1:43 – What is Let’s Play Sports?
5:57 – Did you always see yourself in this position? Or how did you come to play this role?
8:02 – My early life and testimony
10:54 – What is a hard decision you’ve had to make in your career or the hardest thing you’ve been through? And how did your faith help you through that?
18:13 – How to learn more
18:40 – What are a couple of Biblical verses or principles that you practice on a daily basis in your leadership?
25:10 – A piece of advice
29:56 – If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently, or what advice would you give to yourself?
34:03 – What advice do you wish someone would have given you in your first year of business?
36:27 – The 4:23 Question
Let’s Play Sports provides recreational soccer leagues for Men, Women, Coed and Youth teams. Their goal is to provide people with the opportunity to exercise, develop friendships and play the World’s Greatest Game. Let’s Play Sports owns and operates indoor soccer facilities across the United States, with 24 locations in 10 different States. The company has grown from a single location in 1986, earning less than $300,000 per year and employing 20 people to over $15 million in 2017, employing 300 and sub-contracting an additional 500 people.
Gary has only had 4 jobs in his lifetime. A job doing grunt work for a cabinet maker for 3 months, a tour guide in Costa Rica for 9 months, a cashier at K-mart for 1 year and an indoor soccer employee for 29 years. In his role, Gary develops and executes corporate strategy, leads crisis management teams, analyzes and determines locations for future facilities nationwide, interviews and selects financial partners, and hires and trains new managers to run sports facilities. He is responsible for the improved performance of all 18 locations, as well as designing and implementing new systems for facility operation.
Jesus made a transformational impact in Gary’s life at age 30 while attending a Catholic University. The result of which lead him to question his calling and role in an organization filled with calamity. Since then Christ has provided a roadmap for His will in and through Gary’s life as a President, Husband, Father, and Friend.
Full Transcript:
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. If you’re a regular listener, welcome back. If you’re a first-time listener, tune in. You’re going to be excited by our conversation today and let’s jump right into our guest for today’s program. I have been particularly excited about the conversation that we’re going to have today. 1. I’m a sports fan, 2. I love Jesus, not necessarily in that order, number 3. I love to talk with Christ-followers who are truly living out their faith in business and in the marketplace. So, today folks, coming to us from, online, of course, from Austin, Texas is Mr. Gary Archer. Gary is the President of Let’s Play Sports Ink. Gary, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
Gary: Well thank you guys for having me. It’s an honor to be so here, so I appreciate the time.
Ray: Well, Gary, we’re going to have a great time today. We’re going to learn a lot about your journey, we’re going to learn about how your faith shapes your leadership in business, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t start- I want to learn, tell us about what exactly is Lets Play Sports?
Gary: Sure. So, Let’s Play Sports is the company we own and operate an indoor soccer facility all across the United States. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what indoor soccer is, it is- Picture hockey, ice hockey. Like NHL ice hockey and you want to remove the ice and put down astroturf and you throw six people out there, on each team, with a soccer ball. They can bounce the balls off the walls. So, we do that and recreational format for teams, for people to play together and enjoy themselves. Things like basketball leagues, bowling leagues. Those kinds of things, that’s what we do all over the country.
Ray: Well, Gary I have to admit I’m a life on baseball guy and I’m just coming to understand soccer. So, talk to us kind of about the evolution of the popularity of the game here in the country and then how has your business sort of tracked the growth and popularity of soccer?
Gary: Sure, I think there is probably two things that you should know about when will we have this discussion, maybe like a lot of people don’t know. There are two different types of demographics of people who pay attention in soccer in the United States. 1. Is people who acutely play so the participation demographic, right? Those that play. Then there’s the others that just are just the fans of soccer and for, man, more then ten years now, for probably a decade, soccer itself has been the third most participated sport in the United States. The only two sports that beat it out are, you got it with baseball, baseball and softball is number two and basketball is number one. So the popularity of soccer as far as participation has been really high for a really long time and that’s the business were in, the participation side. Now recently the fan has always lagged in participation, it’s way behind. But, recently there’s been a significant up check in the popularity in the fan side, so we’re starting to see that side grow as well. So a lot of times, you know, whereas the participation side got a little sideways. The participation and the fan are two separate. So, when the fans grow and jump digits and the participation basically stays in third place.
