John Busacker joins us to talk about how to get more done, the intent of marketing, and the importance of Sabbath in our life.

John Busacker is a writer, speaker and entrepreneur. He is the Founder of Life-Worth, a personal leadership development firm, and a member of the Duke Corporate Education Global Educator Network.

He has delivered keynotes and worked with leaders on six continents, covering such issues as personal engagement, authentic leadership, and holistic generosity. John’s passion for leadership extends globally, supporting the development needs of leaders with a variety of nonprofits and faith-based organizations in the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa.

“No amount of success in business will make up for you failing at home.”
“If we’re going to guard our heart, it’s not a solitary effort.”

Key Takeaways:
1. There’s a leadership component for every flourishing business.
2. What are you really afraid of?
3. What’s the other side for you?
4. What do you believe you will find if you rest?
5. Are you spending time with nutritious or toxic people?

Books by John Busacker

Full transcript:

Ray: Well, hello, everyone. This is Ray Hilbert. I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith and we are so excited that you’ve joined us for another episode of the program where we talk about the intersection of life, and faith, and business and leadership. We get the opportunity here to travel the country north to south, east to west and talk with some of the most amazing Christ followers in business and leadership in the marketplace. We hear their stories, we hear their successes, and the principles and values that drive them on a daily basis.

I am in beautiful Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota, and we are going to interview someone I know you’re going to love. He’s becoming a dear friend of mine, John Busacker, the founder of Life-Worth, LLC. He is a personal leadership development coach and consultant and speaker and he has worked with leaders on six continents. John, welcome to bottom line faith.

John: Thanks Ray and welcome to the Twin Cities. We have provided you with a perfect day here today.

Ray: It’s incredible. As we’re recording this, it’s a beautiful summer day, mid 80s, virtually no humidity. We’re going to go catch a ball game tonight.

John: We are. I was going to tell you that it’s like this every day here in the Twin Cities but you know better, coming from Indianapolis, but it’s gorgeous today.

Ray: Well, Truth At Work is the host ministry here at Bottom Line Faith and so we want to tell the truth. It’s like San Diego out there today.

John: Not just at work, but everywhere. Right?

Ray: That’s right. Well, John, why don’t you take just a moment as we get started here and give our audience a chance to get to know you a little bit. Tell us about your background, where you grew up, a little bit about your faith foundation, that sort of things.

John: Well, I’m a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My wife and I both grew up in Milwaukee. We were high school sweethearts, and we just celebrated this past weekend, our 40th anniversary.

Ray: Oh, congratulations.

John: Thank you. The work that I’m doing today is actually my third career. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and education. I was a high school counselor and educator for a number of years and then went into financial services, where I was both a financial advisor and then a practice leader for a total of 14 years. Then the last 25 years, I’ve been in this area of leadership developments first for the first 20 years as partner and then president of a consulting firm here in the Twin Cities. Then the last five years, I’ve had my own leadership practice really focused on the personal side of leadership, who you are and how you carry yourself with character and integrity so that people might actually want to follow you.

Ray: Fantastic. Well help me understand where did this passion for leadership come from, and particularly the desire to help others develop as leaders. Where did all that come from?

John: I’ve been blessed over the years in different stages of my life, to have good mentors, to be around and to learn from good leaders. I’ve worked at times with a person who, one of his sayings is, “It’s the leader. It’s always the leader.” When businesses flourish, there’s a leadership component of that always. The desire to help grow, and to nurture, and to support leaders, as I think, been in there a long time, partly planted by being a student of it, and by having the benefit of being with some good leaders, as I’ve, particularly the last 25 years, had the profound privilege of working with some really fine and some not very fine leaders, but actually continues to fuel that desire to continue to grow myself and to be of service to others.

Ray: Yeah. You’ve authored three books. One is titled Do Less, Be More: The Life-Changing Power of Focus. Another one called Dare to answer: 8 Questions that Awaken Your Faith and Inspiring Generosity: Stories of Faith and Grace in Art. For you, tell us a little bit. What’s that process look like? How do you develop the topic, the title? How do you actually produce the words on the page? What does that look like for you as a creative?

John: How I started is tied intimately to my faith journey. Let me start there, and then I’ll come back a little bit to the process of that. Is that okay?

