2:20– About Cameron Management
8:12– A word of encouragement
10:55– As an owner, how do you process having to let someone go?
13:45– whats the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make in business? What role did your Christian faith make in that decision?
16:56– How did you come to faith in Christ?
19:57– What are a couple of best practices or principles you’ve continued to practice that are rooted in your Christian faith?
26:40– What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? And how does it continue to impact you today?
29:53– What advice would you give to the 20-year-old you?
34:24– The 4:23 Question
Dougal A. Cameron is President of Cameron Management. Dougal built a firm that owns, finances, leases, and manages all of its office buildings in an integrated fashion. He enjoys mentoring young entrepreneurs and encouraging others through service in non-profit and Christian ministry organizations.
Dougal has a BA in accounting from Texas Tech University and an MBA from Harvard University. He began his career as an accountant with Arthur Young & Company (now, Ernst & Young). He was an asset and project manager with Gerald D. Hines from 1985 to 1991, where he was responsible for Central Business District Class A assets. From 1991 to 1994, Dougal was an owner and principal of a local money management firm. He purchased his first building in 1995 when he formed Cameron Management.
Since then, Cameron Management has owned and managed buildings in Houston and San Antonio in both single ownerships and joint venture partnerships. They are now the proud owner of Esperson in Downtown Houston. Cameron Management’s Vision is to honor God and serve people; Its Mission is to be the standard of excellence in serving its tenants with rigor; its Values are based on integrity, teamwork, and freedom. Cameron Management is 100% owned by its employees.
Ray: Well, hello everyone, this is Ray Hilbert and welcome back to another episode of Bottom Line Faith. I am really excited because our guest today has come to us, we’re actually in our home studios in Indianapolis, Indiana, but he has flown in just to meet with us from the Houston, Texas area. Folks, would you just join me in welcoming Dougal Cameron, who is the president of Cameron Management. Dougal, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Dougal: I’m glad to be here.
Ray: You’re a busy man. We’re going to learn more about you and how God is using you in your business and so forth. But you made a special trip to come talk with us today at Bottom Line Faith. You know, we could have done this over the phone, and we do a lot of our interviews over the phone and that’s great. But you really felt compelled to be here so you and I could be eyeball to eyeball here in the studio. What compelled you to be on the program?
Dougal: In the last couple of years, I have had a lot of people ask me to tell my story. And so we actually have on our website now Cameron Management, a video story called Higher Ground which tells a part of my story. And when I started listening to your podcasts, I realized you’re telling exactly the kind of story that I’d like to be able to say to somebody. Okay, I can’t tell you the whole thing, but here. And it’s just especially in the last couple of years I’ve had opportunities in prison, in Africa, in all kinds of settings where somebody asked me a question, and I wind up kind of telling my story and, and it, it blesses them. So I thought it was a good thing to do.
Ray: Well, thank you so much. And we are so grateful. We’re going to get into your testimony. We’re going to get into your faith journey and those sorts of things. But we would be remiss if we didn’t take a few moments; help our audience understand more about your company. You started in 1995. Help us understand exactly what you, what you all do there at Cameron Management.
Dougal: Well, Cameron Management was started after I had been with a large company, really worldwide real estate company called Heinz, Gerald Heinz, and I learned the business there, and then I was in the money management business for three years. And I always knew; my mother’s an entrepreneur. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but frankly, people kept paying me too much money to do what I did. Really what happened is I got fired, and so I got fired, and I sort of spent a few months thinking about what to do. And ultimately I could tell miraculous story after miraculous story. But Cameron Management was started. And what we do is take buildings that are old and tired, and nobody else wants. It really helps if nobody else wants them. It doesn’t always work now, but you know, we give them tender loving care. We do the kinds of things we’re really, really good at doing. Taking old buildings, not doing too much, not doing too little. And then bottom line, taking care of our customers, our tenants. And once we get a tenant, it’s very unusual for us to lose a tenant. They become somebody, especially if they’ve experienced a bad landlord, that somebody we’ll have for life because we understand that’s who pays the payroll.
Ray: Okay. As I was listening to that part of the story, I just want to kind of go back to that time to when you were fired. I don’t know if, at the time, it felt like a blessing.
Dougal: It did not.
