Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Call of God Is As Much on the Businessman as It is the Preacher

Jeff Sandefer spoke at Emmanuel, Enid this past Sunday at all of our morning worship services and a special brunch for our graduating seniors. Jeff is the President of The Acton School of Business and he and his faculty teach using the Socratic method. The staff is forbidden from making declarative statements and must teach through asking questions of the students, allowing discovering to occur through a process of reasoning.

Jeff created his first business at the age of 16 and with the profits, paid his way through college. Now 49 years of age, Jeff sold his last business, a corporation with several billion dollars worth of assets, and made more money than any man would need in multiple lifetimes. Yet, Jeff told our church that the only thing that will really fulfill a man or a woman is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He said that if a person's goal is to win the rat race of making more money than everyone else, when they win the race, they still remain a rat.

The counsel Jeff gave our graduating seniors was some of the finest advice I've ever heard given young people. Jeff told them that rather than being concerned about "making money," they should find their "calling" in life. Their calling is discovered by asking three questions:

(1). What gifts or skills do I have, granted me by God's grace, that set me apart from others?

Jeff suggested that the students ask three individuals this question. He said that at Acton, professors discover that when their students ask three signficant people in their lives this question, all three will usually give the same answer. This is a surefire way to disover one's gifts.

(2). What is it that I do that brings me joy? More specifically, is there something that I spend time doing that causes me to lose track of time because I enjoy it so much?

Jeff called the quick passage of time doing those things you love or bring joy to you life "flow." Others might call it passion. Jeff said that "calling" involves discovering your gifts and skills, matching those with tasks that create joy in your life, and then asking ...

(3). Is there a need in society that is met by what I do?

Jeff said that when you find a need in society that is met by something you do, which also brings you joy, you have found a "calling." For Jeff, that calling is to educate students on the importance of freedoms in economics, politics and religion. His passion is creating and growing businesses and teaching others how to do the same thing. He derives tremendous joy from his "calling."

I couldn't help but think that "calling," as defined by the President of one of the premier business schools in America, is very similar to the "calling" that preachers receive. In other words, could it be that all Christians--not just preachers--receive "a call" from God?

I think so.


Aussie John said...


"In other words, could it be that the all Christians receive "a call" from God, not just preachers?'


Rex Ray said...

I believe this post will not create much ‘controversy’ but will be rated one of your more helpful and thoughtful ones.

The questions of Jeff Sandefer apply to all and all ages.

Pege' said...

Wade, sounded like a speech I wish I could have been present for. Wish I knew these three points 30 years ago. Is there an age limit to these? Still looking for the answers at 48.I agree that PAstors are not the only ones called to a purpose. God needs his people in every area of life and society. His gifts are truely to be used in the church and in every day life. How myopic are we are as believers not to see the impact we have in every area of society by using the unique qualities God has placed within us. Why do we honor up Preachers and Missionaries more than the police officers, JAnitors, Nurses, home makers and teachers...all are doing Gods work.

Bob Cleveland said...

If we believe that God has a specific will for each person, that we really do serve a personal God, then we could scarcely view it any other way, could we? And if that's the case, then every job is a called by God, as any other.

I know I always viewed my career as a calling, and I got more than enough affirmation from my clients .. most of whom were believers (although that just sort of "happened", and my faith was not part of my "sales presentation" .. that I know without a doubt that I was called to what I did.

Anonymous said...


As to your last question, I am not sure the Socratic method is required in this case as it can be assumed that your readership understands that all Christians have a calling in Christ. Certainly the calling of business man to proclaim Christ is a great thing but this is nothing new to us.

I would also like to comment on the "be all that you can be in Christ" mentality that seems to be prevalent in the juxtaposition of the business and Christian worlds. For to me, the calling of Christ on many would seem almost the opposite. "Be as content as you can be" with the little God has given. "Show my glory by being happy with a little and using it not for the "great" (man's adjective) but rather for the sake of obedience. (God's favorite noun)

Lastly to the Socratic method--it is just that: A Method. A method amongst many. Teaching methods are weak when used alone. This is fundamental perspective of education. No one method can be employed for the greater good of the teacher, the pupil, or for the advancement of knowledge in general. A great teacher will employ multiple methods while understanding the diverse needs of their students. The problem with direct instruction and the presentation models is that few students have the tenacity to pay attention. Likewise the problem with the Socratic method is that few teachers have the tenacity to keep up with students' tangential responses.