Ray: Yeah, of course, perfect.

John: I grew up in a really nice, wonderful family, churchgoing family, Christian parents. I went to a Lutheran elementary school, Lutheran High School, Lutheran college. As we moved from Seattle to the Twin Cities, I was in my mid 30s. At that point in my life yet, even though we were Sunday going to church, sort of folks, my wife, Carolyn and me both and I had never read Scripture, ever read Scripture.

Ray: You’re in your 30s.

John: I’m in my 30s, including that pedigree of having grown up with this family and going to those schools. I was introduced to a gentleman. He actually taught a class that took people cover-to-cover through Scripture in a year. I had no desire of going to this class that took people cover-to-cover through Scripture. I had a friend who kept on asking me to go to the class. I kept on saying I really wasn’t interested. Finally, just to get him to stop asking me, I finally agreed to go to the first night of the class, to just audit it, punch the clock, tick the box and then say, “Really, this isn’t my deal.”

Well, the deal with the class was, in order to attend the lecture, that Money would give every Tuesday night, for two hours, you had to write a paper in advance. Whatever he was going to be teaching on, whatever section of Scripture, you had to write a paper in advance, and come prepared with that paper and he would stand at the door with his handout to receive the papers. If you showed up without one, he’d go, “Hope you come back next week,” and you couldn’t gain entry to the lecture.

Well, it was in the course of that of writing the papers, that he eventually pulled me aside and said, “When you do a leadership course, or whatever you do in leadership, what do you leave behind?” I said, “Well, we’ve got some handouts and stuff.” He goes, “You can write. You should write a book.” Actually, in most cases, I really had no desire to do this, just like I had no desire to attend his class, but it often takes the encouragement of somebody else, to begin with. It takes some shepherding, I think, in order to do it.

He encouraged me and actually wouldn’t let it go. He was a persistent old guy, and so he just wouldn’t let it go and so I started writing. I’m in process, so I’m a momentum writer. I need to be writing regularly in order to write well, so I do. I write regularly. I’m an early morning writer. That’s when my mind is usually clearest. The way that I go about the process, so the first book that I wrote was originally titled 8 Questions God Can’t answer. It’s a book on Jesus’s questions because his principal methodology for teaching was to ask questions. In the four gospels he asks, give or take 125 discrete questions. Most often when he’s asked the question he answers with a question. Most often when he invites someone into a conversation, it’s with a question. He tells 40 stories, which we call parables, and he does 35 miracles, so kind of like when all else fails, he does a miracle.

I wrote a book on Jesus’s questions and the way that I write that and every other book is to just begin accumulating content. It’s very old school in hanging folders that pertain to what I think is an architecture for a book that then becomes eventually the book.

Ray: Fantastic. You mentioned that first book, which you ultimately named, Dare to Answer: 8 Questions That Awaken Your Faith. What would be just one or two very provocative questions from the book that our audience would be interested to hear?

John: Virtually, the first question that Jesus asked in his public ministry, there are these two disciples of John that are following behind Jesus and they’re kind of traipsing along behind them. At one point, He turns around and fixes his gaze right on them and says, “What do you want?” Which is, it seems like a really simple question, but it’s actually a really profound question. It’s actually a question that God asks us regularly in our life. “What do you want? Really, what do you want?” They were so stunned by the directness of the question that their answer was, “Where are you staying?” Because they didn’t know what to say.

Another question that Jesus asked, they were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, which I had a privilege of seeing last year, for the first time. We were in the Holy Land and this wonderful, idyllic kind of Lake. It’s not that big actually. They’re halfway across, and the lake blows up in this huge storm in the middle of the night, and the boats going down, and Jesus is asleep in the back and probably all of your listeners know the story, they shake him awake and he says, “Why are you so afraid?” Wow.

The obvious answer is, because we’re about to drown. Right? We’re going down fast here. The reality is that, they were heading across the lake from the Jewish side of the lake to the non-Jewish side of the lake to be with people that these 12 followers of Jesus normally wouldn’t have anything to do with. The question isn’t really about this physical storm, it’s about the terror of going to be with people that we wouldn’t normally hang with, that we shouldn’t be with, the unclean, the unwashed, the whomever, fill in the blank. Jesus is really asking, “Why are you so afraid of that?”

