why do people lie?” And he was talking about in business, particular; why do people lie? Why do they cover up? And he said it’s because we have created an environment where they don’t feel that it’s safe to make a mistake. And so then they feel the need to be perfect, and cover up when they’re less than perfect. That’s what I’m hearing, is just reinforcing that. Would you agree with that?
Charlie: I do.
Ray: I love it. Well, folks, my friend, now your friend, Charlie Haines, the founder of the Provident Project in Birmingham, Alabama. If you want to learn what it means, I love this, to Unsatus Your Quo, that sounds dangerous to me, Charlie. That sounds risky, that sounds exciting, but it also sounds very countercultural; it sounds like something God is probably calling me to consider, probably calling our audience to consider. So I want to thank you for joining us on today’s Bottom Line Faith program.
Charlie: Thank you so much, Ray, for this opportunity.
Ray: You got it. You got it. Well, folks, I know that you have been encouraged by our guest Charlie Haines, today. This is what we’re all about here at Bottom Line Faith. As we say on every program, “Look, if just one person hears this conversation that we’ve had today with Charlie and you’re challenged. Just one, and this whole concept that Charlie’s been talking about Unsatus Your Quo, become a true follower, find your purpose; if that has resonated with you today, then this program has been a success.” And that’s our prayer for even if just one of you is encouraged to take that next step, and I would encourage the next step is free to reach out; get in touch with Charlie, go to his website, unsatusyourquo.com, talk to your pastor, talk to a business advisor, talk to someone who’s going to challenge you to become more of who and what God is calling you to be. That’s what we’re all about here at Bottom Line Faith.
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