Ray: Walk us through that though. Before you do that, I’m reminded in Genesis right where there’s the passage where like what, what the devil meant for evil, God surely turned for good. So walk us through this dark time. You’re fired; just help us understand what that was like.
Dougal: Well I was awarded my CPA, and I’m a CFA; I’m a CIC; I got all kinds of things that I’m not sure whether I can say I am because I haven’t kept up with the, you know, continuing education. But I was a part owner of a money management firm, and it was a really fun job. You got to pick stocks and bonds, and I was very good at it, and I just had a pretty big character difference with the head guy there and ultimately got fired. I got fired in a way that well, frankly, he would tell people Dougal’s a great guy, very honest, but I just don’t know whether he has fire in his belly for business. And, you know, in business that’s kind of the kiss of death. So I went for six, nine months trying to do other stuff.
Actually, what happened was, I told my wife, we had four young kids. I told my wife, you know, I don’t exactly know what Plan B is. It may be, you know, assistant manager at the Jack in the Box or whatever, but we have a chance to have a great vacation. Let’s do it. So we went on a 6,711-mile car trip from here to, from Houston to Calgary and back; 29 days. We mooched off of friends and relatives across America and Canada. Our kids still talk about that trip. And when I got back, I really was looking at Plan B. and the day after I got back as when I found out about our first building, which is what I really wanted to do. Again, I could go through; this was 1995 in Houston. Nobody wanted office buildings and especially an office building that had problems; tenant was going to move out; it was on a land lease. There’s all these kind of negatives. Ultimately we bought the building for less than we had in our house and then it was just a very, very wonderful experience and one of the great experiences during that nine months is I couldn’t get, I called on 72 different groups and individuals. I had a lot of contacts because I’d been in the money management business, but I think most of them thought I was just crazy. Real estate? Houston? Office buildings that have asbestos maybe, and tenants moving out? Are you crazy? And so nobody invested. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me because I had to invest 100% myself.
Now, God intervened in many ways, not the least of which is that one year later the market turned around, which I had in fact, I would tell investors over and over again, I don’t know when the market will turn around. Yes, it’s been down for 13 years. It might be down for another five years, but if you believe I can lease space, this is a good deal. But the market turned around, and I would say I was still hurting; I would say this still a year later, and I was still smarting from being fired. And I had a hard time thinking nice thoughts about the guy who fired me. And I was trying, I really was. I really was trying to say, okay, love your enemies, that kind of thing. And then it’s nice when things work out. Because the next time I saw him, I was able without rancor, maybe with a little bit of, it’s kind of cool that things have worked out kind of that kind of thing. Yeah, but really without rancor to be able to say to him, thank you so much. But it is true. What he meant for evil, the Lord turned it into good.
Ray: And so I’d love to just maybe park here just for a moment. Because you know, here at Bottom Line Faith we are really trying to encourage and inspire Christ-followers who are in business and in leadership and in the marketplace. And so maybe there’s something going on right now. Maybe a deal isn’t happening the way they had hoped and even prayed that it would turn out or maybe a partnership’s kind of going sour, south or who knows what they’re going through. But somebody’s listening to the program right now. And you just walked through what was not a fun thing, but God turned into an amazing thing. What encouragement would you have for that person who’s listening right now, wondering what good is going to come of this?
Dougal: The Bible says over and over again, do not grow weary and lose heart. That is a common refrain, which must mean we human beings grow weary and lose heart. That happens to us. And so you’ve got to hang in there. You got to have sources of encouragement. You got to be in a church, you got to have other men around you who are saying, hang in there, but you also got to be able to acknowledge this doesn’t feel good. I don’t like this. I remember many sleepless nights. I remember many times, getting up at three in the morning and going for a run. All those kind of things happened to me, but I did have a sense that God was in charge. I did have a sense he was doing something. I just don’t know what it is. I sure am looking forward to looking back on it. Now it doesn’t always work out that way. I’ve got a wonderful friend right now, and just my age and he just took bankruptcy, and it’s hard at you know, 50, 60, 70, take bankruptcy and think, how am I going to recover from this? But my experience over and over and over again is God is faithful. Hang in there, and when you finally do get to the other end of it, it is so much fun telling the stories, but you got to get there.
Ray: And it’s not easy to see in the moment how this might be working for good.