Ray: Wow. We could go on with the other six questions, but I’d like to drill down on these first two. I’d really like to contextualize them, John, for our audience, the business leaders. Right? They’re running a business, leading a company in department or division. These two questions, “What do you want?” And “Why are you so afraid?” How does that apply to a Christian in business? Your entire life and world is around leadership development. Just those two. Let’s drill down.

John: Yeah. The first question, “What do you want?” Is actually a principle, a really foundational question that we have to ask an answer regularly. The funny paradox of that question is that, what Jesus actually wants us to want is him. We think we have an answer to that question. Well, I want this. I want sales to increase. I want my team to come together. I want to be able to deliver on this mission I want. What Jesus is really asking is, are you pursuing me? Do you want me? I’m a small business owner. I’m an entrepreneur, small business owner, like some of the listeners to this podcast. I have certain desires, but I want to be checking those desires regularly against the desires of God, is what I want, what he wants, for me to deliver through my life, and through my marriage, and through my parenting, and through my business and through my grandparenting and so forth.

It’s an extremely important question is, it’s the first question that Jesus asks, “What do you want?” Right? When the disciples of John said, “Well, where are you staying?” His response to that was, “Come and see.” Right? That’s actually the opening invitation that Jesus gives to people at the beginning of the journey, or when we’re re-igniting the journey of following him. It’s like, “Just follow after me for a while, come and see, check it out, check me out, watch what I do. Listen to what I say.” On the basis of that, they became followers.

Ray: Otherwise, I’m really, really solid. As leaders, we need to be asking, “What is it that Jesus-

John: What does God want from us? For us?

Ray: What about that second question, as a leader this question of, “Why are you so afraid?” What’s the application there?

John: Yeah, so the question behind the question there. Again, the setting is, they’re crossing across this lake to go to the other side. The continuation of that story is that, they’re met on the other side. It’s like a Stephen King novel. Right? They’re met on the other side by a man who is naked, bound in chains, screaming, surrounded by pigs. This is not what good Jewish followers of Jesus, this is not what they were wanting to do. Right? Being surrounded by a naked man in chains screaming surrounded by pigs. This is all bad. The question behind the question that I write about in the book is, they’re going over to the other side. The question is, what’s the other side for you? What’s the other side for you? As a business person, what’s the other side that perhaps God is calling you to cross over to with how you’re leading your business, for how you’re interacting with your team, for what customer you’re pursuing, or how you’re pursuing them?

I was leading a group of leaders at a church, a number of years ago, when the book first came out, and I was taking this leadership team in this church through this, and I asked this question to the group and then I said, “No. Have a conversation at your table around this, what’s the other side for you with your teammates?” All soon really uncomfortable, awkward silence falls over the room and I could just sense that the Mojo just was bad, just bad like, “What did I just say?” I stepped in something here and I said, “What I what did I just step in here with you?” Because sometimes, I can just feel the tension in the room.

One of the staff members timidly said, “Well, actually, honestly, the other side for us is, right across the street, literally the other side of the street from our place is low income housing. The children from the low income housing are coming over to our Sunday School classes, but there’s a whole contingent of people in the Church that don’t want them to come over to us because, when they do, our markers disappear, and they don’t all smell good. They’re just not because this is kind of a suburban kind of wealthy church, but happens to have this right across the street. The other side for us, is actually to go literally to the other side of the street and wholeheartedly open-handedly invite these folks in.”

Ray: That is powerful.

John: It was a moment for them of just honest. It was truly a come to Jesus moment.

Ray: You think about the number of businesses that refuse to make the necessary change, with technology, with change in the marketplace, and they’re just not going to make it today. The older leader who’s like, “These millennials. I just can’t deal with these young people and they’re entitled in this and that.” That’s their other side. They have to learn how to address and deal with those leaders.

John: In my terrain, in my business I work with a variety of different types of business segments, so financial services, for example. That marketplace is changing dramatically. Technology is having a profound impact on tightening the, how much money they can make on product sales, for example. The margin is really tight down. There’s another side there that’s created by technology. I work with some healthcare. Healthcare is dramatically changing and fast and really there’s another side there and it’s scary. The unknown of that there is, it’s crossing the sea at night with a big whole storm. It’s scary stuff.