Ray: Okay and how has that kind of shift and growth in the popularity of the game- how is the growth of your business? Because you start back in, what, 86 if I’m not mistaken. 1986 with your first location.
Gary: Yeah.
Ray: So, kind of what’s the business done since that time?
Gary: Yeah, no 1986 we started with the $300,000 facility, a single facility, over that period of time we are now at twenty-four locations and we are pushing $16,000,000 in revenue. So that growth in participation we have definitely been the beneficiaries of that for quite a while it’s really made a significant impact.
Ray: Well, congratulations on that. That’s pretty fantastic to learn. So, when I think of soccer leagues and so forth, $16,000,000 that seems to me to be a lot of people playing a lot of soccer and now in many locations. So, that’s got to be really exciting for you and your team.
Gary: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think the greatest thing in this is we have a lot of high touches with our costumers. So, where you typically see in business, sometimes you think of a Walmart, they’ve got lots of people coming through their doors, and maybe even their frequency is pretty high but ours – We see the same players multiple times in a week, right? So people play usually two, three teams so we see them over a high period of time with a high frequency. So, when you have a high frequency like that, we have an opportunity to build relationships. So we have got over 100,000 new players come through our doors every year, and they visit our facilities something like two a half million visits a year. So, the opportunity to reach people, you know, with the Gospel and to share, you know, just about God and about Christ, that opportunity is just overwhelming. The numbers are just overwhelming.
Ray: That is incredible. Right there is a whole mission field there, and we are going to get to that in just a few moments. But did you kind of grow up thinking that you would someday lead a company with multiple locations around the game of soccer? Was that sort of your lifelong dream? How did you end up in this role?
Gary: Yeah, that’s a great question. Well, no. I don’t think anybody- I grew up wanting to be a professional soccer player my entire life. At some point and time, I broke my leg three times and realized that wasn’t meant to be. My dad actually opened up an indoor soccer facility in 1987; my dad is just a phenomenal salesperson what didn’t have operation skills in order to run that business Successfully. So, somewhere around 1991, I remember our family was going to go into bankruptcy, and that’s when we meet the found of Let’s Play Sports, his name is Tom Higginson and he kind of came in and helped us get better at the operation, and he split the shares with us 50/50. Which was a pretty easy decision for us because we figured 50% of 0 was a pretty big deal and you know, ever since then we’ve been just doing this. Being super successful my dad was able to retire in 1994. You know, I’ve worked with the company, and I’m very loyal to Tom Higginson for doing that. I know he has a lot of experience in real estate and I’m pretty sure he knew he probably could have picked our location up out of for closer or something like that. So he stepped in and really made a significant impact in my life, and I’ve just been working in the organization ever since. Just taking different opportunities moving up, doing everything from sweep the floors to be the president of the company.
Ray: That’s exciting. Well, as I was listing to you share a little bit about the background with Tommy, you know, I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and I said sort of this silly statement mean, I said “If you ever see a turtle on a fencepost there is one thing you know for sure, they didn’t get there on there own.”
Gary: That’s right.
Ray: And so, you really are giving homage and honor to this particularly this gentleman, not only your father but this other businessman who really helped lifted (sic) this organization, is that correct?
Gary: That is absolutely true, that is absolutely true. I definitely stand on the shoulders of giants.
Ray: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So, lets just then talk a little bit about, Gary if we may, about kind of your early life. Did you grow up in a Christian home? Tell us about the point that you came into a personal relationship with Jesus.