Oddly enough I have been pondering lately the idea of the statement: "I'm just asking questions." We see this is politics, religion, and other venues of modern thought. I believe one is responsible for the thought redirect one brings by "just asking questions." This cannot be considered a cop-out for the real problems associated with foolish transformative knowledge. If we are going to ask the question, we need to know the answer. If life is a test, and I ask everyone else for the answers, then I am a cheat. No?


Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie Kaufman said...

So Amy do you believe God calls us to things that we wouldn't be delighted in doing? When we are delighted in what we do we do it with passion.

Anonymous said...

"Now 49 years of age, Jeff sold his last business, a corporation with several billion dollars worth of assets, and made more money than any man would need in multiple lifetimes."

There are 2 groups of people who pay when a business is sold.
The Employees - by cuts
The Customers - by less service and/or higher prices

Why would a "Christian" Businessman turn the company that employees had a hand in building and heap all that monies for himself. Sounds a bit self centered and selfish to me.

"Now here’s one you won’t read every day: This week Bob Moore, owner of the internationally known Bob’s Red Mill Natural Food store based in Milwaukie, Oregon gave the whole business to his 209 employees at his 81st birthday party."

Lydia said...

Kevin, My dad used this method on us all the time. Question was posed and we had to discover the answer using only facts, logic/reason with a persuasive argument if no facts were available.

It is amazing what one learns through the discovery process. A sample question: Were the Bill of Rights really necessary?

We want to answer yes but that is forbidden. One must make the case. In order to do that one has to research what happened and why it happened. There are good arguments on both sides. And in the end, the thing was not going to pass without them.

It is a shame this method is lost. It was used when my dad was in college.

It cannot be used today because there is little foundational knowledge to build on and students do not know how to study one subject or question in depth. Everyone has ADD.

BTW: I would prefer to see more "called" business people than more pastors.

Tom Kelley said...

Anonymous Mon May 24, 07:59:00 PM 2010 said...

There are 2 groups of people who pay when a business is sold.
The Employees - by cuts
The Customers - by less service and/or higher prices

Not really. There's no reason any jobs have to be lost, that prices have to increase, or service has to decrease when a business is sold.

Why would a "Christian" Businessman turn the company that employees had a hand in building and heap all that monies for himself. Sounds a bit self centered and selfish to me.

Seriously? Who said that he was heaping money to himself, just because he made a profit from his investment, labor, and property? Ever hear of free market capitalism, private property ownership, and personal liberty? It's the economic and political system most compatible with Christian doctrine and practice thus far invented on earth.

Perhaps you'd prefer socialism or fascism, like certain persons currently in political power in Washington?


Anonymous said...


I love that a Christian businessman is the one who is advocating this type of learning. And a successful one at that. I teach the gifted and talented here in Texas, and ten years ago taught the same in Florida. This type of teaching is a staple in our teaching methods for these kids. When we were developing curriculum for them, we always said every child should be taught in this method. It is such a deeper type of learning. It develops critical thinking, and allows a child to question, to look for information and make informed decisions.

I really think as Christians as a whole, we have pulled ourselves into confined Christian communities: home school, Christian schools, Bible Colleges, so that a large portion of Christian students are not going out into the world becoming Christian community leaders and influencers, but are instead going into ministry. Ministry is GREAT, and there are many that are doing marvelous things through ministry. However, I often find myself wondering what our country would be like if we had MORE Christian lawyers, teachers, bankers, realtors, etc. who were working out their occupational passions IN the world, but not OF it.

I do believe God calls lay people just as much as he calls Pastors.


Rex Ray said...

Did I say this post would not create much controversy? Oops.

I see two sides of a Christian making a billion dollars from his ideas and the work of others even though they were paid a fair wage.

I like the story of Bob Moore giving his company to his employees. With that in mind here are three stories:

1. Once, a man was enthused in finding oil on a certain project. So much so he ‘pushed’ his friends into buying stock – even his mother. It turned out to be a dry hole. He felt so bad he paid their investment with stock he owned in another company.