It’s so and Jesus is there. It just got me. It says in Scripture that he stood up and he rebuked, he rebuked the storm and then he asked calmly of the disciples. He didn’t rebuke the disciples for being afraid. He rebuked the storm, and then he calmly asked the disciples.

Ray: I love that. That is really, really good. John, this book, the 8 Questions That Awaken Your Faith, how can our audience get a copy? How could they learn more? Because these are intriguing questions that we’ve already addressed.
John: It’s on Amazon,, just go with the title, Dare to Answer and you can purchase it there.

Ray: Oh, fantastic. Well, if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk about one of the other books for just a couple of moments here. Do Less, Be More: The Life Changing Power of Focus. Okay, I’m intrigued. Tell me more about doing less.

John: One of the lessons learned, for me, working with leaders is that, many if not most of the leaders with whom I work, are extraordinarily busy, too busy. Technology aids and abets that. It allows us, if we choose, if we allow it to be on 24/7. There’s a beautiful sight of them. I’m not a Luddite. I like my iPhone. Okay. I like being able to be connected. Our younger son lived and volunteered in rural South Africa for a year, and we could be in touch with him for free, which is just amazing to me. I don’t know. I have no clue how that even works, but we could keep in touch with them. That’s terrific. It can easily overwhelm us as leaders and as just men and women.

The intent of the book is, it’s not a book on simplicity. It’s not go sell all your stuff and live in a tiny home. What it really is, is a series of chapters to help people become clear on what it is that God has gifted you in? What is it that you feel called to? What are the core values that you want to live out? How do you know if you’re in and out of alignment of those core values? Given all of that, what is the vision that you have for both your life and your work? The book is meant to be a really pretty practical narrative around that. Then at the end of each chapter, some tools around that. How do I do less and make the choices of what do I say yes to him and my yes remains yes? How do I say no to him I know remains no, so that I can be most effective in my life, and work, and ministry, and marriage and so forth.

Ray: Okay. As I’m listening, I’ve got a couple of friends that I had recent conversation with, and I just know how they would respond to what you just said. John, that sounds great, but you don’t understand how much I’ve got on my plate. I’ve got this business that I’m trying to grow. I’ve got all these employees I’m responsible for. I’ve got my family. I’ve got my church. I’ve got my pastor wanting me to serve on this committee and that and I’m asked to be involved on this board and that and John, I am just overwhelmed and you’re telling me that I need to do less and by doing less, I’ll accomplish more. Would you help me process that, so that I can go help my friend process that.

John: Yes. The first answer is, it’s not easy. In fact, it’s countercultural because by the worldly culture, the water we swim in, we’re rewarded for being busy. It’s honorable to be busy. I’ve got any number of friends that just glory in how many miles they fly in Delta Airlines every year. “Are you a diamond guy?” “No, I’m just a platinum guy.” “Oh, you’re just a platinum guy, wooh.” It’s countercultural actually to do this.

For me, most recently, a really visceral learning around this was being in Israel last year for two full weeks being on the ground and being in Jerusalem for one and in Tel Aviv for the second Sabbath, watching a whole country and culture, take a Sabbath and in Jerusalem in particular, because it’s older and more Orthodox, traditional, the city shuts down. It’s like the United States used to be 50 years ago on Sunday. Right? The public transportation doesn’t run. There are very few cars on the street, all the Jewish owned and run businesses are closed. It’s not actually just stopping and laying on the couch with the remote and watching professional sports or whatever, or playing 18 holes of golf, it’s a looking back of what God has done in the week before and looking forward to what it is He is intending for you to do and preparing for you to do in the upcoming weekend celebrating that with family and friends.

The impact of that is that, in spite of the fact that they’re surrounded by people in countries that want to annihilate them, Israel perennially is ranked as being one of the happiest countries in the world. I don’t think that’s random. I just read a wonderful book by Wayne Muller titled Sabbath. In it he has a number of wonderful quotes, one of which though is, “Our willingness to rest depends on what we believe we will find there.”

Ray: Oh, I like that.