Gary:Sure. Yeah, no, I didn’t grow up in a home where Christ was sort of the center before my grandmother had lived with us for quite a period of time. She was a strong believer. You know, tried to force us to go to church. When I got the opportunity to choose I chose not to go. Then, you know, I didn’t really make that decision. Then I went to college and interacted with some people that, you know, claimed to be Atheists I think I said, “Yeah, that makes sense.” I thought I’ll go ahead and be an Atheist. Then I made that decision and put it up on a shelf, and I just left it alone for years and years and years, until about 2002. So I was almost thirty-years-old. I was twenty-nine when I finally finished up college, and I went to this university in Houston, Texas called the University of St.Thomas, and it’s a funny story. They require you to take some of these theology and philosophy classes in order to graduate. So, I did it. I went in as an Atheist, and I did that out of obligation and just through, you know, reading about who Jesus was, what He did, and why He did the things that He did, and why God loves us, and why He wants to be in a relationship with us. My heart began to turn and somewhere in the middle of all of that, when I was on campus of that university is when I committed myself to Christ, it was in 2002. I mean it was an immediate shift in almost everything in my life. I saw the world in such a different way before. I tell this to my wife all the time because she asked me “What was the biggest thing that you noticed.” and the thing that I always noticed was in the life before knowing Christ, there was always apprehension, and I was always worried about something I had done or mistake that I had made was going to catch up to me. I was always looking over my shoulder thinking “Something is going to catch up to me.” when I became a believer, and I accepted Christ there was a sense of peace that I still have to this day, it’s just overwhelming. I’ve never been as peaceful as after knowing that, hey I have this Savoir and nothing else matters, right. Nothing else matters. So, and it can’t be taken away from me it’s eternal, and it’s going to last forever. It created such a peace in my life it was just an amazing moment.
Ray: Well, I love hearing stories like what you’re sharing here Gary where there was in your world and your life and your journey where there was a very clear distinction of life before your relationship with Christ and your life after and coming into personal relationship with Christ and it really does shape your worldview. It shapes how you lead, it shapes how you live, and it business. I’d like to talk about that, some of that transition and how you live out your faith. Now as you look back to Gary over the course have your career, now nearly thirty years in the indoor soccer business if my math is close.
Gary: That’s about right.
Ray: As you look back let’s talk about maybe a really, really hard decision that you had in business. Maybe it was a difficult circumstance or scenario what was the hardest thing that you’ve been through? Then how did your faith help you work through that?
Gary: Yeah. It is actually very timely because- kind of the two things that are always the toughest is something that involves a lot of money and what your characters going to look like when you’re around money and how you treat people. I’ve got stories for both, but I think the one that matters that most really, that I spent a lot of time making a decision around was we have an individual who had been working for our organization for almost as long as I had. She has been with us for about twenty-four years, and she made some really poor decisions around money and misappropriation of funds. She never actually took any money she just misappropriated then putting them in the wrong boxes, if you will, with the intent of benefiting herself. So, during this process obviously there’s a lot of things you can do and I think the world would say that “That’s easy, you just terminate that person.” but at that time I was in a Truth at Work ward, and we had just worked on something called The Four Step Decision-Making Model, and it just talked about how do you make these types of decisions and seek wisdom from God. I think the very first one- intuitively you just pray, right, you go pray. But, really what it talked about was you go to God’s word first. So what does God’s word say about your situation and then go to prayer. Then go to seek your godly counsel and see what then just see what your personal experiences were, what’s the situation doing. So, I was determined to make this decision relying on that, you know, discernment through God and so when I went to the Bible you can’t just say “Hey, I’ve got this employee hears her name, and she misappropriated funds. Okay, what’s the answer?” It doesn’t really work that way. So, you have to really kind of work through in prayer and discern what is this answer, where am I looking for the answer? I had three verses that really came, that hit home. I’m going to do Matthew 7:2- for in the same way you judge others you’ll be judged and the measure you use it will be measured to you. Right? Then Micah 6:8 talks about “He has shown you oh mortal what is good and what the Lord requires of you to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” then is final verses Luke 13:6-8, it’s a parable about a man had a fig tree growing in this vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but he did not find any, so he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for food on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down, why should it use up the soil.” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it alone for one more year I’ll dig around and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine. If not then cut it down.” So, from those kinds of verses, I went and sought some counsel and those sorts of things and sought prayer, what I really discerned was there is an idea of there is a time when to apply justice, there is a time to apply mercy and where is the balance of those two things? You know, when I was reviewing the Bible it just appears to me in the Bible, and I’m not an expert, but it appears to me that God doled out mercy or God doled out justice in ways that would guarantee redemption for the person. So, sometimes we see justice as it drives people to redemption, sometimes we see mercy as it drives people to redemption and I’m not God, and I don’t know people’s intent and I can only do what I can and pray for discernment. But. I figured if I’m going to make a mistake, you know, these verses were all pointing to mercy, and that was kind of the decision I leaned towards. Was we decided to not only be merciful with the person, she did have to be some consequences, we suspended her without pay for a period of time. But at the same time too on that Luke 13:6-8 we actually when it talks about we dug around and fertilize the tree like we’re not just going to leave her alone and just let her figure it out on her. We’re going to support her, so in addition to, you know, suspending her we actually paid for her to have an executive coach. Really coach her around “Why did you make this decision? You’ve been in this organization for twenty-four years, what drove this year that led to this kind of decision?” And we re-equipped her so that when she came back that she would be in a better position. And, you know, she continued to work for the organization for I want to say, three maybe five more years, somewhere in that ballpark and she just recently retired. So I don’t know what the future looks like, but as far as that period of time we had a twenty-four-year employee that worked for us, that honored us with service for a lot of years. I think the world would probably say, you know, “She messed with your money, you should fire her.” But I was looking at my Bible and looking and speaking with my Godly counsel, they said otherwise. They said here’s an opportunity to provide some mercy, maybe help her to seek some redemption.
Ray: Well, I would suspect that that’s going to be the case. I want to just review real quickly because you walked through a biblical decision-making model and many of our listeners here, Gray, at the program are familiar with Truth at Work, and what we do with our roundtables and many of our listeners are not so no need to go into that right now, that’s okay. But would you mind walking through once again quickly the four steps that you went through in this very challenging decision-making process
Gary: Sure. Yeah and so you know, it was about going to God’s first right? So, finding places in the Bible that, you know, where God’s word speaks to the core of the situation that you’re looking into and the core of the situation I was looking into is this person mercy or justice and so I searched out and now I have more verses than the three I just shared, Ray. I didn’t cherry pick verses. So, there is that one, and then you seek the Holy Spirit in prayer. So, through prayer it helps me discern, am I cherry picking these verses or is God doing this? Then at the same time too, you know, go to the people that are your Godly counsel, so you go to them, you present the situation to them and get their Godly counsel on it. Then the last one is just personal experience, you know, what have I learned all these years from my experience? That I’ve seen through Christan experience and you know worldly experience, all of those types of things. So it’s just steps you have to be intentional about because I think the point of it is it’s four steps so I would like to say that you triangulate, whatever the four steps is the answer that you’re going to come up with will not lie outside of any of those four. So, whatever the decision was that I was going to make if it fits inside of those four it probably- because in life there are a lot of right decisions and there are a lot of wrong decisions too. But, if my answer came and aligned with all four of those, there’s probably going to be a right decision. The tool and the time of the tool was amazing I literally had the problem the day before we had the lesson. So, it was a great opportunity to utilize it.
Ray: Oh, I love it. That is fantastic. Gary if someone wants to learn more about you or the company, what is the best way for them to do that?
Gary: They can just go to our website it’s letplaysoccer.com you’re interested in playing, or you want to reach out to me you can reach out to me through the website I’d be happy to talk to anybody. But, yeah if you’re looking to play obviously, find one of the facilities and reach out to them.
Ray: Alright fantastic that’s letsplaysoccer.Com, and so Gary let’s move on here a little bit and talk about maybe just a couple of biblical principles. You’ve talked about this biblical decision-making model that you’ve applied in a real scenario with a difficult decision around key employee. But, what’s maybe a couple of Biblical verses or principles that you have to practice on a daily basis in your leadership?
