Why I decided to walk away from the family business…

 

As the oldest of three sons, I was always the one expected to take over the family business.  It was all I knew.  It was all I had ever pictured as my future…and I was walking away.  After six intense months of reading and studying my Bible and praying, I was certain I had to make a significant change in the direction of my life.

All of my life, I had been working toward taking over my family’s business, an automobile dealership group in Georgia.  I planned to expand it and take it to new heights!  I had visions of grandeur and everything looked like it was headed that way.  But when I began spending time in God’s Word, I realized that everything I wanted and worked for was only temporal.  None of it would really matter in 1,000 years.

I realized I was only giving God the Christian requisite one day per week (actually, just Sunday morning) and an occasional Wednesday evening.  The rest of the time was spent trying to juggle my job in the car business and my family at home.  Even when I added the daily quiet times, God was still not the central focus of my life.  This was not the way He wanted it!

“It was all I had ever pictured as my future…and I was walking away.”

I began searching for answers.  If God wanted all of me, what would that look like?  I had heard of people getting “called” into full-time ministry, but I did not feel that call.  I knew of others “called” into the mission field, but I did not feel that either.  What exactly was God asking me to do? What was I created to do?

To tell the truth, I did not have a clue!  I only knew I was not comfortable with the status quo and had to change it.  I sat down with my father and explained that I was leaving the business.  Because I was already in a significant leadership position within the company, I told him I did not want to do it effective immediately.  I wanted him to have time to replace me and make any other arrangements that may be necessary.  This would likely involve downsizing the business and could take a couple of years.

I did not feel God calling me to leave right away, only to let go and be prepared to walk away.  I had no idea where I was going or when.  I only knew I wanted to be spending more of my time working for God – whatever that entailed.

What would you do?

Do you think this move was too drastic?

Have you done (or thought about doing) something similar?

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  • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

    Summer,

    Thanks! The short answer is that it is now over ten years later and I am doing exactly what I wanted to do with my faith, but I am doing it through the business! I am still running the family business, but in a very different way…as a platform for ministry.

    If you want to get the whole story, dig a little deeper on my blog site. Start here and read my history posts. You can get a very condensed version here in my About the Author page.

    As for what happens from here on, subscribe to my blog by email or RSS. I would love to have your feedback along the way!

    Thanks for reading!

    • Summer

      Thanks Chris!  Just read your post about How God Led A Complete Business Overhaul…. wow.  That isn’t for the faint-hearted businessman.  I greatly admire you.  Coming from a Christian “family business” background in homebuilding, I understand the difficult, profit-suffering choices that sometimes must be made to maintain your integrity.  May God bless you for your efforts ten-fold.  I subscribed.  Thanks for leading by example!

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Thank you so much Summer! I truly appreciate your encouragement and support! I am also excited to have you as a subscriber!

        Please comment along the way. I am looking for feedback as I go. Also, feel free to share with others that you think might benefit or have something to offer the discussion. I am not done until I hear, “Well done!”

        • Summer

          Absolutely.  You’re welcome brother, keep up the good work!  I’m in Marketing so I’m all about spreading good messages.  I recommend employing Twitter to promote your blog and network online – has greatly impacted my blog’s traffic too! 

          Lookin forward to future posts!

          • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

            Thanks! As soon as I learn how to use Twitter, that is next!

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Great reaction to what God is doing in your life.  Looking forwatrd to seeing where he leads from here!

    • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

      Thanks Jeff! That makes two of us!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        :)

  • Angela Hough

    After working in my family’s company for 11 years, I did walk away. The process took over a year to put together the plan and find my replacement. It was one of the scariest leaps I’ve ever made! But, I KNEW God was in it, even though we lost my comfortable salary. There were plenty of times doubt would sneak in, lots of clueless moments. 

    Now six years later I am consulting other Christian business leaders, working with my husband in our Architecture firm, and speaking at Kingdom Business seminars in other countries. God brought me into a larger place indeed!
    Love your blog – I can really relate to the walk you’ve been on. 

    • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

      Thanks for the encouragement, Angela!

      I think it all boils down to this for me…the safest and most productive place I can be is right where God wants me. IF I am willing to follow His lead, whether that means staying in the business or leaving it, then I will be what He designed me to be.

      Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

    I am sorry you feel that way John. Thanks for reading and giving me a shot!

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  • Gmdodaro

    Just getting around to this post, Chris.  It’s a feeling I recognize, and I suspect you have discovered, as I did, that in absence of any clear call to action, one has to make the best of life as a working man.  I tried too, to find a “ministry”.  I completed an MA at Fuller Seminary with the intention of working in the church in some capacity.  But it was not my calling.  I learned a lot, but now I’m working as a technical writer.  Most people don’t go to the church in this part of the country, so maybe my calling is to participate with them in the work they have to do to make a living.  I can’t say I’m an inspirational presence, but I understand and participate.  I also think that is why God became a man in the Incarnation, to participate.

    • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

      Mike, it is probably just semantics, but I think there is a calling to be a “working man” that is just as crucial to the body of Christ as being a paid minister.

      As for your “participation” at work, I think you need to be a light wherever you are. I want to live my life in such a way that people look and say, “Man! I want some of what he has!”

      Eventually, they will ask me for the reason for the hope I have. I will be prepared to answer!

  • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

    Daren, thanks for the comments. I agree with you and prayed about this over an 18 month period before going to my father about leaving. It took me another 18 months for God to show me that He wanted me to stay…under different conditions!

    If you have some time, I would love for you to read through the history posts and give me your feedback on all of it.

    Here is the link…http://christianfaithatwork.com/category/history/

    I also left a reply to your comments at http://michaelhyatt.com

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