John: I think that our willingness to rest depends on what we believe we will find there. I’ve been guilty of this too. I think many times my unwillingness to rest, my unwillingness to slow down is because I’m scared of what might happen if I do. What might I discover? What might I feel that I’m anesthetizing myself too by moving so quickly, by deluding myself that if it is to be, it’s up to me? That is such profoundly bad advice. Right? It just isn’t true.

Ray: That’s right. That’s right. What is it that most people think they will find at rest?

John: Well, I’m an experiment of one. I can only speak for myself. I’ve observed and worked with and coached a lot of leaders. We might find that, if I’m not doing it, all things actually hum along better, without my doing it all. Or we might find that some of the pain that I’m ignoring, actually, really surfaces when I slow down enough to actually really feel the pain. Or we might find that some of what I’m pursuing by being so overly busy, isn’t really healthy, or good or God honoring for me to pursue. Or we might find that some of the things that we’re saying yes to under the guise of, the church asked, and I say yes, and the church asked again, and then say yes and the church asked again, and I say yes, three more times. Some of that actually isn’t because I’m such a Jesus following disciple. It’s because my ego loves it when I get honored for doing all this stuff in the church.

When we allow ourselves to do less, and to slow down some and to have Sabbath built into our life, whether it’s a day or whether it’s a part of the day or how I tend to drive in the car and have the radio turned off. For me, that’s just a simple practice where it allows me during those 15, 30, 40 minutes, whatever, to just quiet my mindsome and to, since no one is talking, I might actually be listening.

Ray: Yeah, that’s really good. As I’m listening to what you’re sharing, I’m thinking, our culture here in America particularly, it’s always about more, more, new, 2.0, 3.0, new and improved, revised, bigger, better, prettier, whatever. This is countercultural to your point because this is about gratitude and contentment. I’m even thinking this. Our annual holiday of Thanksgiving, which is the day we’re supposed to just take some time, be grateful and be, all the stores open up for the Midnight Madness leading into Christmas. We can’t even take one day.

John: Right. Actually, I overuse this saying, but words create worlds. Right? Even the words we use are really important, just the word content. When was the last time you asked a person, say, “Ray, how are you?” And your answer is content.

Ray: Yeah. It just doesn’t happen.

John: It doesn’t happen because the word now connotes that you’re a slacker. If your content you must not be striving. If you’re not striving, you must be slacking. Well, what if content is actually good? What if? What if God wants us to be content, content in his grace, content in the beauty that he surrounds us with, content in our friendship? What if? That’s not slacking at all. That’s actually celebrating what God has brought into our life?

Ray: John, I’m sure right now that that somebody just had to pull their car over. Somebody just had to stop running as they’re listening this and go, “Content. Oh, my goodness. That’s almost like a curse word.” You’re just reminding us of the importance that that may just be… It is a Holy word. It is a Holy word and we’ve gotten rid of it.

John: Well, Paul says, “I’ve learned what it is to be content in all things.” Then he lists the continuum of terrible and great. In the midst of all of that, he says, I’ve learned what it is and it is a learning. This is not, I don’t think, natural for us. Our natural sinful self is to be discontent. Then we’re bombarded with millions of messages every day in marketing, that the intent of marketing is to make us discontent.

Ray: No doubt.

John: Right. If you don’t own this car, Ooh, baby, you probably aren’t driving a very nice car or you look like this, smell like this, whatever, whatever. That’s the whole intent of everything. That’s the water we swim in, is to make us discontent and that’s actually not. That’s not the life of faith.

Ray: Well, the studies and research that I’ve read lately is about the effects of social media. Everybody’s posting their best, their vacation, their high points, their kids that just made on a roll, all these wonderful things. Then it puts others into depression because they don’t feel like they measure up. Even social media and the pace at which we get information is contributing to this.

John: Yeah. Confession is good for the soul. I have to confess one thing here publicly and this is going to be recorded. The reality is, for me person, just speaking for me personally here. A couple of years ago, a very good friend of mine, a colleague of mine in business. He’s a PhD psychologist and Fuller Seminary grad. He’s a man of deep faith that I do some work with together. He showed me a bunch of research around social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the direct connect between those and unhappiness, and encouraged me to get off of social media. I did. I do not have a Twitter account. I have a Facebook page for my book, but I don’t monitor it. I’m terrible at self-promotion. I am a Luddite when it comes to social media.