2. A man acquired land and had it for many years. Others had built a fence in the wrong location. A widow sold her joining land. With a survey, the buyer tried to build a fence through the man’s barn. The man won in court and kept his barn and land. The man tried to pay the widow for the land she had ‘lost’, but she refused to take the money because her lawyer said her contract with the buyer could get her sued if she sold any land to anyone else.
So what would you do? The man gave the money to his church.

3. A man had several business and made a lot of money. But one business was always a failure even though its employees worked hard. Was it right they never got a raise?

Bob Cleveland said...


And if He called me to do my job, then He called me to the same level of performance and honesty and zeal and energy, as that to which He calls pastors.

That was always my goal in my working career, not for Spiritual reasons (initially), as that's just the way I was raised. I sure worked...

Jay Fleming said...

It seems to me that this general idea is getting through to quite a few (middle and upper class) kids today, with a rather interesting side effect. Many of the ones I know are to an extent paralyzed as they try to decide what they are passionate about. They start college, complete the basics and then find themselves stuck at a crossroads.

I compare that to many I have pastored from the 'greatest generation' who had challenges thrust upon them by the deprivation of the Great Depression and the urgency of WWII... things they would not have chosen for themselves in a million years. And I have found much more contentment among them than children of the sixties or later.

I think of this as the 'It's A Wonderful Life' effect. The greatest satisfaction seems to be found not by a search for what will engage one's passion and maximize their joy, but in an almost-after-the-fact realization that others have been blessed by one's life work.

Bob Cleveland said...


My last comment's last sentence should have read "It sure worked...."

Anonymous said...

So maybe preachers should stop with the declarative statements and start asking questions too.

Anonymous said...

Tom Kelley said...
"Seriously? Who said that he was heaping money to himself, just because he made a profit from his investment, labor, and property?"

Maybe you should research this guy before you make him a saint...


"Three times a week he takes yoga lessons at his office. And he's still very much involved in business via Sandefer Capital, whose investors include the Ziff brothers. Its latest coup: lending $34 million to the struggling operators of Southern Pacific Petroleum, Australia's largest shale-oil project; when SPP couldn't pay, Sandefer shoved it into bankruptcy, seizing assets into which giants like Exxon and Suncor had already poured $500 million.

Sandefer may protest that the money is secondary. But it's awfully nice to have when it comes to indulgences like starting a school."


"From the moment the desperate board took a $31 million loan from the Ziffs in May last year, their New York rescuers had held all the cards.

Not that any investors - other than those on the board - knew it. The Ziffs were nothing if not publicity shy. When they made their SPP investment via a bond which could be converted into a 42 per cent stake in SPP, it was hidden deep within a web of companies, including some domiciled in the Cayman Islands.

"If we had known it was the Ziffs, we would never have voted for the deal," says one irate investor. "Those New Yorkers are so hard-nosed, they're just there to rape companies."

For all intents and purposes, shareholders believed - and documents show - that the saviour of the cash-strapped SPP in May last year was a fellow called Jeff Sandefer.

Sandefer is a Texan oilman of some pedigree. His grandfather helped found the Breckenridge oilfield in Texas. He is apparently civic-minded, and his Austin offices reputedly boast a yoga room.

Apart from successfully investing his own funds after building his own oil company, Sandefer Offshore, he also invests on behalf of some of America's richest families, and spends a large part of his time lecturing in various academic institutions."

Sounds more like the Merchant of Venice...or even one of those Mega Church Preachers.

Is it any wonder we currently have a "little" problem in the Gulf of Mexico


hardly a Christian Virtue... said...


Jeff flew to Enid on his private jet, charged not one dime to our church for his expenses, when I went to pay him the typical fee we pay for guest speakers, he asked that it be given to our orphanage work in India.

In almost 20 years of pastoring, Jeff Sandefer cost our church less, and said more, than anyone we've ever had.

So, it's fine for you to anonmously assert he struggles with greed--I'm not sure that Jeff Sandefer would disagree with you--but know that from my personal experience, Jeff Sandefer is concerned that others in ministry be funded for their work in expanding the kingdom of Christ.

If folks like Jeff didn't know the Lord, folks like Dr. Cyril who runs and orphanage and school in India for our church wouldn't be able to minister.

wade said...