Gary: Sure, you know, for years and years I lead the organization, and I was very task-focused individual like I felt if we got the work done and we got the job done, that that equaled success, right. The success was getting the work done, and that’s okay, right. It’s good to get the work done, but it’s not good to get the work done if it damages the relationship. So, the closer I come in my relationship with Christ the more I realize, you know- I like to tell this to my children is “relationships is a currency of Heaven.” is what I tell my kid. Because it always talks about “Don’t build up treasures here, build them up in the other world.” and I thought about what about the things that I’ll still be able to have, you know, on the other side. It’s always that. It boils back to the relationships. So, the Bible is pretty clear on that, Matthew 5:23 and 24 is one of my favorite verses where it says “Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother sister had something against you leave your gift there in front of the altar first go and be reconciled to them and go offer your gift.” So, it’s really just that God sees relationships as even more important than sacrifice, that’s the message that I received from that. So, relationships trump all. So, when I’m in any type of situation, you know what I mean? I just have to keep in mind that relationships are my number one priority. In fact on my phone, where I think people run around all the time trying to figure out “What ministry I’m called to do, what am I supposed to be doing?” I was one of these people for, and then I read 2nd Corinthians 5:18 that says, “All of this is from God reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” so if you’re wondering what your ministry is, there it is, your ministry is reconciliation. So, I keep that on my phone because I always think when I’m in a situation “Am I being a reconciler? Am I reconciling this or making things worse? Am I throwing gas on this fire or am I reconciling this situation?” I think that’s been huge, just putting those relationships first. Then the last one that I had was, especially for our company, we had some troubles around sales particularly this year. I think we have to be careful with is God doesn’t always promise smooth sailing and so I really learned in Romans 5:3 and 4 this year and that is not only that but rejoice in suffering. Knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope. That is really, as we have gone through a decline in sales and tried to some somethings. It’s really just a matter of in our lives we have to be able to thank God for the suffering as well as for the good. That’s something really easy to say and hard to do, kind of thing. That’s one I’ve really been kind of Illuminating this year.
Ray: Well, I’ll tell you and I like to take notes in these conversations and I wrote this down for a take away for me and maybe somebody listening to our conversation, it will be a good take away for them. But you made this statement and I just love this, “That relationships are the currency of Heaven” and at the end of the day that is first and foremost what God is concerned with, thank you for that, that’s just is an encouragement and reminder for me as well, so thank you. What I would love to learn a little is with all this demands that you have your business, the pressure of demands there, we’ve talked about bit, you know, family life, church life, those sorts of things. How do you go about, I’m not even sure I like using this question or word, balancing it all. But how do you make sure to keep the main thing the main thing with all that’s on your plate?
Gary: Well, I like that. I’m glad you didn’t us word balance, right. So, prioritize, I think that’s the key.
Ray: That’s right, that’s right.
Gary: Well, I mean, here is another word I don’t like to use. I think it is overused a lot, but it is that concept of intentionality like you have to be intentional about what you do. But I do think that idea of faith, family, and work- there is a danger compartmentalizing them, like separating them from each other. So, one of my goals has always been to bring the whole person to work, bring the whole person home, include those types of things. So, just separate the compartmentalization. You know, personal practices of giving God my first fruits of my first hour and a half of quiet time every day with no exceptions. You know, there have been times that I’ve missed my quiet and it has not been a good day. I just wasn’t in a good space. Obviously, have to be intentional about the quality time with each family member, and we have taken time. You take best practices from your business and apply them to your family, yes I have the greatest wife in the world, by the way, guys. So she plays along with some of this business stuff. We have a vision for our family, and so we have a goal to support that vision. I’m excited because we have a twelve-year-old and so we are going to be talking about revisiting, you know, the family mission and those sorts of things. This is the first time that they are at an age where they can kind of grasp those concepts and be able to speak into it, so I’m excited about that. As far as just work goes, I think that back to the relationship thing. One of the things I’ve learned about relationships, before I use to think “okay, how am I going to achieve that, like task wise? How am I going to break this down, chunk out the elephant? Eat it one bit at a time.”
