The Cost of Addiction in Life and Business with Steve Ward
Steve Ward joins Ray once again to discuss his new career as the founder of a non-profit, his own journey of addiction and recovery, and his mission to help people live a life of recovery before their addictions destroy their lives.
Steve Ward is the best selling author of the book STEPS: A Daily Journey to a Better Life, about the transforming power of recovery. Having been in the business world for over thirty years, Steve has been able to pull principles from management, leadership, and his own experience with deep trials to help others find freedom.
Steve is the Executive Director of STEPS Ministries, dedicated to communicating life-changing spiritual and practical principles to help people improve their lives and grow closer to God.
“Let go of the shame that is keeping you isolated.”
“It’s a lot riskier for you to keep doing something you’re not supposed to be doing, than for you to follow your calling.”
“The safest place you can be is when you’re in your area of God’s calling.”
1. Our addictive behaviors of choice haven’t gone anywhere.
2. We’re all addicted to something.
3. Addiction is common in every company.
4. Addiction is treatable; recovery is a lifestyle.
Previous Bottom Line Faith episode with Steve Ward
STEPS book on Amazon
Ray: Hello everyone. This is Ray Hilbert. I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith. We’d like to welcome you back to another episode of the program where we get the opportunity to travel around the country and interview incredible Christ followers who love Jesus and who are living out their faith and impacting the world for Christ in the marketplace.
We interview entrepreneurs and CEOs and high-capacity business leaders. We just have a conversation. We talk with them about how their faith impacts their life and their leadership, how their relationship with Christ has gotten them through difficult times, and the lonely times of leadership. And the paradox or the paradigm, I guess, that we’re trying to address is this eternal business, real life.
And as followers of Christ in the marketplace, it is a real tension. And I use that word intentionally. It is a tension of the balance of eternal business with real life. In other words, we want to honor God and build things with kingdom impact and lasting eternal value. And at the same time, we have demands of the current world in the situation. We have accountability, we have cashflow, we have employees, we have deadlines, we have the real life that we have to deal with. The real life of balancing home and family and those things. So that’s what we’re all about here at Bottom Line Faith.
So this is cool. It’s unique today because I feel like we’re on part two of a conversation that we began probably a little over two years ago. I’m in Birmingham, Alabama. And I’m speaking with Steve Ward, who is the Founder and Executive Director of Steps Ministries. Now, last time we talked, life was a little different. So Steve, we’re going to talk about that. Welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Steve: Thank you, Ray. Glad to have you here. And I’ve been looking forward to this.
Ray: We are going to learn all about Steps Ministries, your journey, how God is using you in the marketplace. But when we talked two years ago, life looked a little different for you. What were you doing when we sat down to have a conversation two years ago?
Steve: Just a bit different. At that point I was working for one of the world’s largest technology companies, which is IBM, which has 400,000 employees in 175 countries. And now I’m working for an entrepreneurial nonprofit organization with a staff of one.
Ray: And that Steps Ministries. And that’s what we’re going to talk about. So you were trained as an engineer, much of your career in sales and marketing, and we’d covered a lot of that in the last conversation. But we did mention, in our first time together, the book that you wrote. When did you write this book?
Steve: It’s been several years now. It was about four or five years ago after our family had gone through a series of trials.
Ray: Yeah, absolutely. And the name of Steve’s book is called Steps, A Daily Journey to a Better Life. And this was really birthed out of your own path of brokenness, and you just talked about. What caused you to write this book? And I know that it led into what we’re going to talk about today, Steps Ministries. But just tell us what we’ll find in this book.
Steve: It did, and they are connected, Ray. First, it starts with the story that I was a highly functioning alcoholic for a good bit of my business career. And if you only hear one thing from this message, I know that I’m speaking to a lot of other highly functioning alcoholics and addicts out there. And I hope that you know that you’re heard and that it’s okay and there are steps you can take.
But I was one for a long time. And it turned out that my lifelong companion, my wife, was my drinking buddy for a while. And then it got even darker when our older son got into high school. And he went on a journey that involved both drugs and alcohol and that became agonizing and tumultuous. So our family was exposed to recovery and counseling in many, many forms.