And by the way, anonymous, if you happened to listen to the talk you would hear Jeff say that he is NOT a saint--far from it. He is a sinner with clay feet who has met the one true God who loves sinners--Jesus Christ.

Ramesh said...

Three times a week he takes yoga lessons at his office.

Terrific. I take two Yoga lessons per week. Doing Yoga has improved my health. Remember Yoga is more about breathing and focus of consciousness in the various parts of the body than just doing physical exercise.

I have listened twice to Q&A of Jeff Sandefer from Emmanuel website. He is an engaging speaker.

Anonymous said...

This is the nicest post! Before I married, our pastor preached a wonderful sermon about how our work mattered to God. He made many of the same points that are made in this post, and how everything we do is worship unto God.

My father was so moved, my mother told me later he wept after we returned home. He was a land surveyor, but he was such a strong witness to doing things the right way for the right reasons in so many areas of his life.

Whatever we do in word or deed...

Let your light so shine before men...

You'd all better know the rest!

Tom Kelley said...

Anon Wed May 26, 12:36:00 AM 2010:

I read the links you provided. They demonstrate the virtue of freedom and the strength of free-market capitalism. It's sad that you can't see it, but chose instead to vilify those who honorably profit from their hard work, business sense, and willingness to take risks with their resources.

And I that that answers my questions -- apparently, yes, you would prefer socialism and fascism. Such ideas are a far, far greater danger to our republic than the current oil leak problem in the Gulf of Mexico.


Anonymous said...

Wade Burleson said...

"If folks like Jeff didn't know the Lord, folks like Dr. Cyril who runs and orphanage and school in India for our church wouldn't be able to minister."

= The Ends justifies the means

"...if I have cheated anybody out of anything I will pay back four times the amount.” Luke 19:8

Apparently the Word of God indicates that the monies are to be paid back to those it was taken from wrongfully not some little church in Enid Ok (in order to ease the conscience..)

"He is a sinner with clay feet..."

Jeff may have clay feet , but sure enjoys wearing those Very Expensive Shoes.

"In almost 20 years of pastoring, Jeff Sandefer cost our church less, and said more, than anyone we've ever had."

You may want to re evaluate your methods for bring in speakers, as it seems you've been wasting God's money.

Bernard Madoff was also a "generous" man, what does his slight of hand make him?

Mr Nasi also described Madoff’s kinder side – attending funerals of staff member’s families
and giving Mr Nasi, who admits he was on the lowest rung of the employee ladder, a $5,000 bonus one Easter.

Pastor Jeff Haney from Corinth,MS made these same kind of:

"I have hosted Steve Gaines at my church, and enjoyed some private
conversation and a meal with him. And I will say this as fact and
let it speak for itself. He left here refusing our funds. He would
not receive our travel reimbursements, or our honorarium for speaking, and had we not prearranged the ticket for dining he would have rejected that as well. So what that boils down to, is that it cost him financially to preach at a Bible Conference that we held.
I will let that speak for itself."


Tom Kelley said...
"...vilify those who honorably profit from their hard work..."

But as one heathen said of Jim's actions "...they're just there to rape companies."

" was hidden deep within a web of companies, including some domiciled in the Cayman Islands."

hardly Jeff Sandefer investing his capital "...he also invests on behalf of some of America's richest families"

His actions = Corporate Thievery,

hardly a

"virtue of freedom and the strength of free-market capitalism" forget being Biblical.

"...apparently, yes, you would prefer socialism and fascism."

It's not what I prefer, its what is happening as "Christian's"
sanction these type of activities in order to justify financing
their (Christian?) Ministries

By the way this another example of how unbridled greed works

"In May 2008, the Home Owners Association sold the Clauers' (a serviceman serving in Iraq) home for a pittance—$3,500—although its appraisal value was $300,000 (for a $800 debit), according to court documents.
The buyer then resold the house to a third person."

Anonymous said...

Dr. Charles Bodie years ago spoke to the BSU week at Ridgecrest. He was one of the most intelligent black theologians I have ever heard.

His analysis of "Calling" was N + A = C:

Need / plus and ability to meet that need / equals Called.

It has served me well through life to my present age 64!

Gene Scarborough -- NC