Now in a problem or challenge presents itself I don’t think of how I’m going to do it. I of who I’m going to do it with, right. The ability to get work done through others the more and more I do that the more and more time I have to spend with family and do those sort of things. We have a lot more fun by the way too that way. Those are the keys not compartmentalizing, stay connected to God, you know, stay intentional about my family time and work with the kids and just make sure that I’m getting work done through others and not putting everything on my-
Ray: Well, you said something Gary, I just want to not just gloss over because it is like amazing. You said you start each day with a one and a half hour, ninety minutes of quiet time and just settling in with the Lord and so forth. Let’s just imagine that there is somebody that’s listening to his conversation right now and they’re busy, and they hit the ground running this morning. They have forty emails, they have to get the kids to school and get into the office and all those things and maybe right now they’re no their treadmill, they’re listening to this conversation, or they’ve got it on their phone, and they’re listening as they are driving down the road. What advice or encouragement could you give to them? Someone who just heard, “Wait a minute, this guy just said he spends ninety minutes a morning with the Lord.” What words of encouragement, how could that happen? How could you maybe help them do that too?
Gary: Oh, good call. You know what? I think there are three things that really got me fired up to stay committed to doing this, and one is, I mean, I want to be in a closer relationship with Christ, and so much stuff gets in my way all the time, right? So, I always have stuff that could take presidents, and so I was always, you know, “I needed to sleep in because I stayed up late.” or “I need to get to this email.” or “I need to get to that appointment” and those kinds of things. So, I was trying to fit Christ into my schedule, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t like it when you do that. One of the things that I realized was in one of my quiet times, “Why is it such a struggle for me to actually commit to doing something?” and initially I was just trying to get thirty minutes, right, I was just trying to get to thirty minutes. What I realized was if it’s important you make time for it. So, it’s Texas people go hunting here, I go camping, and we get up super early to go camping, and I make time to go camping, and you know, I stay up late that night packing, but I get up, and I go do it because we want to do it. I can’t tell you how many times I see the sun come up getting ready for a soccer game or those kinds of things. So, why are those things so important in the mornings when I go on lesser sleep or whatever else it is I have to do it, but I’m not willing to do it for God? I felt really convicted that, “Oh, that’s probably not where I want to be.” So, you know, I started out at half an hour. I graduated to about an hour and then the second one that really caught my attention was I was reading about Martin Luther, and he talked about “Oh, it just started getting really hard,” under the pressures of what he was doing and everything was really just starting to pile up. He said somewhere. It was like he expanded his time for God the busier he got, the more time he spent with God, not the reverse right? So, he didn’t take time away, he increased. So, as demands went up on his time, as pressure increased, he increased his time with God, and I thought “wow.” That’s what got me to an hour and a half. Because this year we struggled, just this year with sales and other things we struggled. But I just thought, “You know what? I’m struggling in a lot of things. I need more time with God, not less time with God.” It’s just making it a priority, put it down. Then I had a friend of mine tell me yesterday, I love his analogy on this, just talking about tithing and first fruits and those sorts of things. If you really think about it when you wake up your first fruits your tithes for the day, there is nothing more valuable than human beings, like other than God, the thing you can’t get back is time. You can get more money. You can do a lot of things like once you spend the time, it is gone and you can’t get it back. It’s so valuable that we should honor God with that tithe of our time. So, that first fruits is what I personally pick up in the morning and give to God. I’m out there was probably 90, will I don’t know what the percentage is on people that are night owls. I’ve always been a night owl my entire life and this concept of getting up and having this quiet time with God was such a struggle with me, and I tried to do it in the evenings and it just didn’t work out. So, I just think nothing has been more beneficial to building my relationship with Christ than this time that I set aside. I’m as busy as you I bet. I’m sure there are people out there that are a lot busier than I am. But I’m as busy as most of you guys probably out there. It’s possible if you make it a priority, there’s a lot of things we do in our lives that are priorities. I mean you can do it. It doesn’t do anything but pay dividends, I mean I can’t think about anything like I’m talking about it now and I can’t think about- I’m greedy, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
Ray: Well, we’re going to fill our time with something and that is you’re filling your time first thing in the morning with the fruit with the Holy Spirit. So, Gary, we’ve talked about the business, we’ve talked about, you know, the history a little bit about that, we’ve talked about your background, how you’ve came [sic] to faith in Christ, we’ve talked about a couple of scenarios of living out your Biblical principles in business. So, this last section I’d like to kind of transition into what I kind of like to call our advice section and our encouragement section of the conversation.