But to me, that actually became an exciting journey. I saw that one of the world’s worst problems, which is addiction, is actually treatable. If you’ll do the things that they teach in recovery and surrender yourself to God, it is treatable. And that not only what you learn in recovery does it help you deal with your substance or behavior of choice, it is a lifestyle that helps you be more balanced personally, professionally, spiritually, and emotionally.
And finally, at the core of many recovery programs, or what’s called the 12 steps. And I looked at those and I saw how biblically sound they were. So I thought, “This is fantastic.” And the question that hit me, which actually changed the course of my life at that point was, “Why do we wait until people crash and burn and then send them through two years of recovery. That makes no sense whatsoever. Why don’t we take these principles, these valid biblically based lifestyle principles and teach them to people earlier and have parents raise their kids this way and have professional development programs and businesses include this as part of their toolkit to have young marriages and young people study this in school.”
And so it was that that led me to write the book, Steps, how do you take the principles of recovery to the rest of the world. And it set me on a journey, which eventually led to me to retire from IBM and found a nonprofit.
Ray: You used a term I’ve heard, I’m sure most in our audience have heard, but I’m not sure we fully understand. You use this term highly functioning alcoholic. What is that? What does that mean? And how do we know if that is us?
Steve: That’s a really interesting question. And when I first started the ministry, I didn’t use that term to describe myself. I just said that I was an alcoholic. And I didn’t use it because one is, I didn’t want to pretend that I was only a partial alcoholic and I didn’t want to be prideful and claim that I was highly functional so therefore it was okay.
But after a while … because I talked to businessmen and business women every week, all the members of my board of advisors are CEOs. So I’m in that space a lot. And what I started noticing is when the concept of being a highly functional alcoholic came up, the level of interest increased. And people would ask questions just like what you asked like, “Well, what is a highly functioning alcoholic? And how do you know if you are one?”
The point being, there are many, many people in every company who have an issue. It’s a way that they used to cope with life. It may be alcohol, or it may be pills, or it may be pornography, or it may be a habit such as gambling or spending money or materialism. And in some cases it’s the work itself is the addictive behavior. And in fact, they have an addiction.
An addiction is a compulsive behavior you do over and over again that has negative consequences and you find it hard to stop. Well, guess what, we’re all addicted to something. And there’s a lot of people who are able, just as I was. I was highly successful at IBM for a long time. And there’s a lot of people like that, out in the real world, who are highly functional alcoholics and addicts.
Ray: And so what are the traits or the characteristics, it means like, okay, I can have this many drinks or this many pills or whatever and still get my job done. I grew up … My biological dad, lifelong alcoholic, never licked it, never got through it, died on the streets, never could really hold down a job. That to me is the picture. But this is a different thing. So what’s that limit or what are those traits that differentiates the high performing highly functioning alcoholic?
Steve: Yeah. It’s a good question. And I’m actually preparing some curriculum now where I’m going to be talking to a bunch of leaders of small groups and I’m going to be talking to them about how can they be more aware that some of the people in their groups could be highly functioning addicts or alcoholics.
The amazing thing is, people become extremely creative on hiding their behavior when they want to. And so that’s one thing to know, there can be someone you can be friends with or a coworker with for a long time and you may not know a secret part of their life that they keep secret. So that’s one thing.
Another thing that’s an interesting component is a lot of people think that alcoholics or addicts is, even if they are in our company, maybe they’re the guy out on the loading dock or maybe they’re the woman down in accounting, when that’s often not the case. If you look at the characteristics that make a high performing leader and you see attributes that include a strong orientation toward control, a self starter, creative, probably a strong ego which can turn into pride and at times arrogance, statistically, many of the attributes of high performing leaders align almost eerily with the attributes of addiction.
So very often, the person who may be the high functioning alcoholic could be your vice president of operations or your top salesman because they’re wired that way. And for me, when I was in sales, it was a work hard, play hard culture. And in fact, it was part of the culture to go out and entertain. And if I worked real hard, 11 hours a day and came home, I felt I had a long list of incredible rationalizations why it was okay for me to drink.
Ray: You had earned it, right?
Steve: I’d earned it. I deserved it.
Ray: And so I guess some could argue and maybe some have argued with you that, “Well, if it’s not getting in the way of me doing my job and taking care of my family and meeting the obligations, then I really don’t have a problem.” That ever come up?