Dougal: No. Not at all, but it always does. All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, so keep loving God; keep staying in the saddle so you’re called according to His purpose. Don’t mess that part up and it will work out, especially if you let him have his way with your character, which may be what he’s working on. You never know. I mean, God refined me a lot. He made me a much better husband, much better father, much better, really much better business person. In fact, I will say most of the people who’ve worked for me will regularly say, you know, I’m the best boss ever worked for, but it’s partially because I experienced a bad boss. And I experienced what that was like, I’m never doing that again. Now, that also means it takes me a long time to hire, and I’m quick to fire. If I make a mistake, and a couple of months into it, I say, oh, this didn’t work out. I’m sorry. I’m going to work for a transition. But fire quickly, hire slowly. That’s a very important concept.
Ray: I love that you’re really talking about that too. Because so often as Christ-followers, you know, business owners, CEOs, whatever the case may be, we take on, I call it kind of a messianic complex. It’s like, well, if, if they’re not here, how will God provide for them? If I terminate this person, how will they feed their family? How do you process that as a owner and an entrepreneur when it’s time to let someone go? Do you feel some of those same thoughts or pressures or what’s that like for you?
Dougal: I do. But I have learned the hard way that I can really hurt a person by not firing them when they need to be fired. And I tried to do it as directly as possible. I try to give them feedback, I try to give them time, try to give them a runway, and sometimes, in a couple of instances, it’s just been like we had a downturn in 2009 and I had a fellow working for me who I just loved. And I said I don’t know whether, I’m going to try, but I don’t know whether four months from now I’m going to have a place for you, and I’m just letting you know and just think about that. Within four months, he had a job; he has a wonderful position, now he looks back on that and thanks me. And I’m glad I didn’t sort of say well, I’ll just hope everything works out and then all of a sudden you know, I’ve run out of money, and I can’t take care of them.
So it just it feels bad to fire people, and you want to do it the right way but you sometimes just have to do it. And giving people feedback is so important too. I’ve actually, actually have a wonderful person who works for me right now. And I told him if he didn’t quit working so hard, I was going to fire him. He wouldn’t take time off. And I said, you can work 6 days a week and work 10 hours a day, but you have got to take a day of rest. And he had all the reasons why that didn’t make sense. And I said, well, I’m going to fire you. And then you’ll just have to find somebody else that will take advantage of the fact that you’ll work yourself to death. And he started doing that. And he came back about three months later and he said, wow, this has made all the difference in my life. And I am working so much more productively. And I said, well, frankly, I knew that. I knew you would. Really, I got more work out of him. Once he started working, and he does work hard. He works 6 days a week, 10 hours a day. He’s a wonderful performer and I never want to lose him. But I was getting ready to lose him because he was just going to kill himself.
Ray: No doubt, and it wasn’t sustainable.
Dougal: It wasn’t sustainable.
Ray: Well Cameron, as we’re learning more about you and the company, what’s the best way that we could learn even more?
Dougal: Go to our website, cameronmanagement.com, and not only will you see something about who we are, background, people, but you’ll see a video that we have called Higher Ground which tells the story of how we got to where we are and why we do what we do.
Ray: That’s cameronmanagement.com. Dougal, if it would be alright with you, what I’d love to do is I’d love to talk a little bit about your faith in business. We’ve learned a little bit about kind of how you got into, you know, the line of work that your company is in, and it came out of being fired and those sorts of things. But let’s talk about your faith in business. As you look back over the course of your career, what’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make in business? And specifically, what role did your Christian faith play in that decision?
Dougal: The hardest decision I have ever had to make. Let me think about that. I’d like to say that it was getting fired and starting Cameron Management because it was scary, but I kind of didn’t have a choice. So in a way, I’d like to say I was making a decision; I really wasn’t making a decision. I will say that when it finally did come to the opportunity to buy this building, and I just cannot tell you how much risk it seemed like. In fact, the only reason I could do it is my wife’s an architect. We were buying a five-story building, and I said to my wife, honey, if things don’t work out, we will not be able to sell this building. It’s not liquid. But we will be able to sell our house, so you need to come look and see if we can live in the top story of this building. And she came, and she looked, and I don’t think I put pressure on her; I think she would say she didn’t feel pressured. And she said, no, this will work. Now, I want it to look like this. And I said, oh, definitely, I can build it out really nice. But that was our escape valve. Because I knew if you gave me five years, I could make it work. But it was still scary. And, and, and she did say, but please work hard for us not to do that. And I said, trust me. I am going to be working hard. And so I look back on it now. Maybe that was hard. Maybe it wasn’t. I was having so much fun. I was working 6 days a week, probably 12 hours a day. I was the janitor; I was the security guard; I was everything. But it was fun. And with the market turning around, it was that much more fun because you had the wind at your back.