Gary: Sure.
Ray: If you had a chance to, you know, go back and do it all again what advice would you give yourself or what would you do differently if you had a chance too kind of like live it all over again?
Gary: Yeah, I mean other than find Christ sooner, don’t wait until you’re twenty-nine-years-old to find a relationship, right. That’s obviously my biggest regret in life. I always look back on that and think “Gosh,” and I feel bad for my wife. I truly believe that God brought us together and my wife is an extremely patient person she waited a long time, twenty-nine years for me to become mature enough to actually be married. So, she was out there and she just knew that God had somebody for her and she just had the patience to wait and wait. God was watching me and going “You’ve got to grow up, I’ve got this person for you, but you have to grow up before I introduce you. So, I really truly believe, in fact, the moment I became a believer I met my wife and I thought I’d become a believer when I was twenty or fifteen or sixteen, I would have probably met my wife. So, I praise God for her and her doing that. Just as far as advice goes, if you are listening to this podcast I’m going to believe that you have a relationship with Jesus Christ or maybe even you’re wanting to have a relationship with Christ or have a deeper relationship with Christ. Maybe you’re just walking out. Maybe it’s just the beginning of the time. The thing that I just encourage you to do, if you’re in the workplace is I encourage you to- your job, your career is where God has you, and it’s for God wants you. If you feel like, by all means, you’re being lead to be in the ministry, if you’re being lead to be in the church by all means of God’s calling you into that, go. But, I would say a lot of people- there are only so many jobs that are in there, and all of us have jobs in the workplace, and I believed the lie for a really long time that you can not- if you’re going to serve God you’re going to have to do it in the church, I got to be on a mission or I have to make a bunch of money and donate it to those causes, and it wasn’t until 2006 that I realized that the business itself, my work is actually my ministry. People that I interact with on an everyday basis, that all of us interactive people on an everyday basis that don’t know the real Gospel, That’s your mission field and I encourage you to be bold and walk into that mission filed. Because if I hadn’t have heard that, listened to that podcast, I don’t think I would have said yes to becoming President of Let’s Play Sports when someone offered that position to me. I probably would have passed it because I just saw the work involved in the previous founders, you know, family, relationships, and those sorts of things. I didn’t think that was someplace I wanted to go, but once I realized that this mission, that I’m on, I’m on a mission, I’m not in Africa, you know, I’m not in South America, I’m right here in the United States and there are so many people that are in just so much pain that are inside of our organizations on an everyday basis and I just say “Be bold and share with them the good news.” because they’ll love you for it, they’ll love you for it. When they come to believe, once they came to believe, I think it’s just going to be amazing. So, that’s my advice, grow where you’re planted basically.
Ray: I think that’s absolutely incredible, and you know as I was listening to you share that answer, you know, talking about that question. It was in 2006 that you were listening to a podcast, much like this one I’m sure, and you heard somebody revile to you this amazing new truth for you and that their mission field was, in fact, right where God had them. Who knows, Gary, maybe right now, there’s many individuals listening to this conversation, and here you are twelve years later a chance to convey that very same message on, so thank you for that. That’s good stuff. That’s great stuff yeah.
Gary: That’s awesome, that context is really great. Yeah, that’s the first time that I thought about that I’m in a podcast right now and someone could be listening. Isn’t that just like God? Isn’t that just His personality?
Ray: It really is.
Gary: That’s so cool.
Ray: It really is. So, as you look back, you know, you’ve been in business for a long time now and if you could go back to that first year being in business what would you wish that someone had told you about being in business? What surprised you? What advice do you wish that someone would have gave you that first year being in business?
Gary: Oh, gosh. You know, I wish- leadership is a lonely gig, right? Like I always tell people that I’m president of this company, it’s a good gig if you can get it right? I’m connected to my friend, But there’s definitely some loneliness up at the top. That’s a real thing because, you know, especially my organization, everybody that I’m connected to, almost all of my friends are connected to this organization. In some way, they are shareholders. They’re employees. It is just kind of my network, people that are connected to this company. It was probably the most amazing thing that I would recommend anybody to do is to joint some sort of advisory board, like a Truth at Work or something similar to that.