Steve: It does come up. And I want to come back to your issue, but I want to speak again to anyone who’s hearing this, who’s starting to feel nervous or you’re starting to feel like, “I’m going to turn this podcast off because I’m not sure I want to listen to it.” Keep listening. Just know that even if you do have an issue, it’s okay because we all have issues. It’s not just you against the world. We all have things that we deal with.
And there are steps that you can take that where you will find more peace, joy, and purpose and you’ll work yourself through this. You’re not going to be berated on this podcast with guilt and shame for what you’re doing, quite the opposite. I want you to feel like there are steps you can take in and that we’re all flawed individuals, so that’s okay.
Ray: How would I know that I’m a highly functioning alcoholic? I have a couple of drinks, I do this, I do that. Where’s that tipping point? Where’s that line of demarcation?
Steve: It’s normally not a number. I may mention a number in a minute as a guideline, but at its core is, who’s in control? Are you in control of your drinking or is your drinking in control of you? In other words, what does it mean to you? I have a lot of friends at my church or in all the circles who could have a couple of drinks and it’s like no big deal. Whether they have them or not is not a primary importance to them.
When I drank alcohol, that made no sense to me. The reason you would have one or two beers was so that you could have the third and the fourth. And it was more part of who I was and it controlled me. So part of it is, what role does it play in your life? If you start noticing behavior, like you’re starting to hide what you do from others, in other words, you lie about how many drinks you’ve had or you hide alcohol around the house, or you sneak out and do it, well that’s a pretty good sign that you’re moving in the wrong direction and that you’re probably already there.
Again, I wouldn’t say that the primary barometer is a number, but for a male, if you have over three drinks on a regular basis or you look around at the end of a week and you’ve had 14 or 15 or 16 over the course of a week, you’re heading in the wrong direction. And if you’re a woman, just because you’re normally smaller and maybe you have less muscle mass, the numbers would be lower than that.
And I will say that if you look at trends these days on both alcohol and on addictive substance like pills, that unfortunately, as women have come into the workforce, they’re facing many of the pressures that men are and their addiction rates are going up.
Ray: That’s very tragic, of course. And so do you have any tools or resources or assessments that would be like, “Okay, here, let me answer these 10 questions to give me some guidelines.” Does anything like that exist that might help me come to grips with whether or not I fall into this category?
Steve: Yes, I’ve built a number of those tools. In any particular area, the way I’ll go about it is I’ll go and research and I’ll look at what subject matter experts around the world have done in that area. But most of that information is normally either inaccessible to people, because they don’t know where it is or it’s not very user friendly. So I’ll synthesize that and make a very easy to use tool.
So I have one tool … If you got to start somewhere, I have one called the average guy tool. This would apply to women as well, but this one that holistically looks at across the areas of your life, how are you acting in certain areas? It gives you a feel for, “In what areas of my life might be something missing?”
I’ve got one related to alcohol use. I’ve got one related to your business. Does it have policies and procedures that are supportive of a wellness approach? I’ve got a number of them for parents. I’ve got a real good assessment tool for parents that in a few minutes you can go through and see which of your kids is in most danger and from where is that danger coming?
So yes, using tools and assessments and methodologies like that are a great way to get started. And that leads you naturally into, “Okay, now I can read a couple articles or listen to a podcast or watch a short video,” and move on from there.
Ray: So let’s just camp there just for a moment. So, I’m a parent and I’ve got some concern, potential concerns about my teenager. What are some of the telltale signs that I need to be looking out for? And what role does social media and technology play in all that?”
Steve: Yeah. The theme of telltale signs is, are things changing and you can’t explain why they’re changing. Now, as kids age, as they become 10, 11, 12, or teenagers, they will change naturally just based on them growing up in the environment they’re operating in. But when you start to notice changes that aren’t natural and you can’t explain, and it could be their grades start to go down over a period of time or they become more reclusive or they lie to you more, or you used to see their friends around the house all the time and now you never see their friends and they’re hanging around with people that you don’t know.
And when you start to talk to your son or daughter about their behavior, they become increasingly defensive, even angry. Those are some of the telltale signs that start to say, “Something is going on in their life.” It may or may not be an addictive substance, but they are surely clues that something is going on.
