Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Once upon a time there was a young man who learned the art of the deal. He realized that a good real estate deal could reap so many financial benefits in so many ways that he built a lucrative empire on this understanding. He bought properties steeped in equity and then pulled out all the surplus cash and either lent it out to other real estate investors, or bought other deals ripe with equity. This strategy worked really well until the housing bubble burst and with it his dreams of grandeur. He learned a few huge life-lessons in the crash: 1.) Don’t overextend yourself, and 2.) Don’t work solely for the almighty dollar.
This is a true story… It is my story. When I first started buying and selling real estate, I was driven by an insatiable desire for palatial homes, lots of toys, and big bank accounts. When I lost it all, I realized I wasn’t fulfilled by my previous motivations. Even though I had everything before the crash, I became nothing without it. It was a very hard lesson, but an extremely valuable one.
As Timothy Keller says in this summer’s reading selection, Every Good Endeavor, “If the point of work is to serve and exalt ourselves, then our work inevitably becomes less about the work and more about us. Our aggressiveness will eventually become abuse, our drive will become burnout, and our self-sufficiency will become self-loathing. But if the purpose of work is to serve and exalt something beyond ourselves, then we actually have a better reason to deploy our talent, ambition, and entrepreneurial vigor – and we are more likely to be successful in the long run, even by the world’s definition.” Although I realized my work meant nothing, going forward, I could change that. If I did good, no matter how much I made or lost, my life would mean something.
After that epiphany, I found that my work took on a different tenor. Instead of working for myself, I built a company centered on the idea that only through doing well for others, could we do well for ourselves. It’s something my staff and I say each and every Tuesday at our staff huddle, “I will do what I ought to do, when I ought to do, no debate, and everything I do will be for my family and our clients.” Suddenly my work, and my staff’s work, was fueled and empowered by our service to others and to God.
Keller says it this way, “We are not to choose jobs and conduct our work to fulfill ourselves and accrue power, for being called by God to do something is empowering enough.”
I still work in real estate, but I make sure, as a company, we conduct ourselves in a far more conservative, well-meaning manner. My motivation is to make sure that everything we do is for each other, our families, and our clients, and when we do that, we can’t help but do a well and truly enjoy it.