For me personally, my happiness went up, because I was not reading the curated life experiences of other people. I wasn’t checking how many likes I get on something compared with how many likes somebody, which is, my natural tendency is to do that. I have no social media. I’m not recommending this, I’m just saying. There’s there’s a lot of research that actually shows that it is not healthy.

Ray: That’s incredible.

John: It’s not healthy.

Ray: Well, hopefully, someone just got encouraged by that advice right there that, maybe, just maybe, they’ll apply that for them as well. I can’t believe this, John. We’re getting near the end of this conversation. I’d like to transition into our advice and insights section is, as you look back over the course of your career, as a business owner in corporate and then perhaps even now as a coach consultant, what’s the biggest mistake you could recall making in business? What did you learn from it? How did your faith get you through it?

John: That’s not a short list there actually. I’m an experiential learner. I tend to, how does a person gain good judgment usually by exercising bad judgment and then learning from it? I’ve had a number of those experiences. Maybe the one of the hardest lessons I learned was, in my career in financial services, I was fast rising up and coming, just killing it sort of guy. About halfway through the 14 years, I was offered the opportunity to be a managing partner of a whole region, headquartered back in our hometown of Milwaukee. At the time, Carol and I were living in Seattle. I accepted the role, moved back there ahead of. We had sold our house but Carol and our sons hadn’t joined us. They moved back there and was just starting it and then discovered that it was quite different.

Then what had been portrayed, wasn’t a going concern. It was a startup at best. There was some really difficult ethical problems in the region. There were just a whole host of bad stuff going on, which I hadn’t asked enough questions or I wasn’t paying attention. For me, one of the lessons I learned in that, that the person who had hired me into that, had really misrepresented the opportunity pretty substantially. This may sound naive, but I made a covenant with myself from that point forward, which I’ve stuck with, which has really been healthy and beneficial. I do this both in saying, who I say yes or no to as clients of my practices, leadership development practice, is to pay close attention to two things. One is, is this person nutritious or toxic? Do they give or take energy? And to try as much as possible to be with people that are nutritious, that are energy giving.

It doesn’t mean that I have to agree with them about everything. I don’t. It means that there are people that are nutritious, men and women. The other is, and I’ve been really diligent about this and trying to scope out business opportunities, to not work with people I don’t love, trust and respect, which means that I say no, with some regularity, actually. I don’t recall who said it, but the saying is, “No is a complete sentence.”

Ray: Yeah. Yeah. I’d love that. There’s incredible value and wisdom in that, just that approach, John, even at a macro level as a business owner is too. I know in the startup mode, you take whoever’s going to pay the bills, but as the business matures, as an organization matures, you really are wise to pay attention to what clients you bring on because, is this going to be healthy for our organization, to serve this customer, this client or is this going to take away from us?

We’re going to spend so much time on this, that it’s going to jeopardize how we serve other clients. I wrote this down and I’m going to go even beyond, is this person, but is this opportunity or situation, nutritious or toxic. Is it going to be life giving to us as an organization or life taking? Is that a fair application to that?

John: Yes. Actually, maybe I’m blessed at this age and at this stage with the gift of hindsight and, hopefully, I’ve been paying attention and learning along the way. I even think in the startup phase, saying yes to everything, to pay the bills is not necessarily a good way even in the startup phase. I think actually being discerning and trying to… because everything that we say yes to, every person, every opportunity we say yes to, means that there’s something else that may be considerably better, and more aligned and more life giving, that we may not be able to say yes to because we don’t have the time, the energy the capacity to do that.

Ray: Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. That’s great. Yeah.

John: It might mean that the startup takes a little bit longer, but long-term, I believe it’s going to be more life giving, more joyful, more fulfilling, and likely more profitable, actually because of those first three.

Ray: That’s fantastic. If you could go back and advise the 20-year old John. Let’s go back in time, you’re sitting across the table, what advice would you give to the 20-year old you?