Ray: And what role did your faith play in that process and in that story?
Dougal: Well, I was working very hard for the money management firm. I now had nine months off as a fired guy, and I’d gotten used to spending a lot of time at home. And I enjoyed that a lot. I enjoy being a father and I’m very talented at being a father. I’ve had to learn to be a talented husband. And I think I’m pretty good at that now. But, but being a father was kind of natural to me. It was hard for me to transition to now having to work hard again and then didn’t turn it off. Because then I started having a lot of fun because I was doing something that I was really good at, and I was very successful at, and I had to start saying, okay, now I have to put barriers around work, which I’d never had to do before. I’d done work; I was good; I knew when to start and stop. But it wasn’t; I wasn’t so passionate about it that I could spend 7 days a week, 15 hours a day.
Ray: Absolutely. So you know, one thing I didn’t catch, and it’s my fault because I failed to ask it. Did you grow up in a Christian home or kind of how did you come to faith in Christ because it sounded like your faith was a huge part of the early days, particularly the business? So what was that like?
Dougal: Well, I realized looking back now, the biggest catastrophe in my life happened when I was eight years old. My dad came back from Vietnam, career Marine Corps officer. We watched every night to see who was killed in the area of Vietnam he was in, and he came back and explained our family that he was getting divorced, and, and ultimately my mom and he did get divorced. I realize now as a teenager; I had what they would call in a men’s fraternity, a father wound. A huge father wound. I kind of addressed that by becoming a really, really good guy. So I was a Boy Scout, big time. I was trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
Ray: It’s almost like you have that memorized.
Dougal: Oh, man. I know it. And in fact, when I, 16,17, I started saying what was true, I was not a believer. Our family kind of would go to church every now and then. And I ran into a guy who met with me. And I still remember saying to him, as he explained the gospel, explained I was a sinner in need of a Savior. And I really said something like this to him. Well, no, I’m not a sinner. I thought I was being recruited for the Christian team, which made sense to me because I was such a good guy. And this guy truly spent three months explaining to me, no, no, you’re a sinner, and I really did not believe him for month after month. And finally, fortunately, the Holy Spirit convinced me, oh, yeah, you are a sinner. And so I trusted Christ at 17. The guy who led me the Lord discipled me. He’s a guy that in fact, the only thing I can do, he’s in his 80s now, to bless him is bring him to lunch with somebody I brought to Christ.
Better yet, somebody I brought to Christ who’s brought somebody to Christ. This one man probably has 10,000 children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren in the Lord, because he not only brings somebody to Christ but he disciples them to the point of being a disciple maker. So by God’s grace, at 18 when I went off to college I had in my mind, not only am I a believer but being a believer is to be a disciple maker. The one thing I didn’t have, didn’t really know much about at all, I didn’t, I had not read the Bible thoroughly. And so I went to college thinking I’m going to read the Bible thoroughly, got involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators, some other groups. And so college for me was all about taking my faith in Christ and then having Jesus be Lord, so it was a wonderful time that for some people is a negative, was a real, real positive for me.
Ray: Yeah, absolutely. So now your business, 23 years in, what would be maybe a couple of best practices or principles that you have continued to practice that are rooted in your Christian faith? What would be a couple of biblical principles that are guiding you? And I’m looking at, for example, you gave me a copy of your vision and your mission and your values for the company at Cameron Management. Well, give us a synopsis. What are these values all about? How does it guide your process?