Ray: Okay. So I think that’s a great segue then into talking about Steps Ministries and some of the ways that you can help. Are we in an epidemic in our country in this regard?
Steve: The answer is, yes. I think though people are almost becoming blahzay about the word, epidemic, but it’s actually not getting better, it’s getting worse. And there’s multiple things causing it. One is, our addictive behaviors of choice haven’t gone anywhere. We have just as many alcoholics as we always have. And especially in a white collar, upper to middle class environment.
Alcohol is just a socially accepted mechanism, even in a work environment. So in more affluent neighborhoods, kids are growing up with a tremendous amount of pressure on them. It’s very easy for them to find an outlet. And guess what? They’re also taught, “We don’t share our dirty laundry with anybody else.” So in a way, sometimes our highly functioning young people are run through an addiction incubator that doesn’t prepare them for adulthood very well.
The other one thing I guess I’ll mention that’s increasing the epidemic is, we’ve had some new dangers show up in the past decade or two. And the most dangerous is now the opioid family. And it starts with the incredible prevalence of opioid based painkillers that every doctor and every dentist has been passing them out like candy for a decade. And a lot of people when they take, of Codeine or something like that, guess what? It doesn’t just make their hurt knee feel better. It changes how they view life. And some people say, “I like feeling that way.”
And so they go back to the doctor and they get a second, a third month of prescription and then the doctor found, he cuts them off. So they start buying them over the internet. And these days, the stigma of heroin that I grew up with … I’m 62 now, it’s not a stigma to young people anymore and it’s in the same family of opioids.
So a person in their teens or 20s or 30s who says, “I’m tired of paying for those opioid based pills. What’s an easier, faster, cheaper way to do that?” And the answer these days is heroin. And people are dying from heroin and from the substances that are included in heroin.
Ray: Well, I had a conversation not too long ago with a friend who in the medical field and he said, one of the things that happened in the medical field a few years ago that really brought about this opioid crisis was pain level became a vital sign. Like in emergency rooms or when you go in for visitation or examination that they would consider that like an equivalent vital sign with blood pressure or heart rate, those kinds of things. And so it, no pun intended, lowered the threshold that, “Hey, if you hit a certain pain, they never inquired, let’s get it dealt with.” And it just was a big factor.
Steve: That’s exactly right. And it was an unintended consequence. How many of you have been in a doctor’s office and they show you a little scale with smiley faces on it, right?
Ray: There you go.
Steve: And say, “Where are you from one to 10.” And they did that to try to make their process of prescribing medicines easier and more programmatic. But it trains people to say, “Well, shoot,” in fact young people know this. They know, “Oh, if I tell them I’m a five, they’re going to give me a prescription.”
Ray: So, okay, tell us then how Steps Ministries can come alongside, let’s say that I’m listening to the program. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a business owner, I’m a business leader, and maybe I’ve got some of these issues that I need to deal with myself and I’ve got to into my organization. Or maybe, I don’t know I have it in my organization, but I need to find out. How does Steps come alongside an organization or a leader and help them work through these things?
Steve: The first things we’re building out is a set of information that people anywhere can access to become more educated. So there’s articles you can read. So there’s a number of articles that talk about, if you’re a business leader or you’re a vice president of HR or you’re just a concerned business person, first acquaint yourself with the phenomena that addiction is common in every company.
But if you think that the people of your company are one of your most valued attributes, which I hope you do, then that will lead you to the conclusion that, “Wow, it makes sense for me to actively engage in their wellbeing,” because one is, that will not only make them more productive and affect positively the ROI of my company. But it’s also just the right thing to do, to look after the people who are within my care.
So one is to start educating yourself, especially for businesses. I’d say at about that point, give me a call or send me an email and I could just share some advice or thoughts about how do you start thinking about the problem and how do you move forward? And then some cases it might involve, it makes sense for you to have a speaker or a trainer come in for your leadership team or as a consultant or as a coach.
We’re also building what I call prevention as a service, which will be a series of courses you could offer to your employees digitally so that anybody anywhere could take them. And they can also take them in the anonymity of their own home rather than having to show up in public in a seminar.
Ray: So you’ve got the tools, you’ve got the resources. And by the way, how can we reach out to you? How can we get a hold of some of these tools and resources?