John: Well, first of all, the 20-year old John probably wouldn’t listen to any advice. At 20, I was the embodiment of the statement that, men grew up only one that’s the last available option, so I was that guy. Right? I actually got a great piece of advice, little past my 20th birthday, that I would give as the advice I would give to myself again, even earlier. A wiser, older person when I was in my first year in financial services and I was off to the races, I was just selling and I was shocking myself at how good I was at this. It was completely unexpected, really, never having been in business before, didn’t know anything about financial services, but I was killing it, early on. This is older, wiser first manager that I had pulled me aside and said, “John, no amount of success in business will make up for you failing at home.”

I can’t tell you and I’ve had the opportunity to tell him what impact that had on me. I can’t tell you the number of times that that has come back to mind as I’m making choices about what to say yes or no to. The advice I would give myself at 20, and then I continue to give myself at 62, is to keep it in balance, to keep it focused, to focus on the right thing. To keep my faith foremost in my life as foundational. It’s the rock of my marriage with Carol, to keep her foremost in my life as my best friend and my life partner and the rest of this stuff will follow, but no amount of success with the other stuff will make up for me failing at that.

Ray: That’s fantastic. That is so powerful. Thank you for that. That’s probably a great segue then into my last question. Our regular listeners here at Bottom Line Faith, know this is always my last question. It’s based out of Proverbs 4:23, where Solomon says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows all of life.” John, I’d like you to fill in the blank for us, above all else, what would be the advice you would leave with us today?

John: Hmm. I don’t go it alone. We are created in the image of God. The image of God, God is a community, sort of God. He doesn’t want us to go alone. He created us to be in community with others. In my life, personally, and in the observation of leaders over the course of my business life, where I’ve seen leaders get derailed and where I personally have been derailed periodically is, when I’m going it alone, when I’m not in community.

One of the remarkable things I know, Ray, about the work that you’re doing with Truth At Work, is that you’re putting men and women into community and they’re with each other regularly and they’re telling the truth with each other, the good, the bad and the ugly. If we’re going to guard our heart, it’s not a solitary effort. It begins with us, surely, but we need others that are on the journey with us that are asking us the tough questions and holding us accountable to what we say and do, holding our toes to the calls of the commitments that we make.

Because, if we go it alone, David, when kings were supposed to go out to war, he stayed home and was up on the roof and saw Bathsheba and the rest of that we all know, because he was alone. In order for me to guard my heart, I have to be in community with other godly men and women who can encourage me and hold me accountable and walk this out with me, do life with me.

Ray: I love that. Above all else, don’t go it alone. John, how can our audience learn more about you, connect with you, maybe talk with you about coming and working with their company, what would be the best way for them to reach out?

John: The easiest way to connect with me personally is by email. It’s just jbusacker or B-U-S-A-C-K-E-R,, is the easiest way there. Then website is, or, either one.

Ray: Okay, fantastic. Thank you for being our guest here today

John: My pleasure.

Ray: On Bottom Line Faith. Wow, folks, you got to see my note page. It is jam packed with incredible insights from John Busacker, up here in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota area. Just as I’m reflecting here, this whole conversation, I’m going to center back around from his book about, be more, do less. As he said, it’s not just about simplicity, it’s about what we’re focusing on and keeping the main things as the main things, and Sabbath, and rest, and so many principles, so many insights here that we’ve learned from John.

That’s what we’re trying to do here is to encourage you as a Christ follower in business and leadership, as he was just talking about. You might be physically alone right now, you might be writing in your car, you might have your headphones on your treadmill, or going for a walk or whatever. That’s fine, but what John just reminded us of, you can’t do life that way. You can’t do business that way. God has wired us to live and work and thrive in community. What we’re trying to do here at Bottom Line Faith, is encourage you. We’re in this with you. You’re not alone. You’re not in this leadership journey. Christ is right there with you every day.

We’re trying to be that blessing and that encouragement. On that vein, if you are a Christ follower and you are a business leader, and you’re looking for the kind of community that John just reminded us of, I would really like to encourage you to check out our website at That’s truth that and click on the round tables tab on that homepage and learn about one of our Truth At Work round tables that are gathering in communities all across the country. You will be encouraged if you’re participating.

Thank you for joining us on this episode of Bottom Line Faith. I am your host Ray Hilbert encouraging you to live out your faith, every day in the marketplace. God bless and we’ll see you next time.