Dougal: Well, that card is meant for everybody at Cameron Management. We have 25 employees. All of the 25 employees are owners of Cameron Management, and I tell people look at that card when you know what to do. The first thing that I tell people that is seminal to working at Cameron Management is, to tell the truth. It is okay to make mistakes. Don’t make the same mistake five times, okay, we might have a problem with that, but it is okay to make mistakes. I have found that people usually lie in business because they made a mistake. I’m the Chief Executive Officer, but I’m also the Chief “I’m Sorry” Officer, and when something goes wrong, I say, No. Let me go talk to them. And it’s very powerful to go to a tenant and say we messed up, and I’m the Chief Executive Officer, I’m telling you right now, I’ll spend whatever time and money is needed to fix it. What can I do for you? And it also is amazing how many times somebody says; you just did it. You said I’m sorry. That’s all I needed.
Ray: Hang on just a second. I want to interrupt you on that point. You said that “I am the Chief “I Am Sorry” Officer. I have to admit I’ve never heard that before. So I’ve got to believe that that’s got an amazing impact on your culture. Does that help create a certain type of spirit or environment of grace and forgiveness? How does that impact the company by you being the Chief “I Am Sorry” Officer?
Dougal: Well, I say regularly, the customer is almost always right. Because there are times when you have a crazy customer, and there’s just not a good fit. I’m also the Chief “You’re Fired As A Customer” Officer. Nobody gets to fire a customer except for me. That rarely happens. But I want my people to know that not only can they say I’m sorry, but if it really needs to be taken up a level, I’m very good at saying I’m sorry. That it wasn’t just that one person that failed; it was Cameron Management that failed. How can we put it right? And I want them to do that too. Regularly, people in Cameron Management. If something is wrong, they know they are empowered to go say to the person, we messed up. Not let’s hide it, well, they might not know. And sometimes, in fact, several times tenants have told us you came and said I’m sorry, and we didn’t even know you’d done anything. And I want that culture because that’s the culture of not telling a lie. We don’t cover things over when we mess up. We just take responsibility for it. And it not only comes from the top but I’ve done enough now that everybody in our company has that as a part of our culture, it is powerful to just use normal, real normal Christian principles like telling the truth, like saying I’m sorry.
And then I do things in our company where when we’re having difficulties or when we’re looking for an opportunity, I’ll say, look, we’re going to ask God to bless us. We want God to bless us. But God does not bless us for no reason. He blesses us to be a blessing, and so we ought to be finding out how we can be a blessing, and so when Hurricane Harvey happened, we were high and dry in our building, and so I said to our people, find out ways to be a blessing, and we as a building, as a company were able to volunteer, give food to the policemen, make our building available to people who are in you know, difficult straits, that sort of thing. So I tell people, our vision is to honor God and serve people. And you don’t have to be a Christian to work for our company. But you have to understand that the CEO, the founder of our company, is an evangelical Christian who cares about honoring God. And if that doesn’t really makes sense for you, this isn’t going to be a great place.
And I would say the last thing that I tell people, especially the people work closely for me, is part of the value I get from Cameron Management is I do have some freedom to do some stuff like this, and that freedom is really important to me and I right now, I work hard. I work about a 60 hour week, but I have flexibility. I work 20 hours on Cameron Management, 20 hours on entrepreneurial stuff, and 20 hours on ministry related stuff. I spend about 20 days a year in prison with a group called Prison Entrepreneurship Program, which I just love because the guys in prison want what I have to sell, which is new life in Christ and the American dream, and entrepreneurialism effectively. And I tell the same thing for other people in our company. Freedom is important. Cameron Management ought to be a place that gives you freedom to do what you’re passionate about. Obviously, it’s within the constraints of doing business that makes money.
Ray: That is so well put. Don’t lie; mistakes are okay. And I don’t think I’ve ever personally really thought of it the way you described this and I think that’s spot on. Where did such clarity for that come from? How did, how did you get to that point of clarity around the whole aspect of that?
Dougal: I think I saw within myself really the reason I lied is because I made mistakes and I didn’t want people to know I made a mistake or I wanted to cover it up or I wanted people to think I didn’t have problems and it is a powerful thing to be able to tell people. oh, no. Let me tell you some mistakes I’ve made. I made enough of them that I can now give you some advice. Don’t make this mistake. Here’s, I’ve got a list of about 57 rookie mistakes that I tell people, these are easy ones to avoid. Because you’re gonna make mistakes anyway. Don’t make the rookie ones. Don’t make the ones I can warn you about.