Steve: If you just remember lifeimprovementsteps.com, that will take you to our content portal. So you can see a lot of different examples of the podcast and the videos and the blog. While there, I’d urge you to look at the blog. There’s about 17 categories of information such as business and leadership, living more effectively, building resilience, effective parenting. So look through the blog.
On the bottom of that same page, you’ll see links to our three primary websites. I have a website for steps ministries overall, one for steps business wellness, and then one also for steps proactive parenting. So if you only remember one URL, it’s lifeimprovementsteps.com.
Ray: Okay, fantastic. So now that we understand a little bit about the background behind the problem, a little bit about how you can address it and some of the tools and resources. What risk factors, what liabilities am I potentially facing that I may not even be aware of in my company or in my business? And I’m listening to this saying, “Okay, maybe I do. Maybe I don’t have people with these issues,” chances are they do, right?
Steve: They do.
Ray: Chances are they do. But what’s at risk here? What are we talking about?
Steve: The invisible costs to it is a huge productivity hit. So that’s going on and it’s unseen and it’s again affecting your bottom line. But the risk can be exacerbated by, if they are your salespeople, then they’re the ones out there representing your company to your best clients. If they work in procurement, they’re representing your company to your suppliers. If they’re driving vehicles or operating machinery, they’re potentially liable.
But you also have to understand that anyone who is operating in an impaired state. And when I say impaired, someone who goes home after a hard day and slams five or six or seven drinks and they do that on a regular basis. Much of that alcohol may be out of their system by the time they show up to work, but they’re still impaired. Their thinking processes are not what they should be, as well, and being less productive.
Ray: So there’s real risks here. There’s real productivity issues, liability, potentially those things. And I think that’s important. So what advice and encouragement would you have for those who are listening and obviously they can go to your portal. What else should they do? What else should they consider?
Steve: One of the biggest things we’re trying to do is to help change the culture, which is based around stigma and shame. Shame is what someone feels when they’re doing something that they know they’re not supposed to. And in this world of addiction, shame is an invariable partner, whether it’s alcohol or drugs or pornography, or another activity, the more shame we feel, the more isolated we will become.
And again, we might go to work and be around a hundred people every day, but we will isolate a part of who we are from the rest of the world. And then that starts to eat away at them. So you have to be aware of that phenomena. One thing I would say is, if you’re in that place, and believe me, a significant fraction of the people listening to this are in that place. It’s okay. There are millions of people like you.
In fact, I would suggest you understand that we’re all addicted to something. There’s people around you who may be addicted to more politically correct things than you are, but one is, let go of that shame that is keeping you isolated. And if you only do one thing, talk to somebody. If it’s your spouse or a pastor or a therapist or a mentor or your coach or someone, talk to someone and that tends to open the door and start the healing process.
Ray: Isolation is the fertile ground for destruction, right?
Steve: Yes, it is.
Ray: Okay, very good. I don’t know how to ask this other than just, so what makes you an expert on this?
Steve: Multiple things. One is 30 years of drinking gave me a pretty good exposure to-
Ray: Okay, I remember that.
Steve: The other is … Again, I said by my wife was an alcoholic. My dad was an alcoholic. My son got into drugs and alcohol. So for several years, we were engaged in recovery in all of its forms. But when I wrote the book, I actually took five years to write the book because most of that was spent in research and in talking to world class experts in this field. I didn’t want to write something that had been written before.
And now I’m 10 years into the journey. I only founded the ministry, last year, year or a year and a half ago. But I’m 10 years into this. And so I spend all of my time, again, trying to see what the experts in these different fields are saying, synthesize and integrate that so it’s highly consumable.
And I’ll tell you a secret. I’m not making any of this up. I hope you get some value out of what Steps does. But it won’t be because Steve Ward had this incredibly creative new idea. It’ll be that some of the principles that are biblically based and based on principles of recovery that had been around for decades and that are accepted by psychologists around the world. I’m just trying to put those in a form that people can understand them and utilize them.
Ray: Yeah. And one thing that I find is interesting and if I misspeak here, correct me, I don’t see on the title or on the cover of the book and I don’t think I see in the table of contents a specific mention about addiction, a specific mention about these issues. This is more about a process of a journey for a better life. Could you speak to that? Why it doesn’t say that?