Ray: Sure.
Gary: Because being in any position you need to have people that are not connected to what it is that you are doing but that are connected to you. You’ll also get to hang around with some really super smart people that understand what you’re going through and they’re there to support you they don’t have an agenda or anything like that so I wished someone would have introduced me to this kind of concept of an advisory board sooner. I thought I had to do it on my own, and I was trying to do that, and it was hard. It was really hard and now to know that there are other people out there that are like-minded that are seeking to bring God into the workplace and share the faith it’s just encouraging and to get that kind of advice, like I said, that Godly counsel that I received on my hardest decisions. That was the board that was giving me that information, that’s where I got my Godly counsel was from my board. So, be on a board with other believers.
Ray: That’s incredible, and for the record, I did not put Gary up to that, I did not pay him an endorsement fee.
Gary: No, he didn’t.
Ray: Of being in a group like Truth at Work roundtable. It’s just he speaking from his own experience and his own value that he’s had in this journey. So, Gary, it’s hard to believe that we down towards the end of our conversation here. First of all thank you so much for joining us here at Bottom Line Faith. It really has been a lot of fun, it’s been an honor, so I want to say thank you for investing in us today.
Gary: It’s been my pleasure.
Ray: And so, I’ve got one more question if you’re ready?
Gary: Okay.
Ray: And Gary we call this our 4:23 question here at Bottom Line Faith. It’s based out of Proverbs chapter 4 verse 23, where Solomon writes, “Above all else guard your heart for from it flows all of life.” Gary, I want you to take just a moment and fast forward to the – you talked earlier about how precious time is. Let’s just fast forward to the end of your journey this side of eternity, and you have a chance to gather your family, your friends, your loved ones, those that are most precious to you and I want you to fill in the blank. What is the most important piece of advice that you could pass along as we conclude our conversation? Fill in the blank for us, above all else…
Gary: I would say above all else I would encourage everyone to build and nurture relationships. Because just like I said earlier, I truly believe relationships are the currency of Heaven. But that would be it.
Ray: That is straight to the point, and you have reiterated that two or three times and I’m going to say it one more time. Relationships are the currency of Heaven. Jesus came back to this earth to restore relationships between us and God. So, Gary, thank you for that, that’s a spot on reminder of the most important advice. Gary, one more time if folks want to learn more about you or the company what’s the best place for them to visit online?
Gary: Yeah, if that want online, or interested in playing or maybe even wanting to work with us, or joining the organization. You can go to www.Letsplaysoccer.Com. If you want to reach out directly, you can do that to me. My email address is archerg@letsplaysoccer.Com, that’s archerg@letsplayersoccer.Com. So if there’s something you want to reach out to me directly for I’m happy to answer your email.
Ray: That’s fantastic. Once again Gary thanks for joining us on today’s program. Folks this has been another episode of Bottom Line Faith. Just as we wind down on today’s program a couple of reminders and encouragement back to you. Gary has talked about in our conversation today about the importance of this advisory group concept. To not walk through this journey of leadership isolated and alone. We’d love to encourage you to check out True at Work. We are the hosts Ministry of the Bottom Line Faith program. So, go to truthatwork.Org you can click on there and learn about roundtables that are in cities and towns all across the country, check that out at truthatwork.Org. We get asked quite a bit, I was out having dinner just night with a friend of mine, and he says, “You know, Ray, I’m excited about this Bottom Line Faith program. What is something that I as an individual can help the program succeed?” well folks, here’s the answer to that question. Go online and give us a review, the more reviews that we get around conversations like what we just had with Gary, the better it positions us online in search engines and exposure and so forth. So, please, please, please, take just a couple of moments, give us a review on today’s program or any of the programs that you have listened to there. That’s how you can be a blessing here at Bottom Line Fait. We as so blessed, so grateful that you’ve joined us today and until next time I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith, Ray Hilbert, encouraging you to faithfully serve the Lord each and every day in the marketplace. God bless, and we will see you next time.