Ray: Right. I love it. That’s the kind of the way I’ve tried to raise my kids too is we’ve said often the difference between a smart person in a wise person, right? A smart person learns from their own mistakes, but a wise person learns from someone else’s. So that’s great stuff. So why don’t we do this? Let’s talk a little bit about kind of like, call this the advice section of the conversation. What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you and how does it continue to impact you today?
Dougal: Best advice anybody’s ever given me is to put God first, your wife second, your children third, and everything else after that. And that advice, I was surprised because that advice was given to me by the guy who led me the Lord. I had that in my mind as I was going through school. I didn’t have a wife and children, so I could put school second and, and because he helped me understand that, hey, that’s your calling. Right now, you’re in school. Your calling is to do really, really well in school; doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to still put God first. And that advice, it was surprising to me how many people don’t get that advice. I was at a conference the other day; entrepreneurs from all over the world. It was a wonderful conference. In fact, y’all should know about Praxis. If you don’t know about it, great group of people. And I was sitting with an Indian guy from the country of India, and a believer, and he said something to me about how passionate he was about being an entrepreneur, and I said, I hear you, but tell me about your wife and your children. He told me about it. And there was enough in there that I said I hear you. But God has not called you to be an entrepreneur first. God’s called you to him, your wife, your children. And I started talking, and I went on for, I would say, three minutes and it looked like the guy’s eyes were glazing over. I thought oh, I’ve talked too much.
So I said, I’m sorry, I probably talked too much. And then there’s this hesitation, kind of silence. He says, Oh, no, this is the most important thing I’ve heard at this whole conference. And I just thought there are people out there with ears to hear, and you got to be careful that you don’t say it to people who really don’t want to hear what you have to say. But he wanted to, and he asked me more questions, and he said, I can’t believe it, but I have gone God first. I got that right. But I have put my entrepreneurial ambitions second. I said that will never work for you. Trust me. And he truly said at the end, he kept coming up, and he said that’s the most important thing I’ve ever heard. I cannot wait to go back and tell my wife that I have messed up. And so I’m pretty careful to say that, and that’s meant a lot to me. My kids know that. My kids have heard that a lot, and especially my boys know their wife is second and very important, not wife and children. Wife is second; children are third.
Ray: Well, Dougal would you just help us if someone’s listening to this conversation that they’d like to reach you; they’d like to learn more about your company what’s the best way for them to do that?
Dougal: Go online and look at cameronmanagement.com and we have some videos there. In fact, some new videos called Higher Ground that really tells the story of who we are and why we do what we do.
Ray: So that was cameronmanagement.com.
Ray: Okay, so still in this vein of advice. Okay, if you had a chance to go back and give advice to the 20-year-old Dougal Cameron, what advice would you give to the 20-year-old you?
Dougal: I have thought about that. And I’ve even turned that over in my brain. And I really think this sounds so arrogant that I want to be careful about it. But I think because of this guy who led me the Lord and taught me disciple-making is central, I made a lot of good decisions at 18, 19, 20, and I don’t think I would change anything. One of the things that happened to me is in college, I started thinking, what does the Lord want me to do and ultimately I actually went back to Houston, took a job, it was a great job, turned out to be a wonderful job, but I mostly did it because my brother who was then 13, 14, no father at home, I felt called to make sure and be there and he and I had a Friday night boys bible study football game. And it was wonderful. And I am just now hearing back, well, guy came to me the other day who was in that Bible study and now pastors a 5,000 person church. And he said that was the first time he got a vision for disciple-making. And that was like a real wow.
Ray: You had no idea what God was doing.
Dougal: No, God was doing something. And so again, now I go back to the guy who led me the Lord, I think, did such a good job of visioneering the idea that it’s not just Jesus as Savior, it’s Jesus as Savior who you voluntarily make your Lord. And so I am very grateful that that happened, and I don’t think I would change anything.
Ray: Yeah, and you have this kind of word picture, I think, that you’ve used about what we’re saved from and then what we’re saved into. Would you just cover that real quickly?