Steve: Yes, that is what led to the book. As I said, when I was in recovery, I thought, “Why don’t people just live this way?” You take addiction out of the conversation, people should just live this way. In the book there are, I don’t know, 15 chapters or so. There is one that talks about dealing with trials and addiction. So in other words, you’re right, addiction is half of one chapter in the book.
The other scenarios are how do you perform better at work? How do you perform better in your family? How do you manage your money well? As you go about your spiritual journey, as you deal with trials in life, as you develop a life plan, as you operate effectively day to day. So those are the scenarios that are explored in the book.
Ray: Very powerful. It’s called Steps, A Daily Journey to a Better Life. And where can they get this?
Steve: Just about anywhere. You can get it on Amazon or barnesandnoble.com. Also, on our website, you can order it. And again, send me an email while you’re there and let me know how it can help you, but you can also order it on lifeimprovementsteps.com.
Ray: Lifeimprovementsteps.com. Love it. Well, Steve, I want to do just a couple things and the remaining time we have. I want to talk a little bit more about the transition from a business and a life perspective from being a part of one of the world’s largest employers now to, you started this ministry and as you described in the opening line of our interview, a team of one. What’s that journey been like for you to go from this very large international firm that you spent, what? 38/40 years?
Ray: 38 years there, to now being on your own? What was that transition like from big to startup?
Steve: Yeah, it did have several variables. It was very large to very small. It was for-profit public company to a 501c3 nonprofit. And obviously a different genre from complicated multi-year technology solutions to training around life improvement. It has been an amazing journey.
What’s interesting is, the same way I’m trying to take content that’s out there and make it easily accessible to people, a lot of the things I learned in business, I use them in my nonprofit world. In other words, business people forget that things like project management and strategic planning and collaboration and leadership and teamwork, they forget how important those attributes are in the real world.
So in a nonprofit environment, there are differentiators, because a lot of people who start nonprofits are people that are inspiring because of their heart and their soul. And they come from a place where they are unbelievably passionate about a cause, but they may not know how to run an effective meeting or build a strategic plan. And so a lot of the things learned in business have been very valuable in the nonprofit world.
Ray: Does it ever feel lonely for you?
Steve: It is lonelier. Now, I’m blessed, in my situation, and that I’m talking to people every day or every week, but it always comes back to, it’s me. Managing a small group of contractors and volunteers, but it’s me. And in fact, I have another friend who a year ago went into the nonprofit world and will commiserate. It’s like you spend so much energy and passion developing this direction in your plan and there’s nobody to talk to about. There’s nobody to talk to because nobody else has spent that much time engaged that level of endeavor.
Ray: Yeah, you’re an entrepreneurial journey?
Ray: You’re doing it through a nonprofit, but you are starting something new that’s not been done the way you’re doing it before. And that takes courage and that takes prayer and that takes accountability and support and all those things. So we’ve learned about the portal at lifeimprovementsteps.com. We’ve learned that you do coaching for companies and leaders. Where do you see this going? Let’s just wave the proverbial magic wand and say, five years from now, Lord willing, what’s this ministry look like?
Steve: That’s a good question. This is an area, and I’ve worked with my board of directors on this, that at least I was conscious coming into starting a nonprofit that I was bringing many of my addictions with me. And so by that man, I stopped drinking alcohol 16 years ago, but a year and a half ago, I was still addicted to control.
In other words, I had been trained for 38 years to build a plan and execute that plan, which meant I’m going to control all the variables between me and that plan and all the people, by the way. So in a nonprofit world especially-
Ray: How’s that working out for you?
Steve: …in a ministry, it’s been a very deliberate, I’m surrendering outcomes. So I do have a strategic plan, but I don’t worry about the outcomes. My job is to build the processes and the relationships and the capability and the content to help as many people as God wants me to help.
Ray: That’s a big change.
Steve: Yeah, it’s a big change.
Ray: So do you see the organization national in scope, training and certifying other leaders to take these tools and resources into companies and families and organizations or conferences? What do you see as the output?
Steve: Organizationally, I expected it will remain relatively small, but in terms of impact, I think it’ll be nationwide and because the things we’re exploring are things that are highly leveraged. In other words, to build a curriculum that a company could use and then to make it available digitally so that any company could access it. To build a curriculum so that group leaders or our coaches can … So everything I’m trying to do is meant to be very scalable. So I can build it once and then make it available to anybody anywhere.
Ray: Oh, that’s fantastic. Well, Steve, in the few moments that we have remaining, what have we not talked about today that you want to make sure that we share with our audience that is really important to you and you believe will be important to them?
Steve: I’m at risk of being redundant. If I’m closing with some commentary, again, I want people to hear that whether it’s you or someone close to you, it’s okay if you have something going on in your life. But rather than isolate and just continue to spiral downward, start to pay attention to it and start to take small positive steps.
One is by talking to at least one other person. But the other is to just become aware that the negative impact of what you’re doing is probably more than you think. You’re having an effect on your wife and your kids and your coworkers and also on your relationship with God.
And one of the things that that changed my life was, even though I was a highly functioning at work, I thought, “So is that to be my legacy? Is my legacy to be that I was pretty darn good at what I did at work, but that I was really operating at half speed and that I wasn’t doing what I was designed to do. And that I sacrificed the rest of life, the rest of the enjoyment in the satisfaction and the productivity of life so that I can have a pretty good buzz.” And that was a scary thought.
Ray: That’s a very scary thought. And so I guess one other question I would like to ask is, as a word of encouragement, let’s say somebody’s listening to this conversation and their journey has birthed inside of them a passion or an issue or a cause. And maybe they either started and they’ve now got a very successful business or they’re part of a big corporation and their security has set in and they see the finish line and it doesn’t look all that difficult to get there.
Maybe there’s somebody listening that’s in that place, and yet God’s pricking their heart to do something that may mean starting all over. It’s what you did. So what advice or encouragement would you have for them as we wind down today?
Steve: It’s paying attention to those feelings. We have an all powerful God who’s in control of all things and who designs us in a special way and gives us a calling so that the way that we are designed will help us serve the purpose he has for us.
So if over a period of time your mind keeps wandering to something you’re passionate about, whether it be a cause or a type of endeavor, and if when you think about that, it gives you a sense of excitement and purpose and significance, I’d pay attention to that and start taking steps. Start exploring that area. Start talking to people who are in that area, and allow yourself to be led forward.
And understand that if you do decide to take a risk, for example, to step away from the corporate world and start a nonprofit or whatever, that’s not a risk. It’s a lot riskier for you to keep doing something you’re not supposed to be doing than for you to follow your calling.
Steve: The safest place you can be is when you’re in your area of God’s calling. Even if that seems like you’re taking a big risk-
Ray: It feels very scary, you’re going to fall. I want to thank you, Steve, for not only your time here today at Bottom Line Faith, but the obedience that you’re following and God’s calling on your life and with Steps Ministries. And I just really want to encourage our audience.
You gave us a great word there at the end is, don’t ignore. Don’t ignore it. If this is something that’s resonating with you, take the steps, reach out to Steve, reach out to somebody close to have that first conversation. You said that, three or four times is, have the first conversation because that breaks the cycle. And so Steve, just thank you for being a part of the program here today.
Steve: Right. I just appreciate what you and Truth at Work do.
Ray: Thank you.
Steve: You’re a blessing. You are impacting more people than you ever know. So I want to encourage you in what you do. I’ve seen how the round tables work. I’m in one, so you’re having a big impact. And thank you for having me.
Ray: Well, thank you. Just trying to be obedient that like we just saying to what God’s called us. And I came out of that way too, out of something big and it’s something small and 20 years ago we were a startup. So I get this very, very clear. Well folks, that’s what we’re about here at Bottom Line Faith, is bringing you conversations like this to help you navigate business and life.
And as a Christ follower in leadership and in business, there are people around you who are broken, who are hurting. And we just got to take the time to open our eyes. We just got to take that step and say, “Hey, is there something I can do to help?” Take a risk as Steve has talked about today, because the risk is much greater when we don’t take the risk.
And so I hope you’ve been encouraged today. Check out Steve and his website. Once again, that’s lifeimprovementsteps.com, if any of this has resonated with you today. Thank you for participating. Thank you for week after week, month after month, tuning into the program here. God’s doing great things at Bottom Line Faith. So until next time, Ray Hilbert, here at Bottom Line Faith, encouraging you to live out your faith in the marketplace. See you soon.