Dougal: Well, I think it’s really important to realize that everybody who doesn’t have Christ is a slave to Satan, sin, and self. When you come to Christ, the whole idea of Jesus dying for us on the cross is to set us free from Satan. Now what happens is we carry sin and self along with us, so even though you’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, to the kingdom of his beloved Son, you now have a choice to make. What are you gonna do with your freedom? And unfortunately, a lot of people sometimes, wow, I got this freedom, and I can do anything I want to. Well, you can, but the best thing you can do with your freedom is to be a bond-slave to Jesus. You don’t want to be a bond-slave to any human being. There’s nobody that you want to be a bond-slave to, but you do want to be a bond-slave to Jesus. And of course, that’s exactly what Scripture says; You are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared beforehand for you to do. So all you’re really doing is saying, God, you want me to be a masterpiece. I’m in. And again, I am so grateful that the guy who led me to the Lord and Intervarsity and Navigators and some other groups visioneered that for me, and that was just in my brain from really, I think probably the time I was 18 on.
Ray: Well, you know, I’ve heard at least five times, I’ve been kind of clicking this off in my mind as I’ve been having this conversation with you, at least five times, you have talked about the importance of the individual who invested in you and discipled you. And I think that’s a lost thing in our culture even in the church today. You know, we, we, we’re excited about, you know, having seeker-friendly environments and winning souls and winning people to Christ, but you have just really reinforced the importance that discipleship is where the real transformation occurs. Is that correct?
Dougal: Yes. That is exactly right.
Ray: Yeah. And it’s continuing to play that role in your life. And now you’re replicating that in with others. Well, Dougal, I’ve got one more question for you, and I call it my 4:23 question, and it’s along the lines of advice. But Solomon writes this, he says that “Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows all of life,” right? So this is like a really important thing that Solomon is saying, look, above all else, do this one thing. Guard your heart. So what I’d like you to do is fill in the blank. I’d like you to pass along this, you know, this one piece of advice for our audience. If you could just answer the question, above all else…
Dougal: Above all else, guard your heart, and I like one way of saying that is for it is the wellspring of life I love that part too. I would say this for anybody that is listening, entrepreneur, whatever area of life you’re in. You have got to be not just a part but an integral part of a church. You got to have elders. You got to have a pastor. I’m dealing with some people right now. My wife and I do marriage counseling with folks, and it’s so painful when you have a guy who, well, a guy I’m dealing with right now who kind of has a like affair with Jesus, but he doesn’t have a love affair with Jesus. And part of the reason he got to that is because he goes to a big church, but he’s not really in fellowship. And I think it is absolutely essential.
And other great thing that happened to me is I became a believer in the context of a church that had elders and pastors and deacons. And it was understood that I was under their authority. And right now, I have three elders in my little church, and if my kids or my wife were having problems with me, something was going on., and they said, ooh, Dad’s not going around the right way, in a heartbeat, they would call one of these elders and those guys know when it’s time to put their arm around my shoulder or time to kick me in the rear end. And I am so glad, and frankly, I’d be scared to do something really bad because I do not want these guys kicking me in there. And I don’t want to be ashamed. And it helps. And it is powerful. And so instead of me going off on a deep end that took me six months to get there, I might go off on a deep end for six hours, but I get pulled back very quickly. So get involved in a church where people know your name, where it could be a big church, but you better have a growth group, involved in something where people know your name, and people have said, I’ll hold you accountable and you can begin that process of holding other people accountable.
Ray: That is just absolutely fantastic, fantastic advice. Dougal, thank you for being our guest today on Bottom Line Faith.
Dougal: Thank you for having me.
Ray: This has been wonderful. Well, folks, we trust and pray that you have been encouraged by the conversation today that we’ve had with Dougal here at Bottom Line Faith. If you’re interested in having accountability, he talked about that just a moment ago, and community, if you’re a business leader, one great way to learn about that is by checking out our website at truthatwork.org. Click on the tab there and learn about our roundtables. We have groups all across the country of Christ followers who are running and leading companies and organizations, helping them hold each other accountable to build businesses and organizations to God’s glory. Also, we would love it if you would take a moment and give us a review on the conversation that we’ve had today with Dougal. That’s the best thing you could do to help this program succeed. We already reach thousands of listeners each month, and that will help us reach even more. So until next time, I am your host Ray Hilbert, here at Bottom Line Faith, where I’d like to encourage you to faithfully serve the Lord each and every day in the marketplace. God bless, and we’ll see you next time.