I don't know whom I should work with. But God does!

Lately, I’ve found myself praying, “Lord, please don’t let this deal close if it’s not the right partner.” 

That’s a BIG departure from where I was a year ago when, somewhat desperate, I wanted every deal to work out. Left to my own discernment, I would currently be contractually bound to people and businesses that are just not a good fit for what I’m building or what I believe in. 

For example…

  • A business run by a guy whose office walls were covered in porn and who implied that he could get around the law. 

  • Another business leader that, by many measures, is the top in the area but with a self-professed penchant for partying hard at the expense of personal relationships. 

  • One woman, a very talented and growing entrepreneur and an excellent fit for what I’m building, had I signed a deal with her, would have damaged relationships I know I need to invest in. 

Now I find myself asking God to confirm who is the right partner. Just because someone has the finances, interest, or even if they look like a good fit in my own mind, it doesn’t mean it’s the right partner for me.

Here’s my checklist to determine how I should proceed:

  1. Is this a business I want to promote? Someone recently told me I should partner with a divorce attorney, so I started to research who was best. Then it hit me, why would I point people that direction when I could instead lead them to a marriage counselor. Given my desire to, whenever possible, see relationships healed and restored, the latter makes more sense. I now screen against what I want to stand for. 

  2. Do the leadership/staff have integrity? One doesn’t have to share my faith, but I hope to see some indication that they operate with values like excellence, customer service, attention to detail, positive messaging. I’ve opted out of working with a few partners due to observed behaviors that are troubling, at best. This is a fine line because I also want to acknowledge that I never have all the facts and people, including me, have bad days. 

  3. What are we each trying to get out of this, and can I help? I try to sense poor motives, like a company trying to make a quick profit or exploit something or someone. I also need to believe that I can help the business get where they want to go through the partnership. No amount of money is worth taking if I know I don’t at least have a shot at delivering high value.  

  4. What does God want me to do? This is most important, and because I’m a man of prayer, I pray over prospective deals. This is a HUGE ‘x-variable’ because at times I have turned away from sales that made sense in every other regard. I don’t always know why I don’t have peace about the deal, but I serve a God whose ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:8), and trust that he wants good for me (Jeremiah 29:11), so I just do it. 

This discernment, practiced on a daily basis, begins to become refined so that sometimes even in the midst of a conversation I get a sense if it’s a fit or not. Other times it will take weeks or months of prayer, listening, and wise counsel. And it doesn’t just work to screen out deals, there are occasions when it doesn’t seem to make sense that I should work with someone, but I feel peace about it and so continue to pursue it.

Ultimately, this way of vetting deals has been challenging, especially since in my current role I’m looking at up to 10 deals a week and completing 2 or 3. However, the quality is improving, and I trust that these are going to be the right partners in the long run. Not to mention, the anxiety of overthinking and overworking deals is fading away as I trust God. And, I’m even celebrating when deals don’t go through, in the world of sales, this is indeed a peace that passes all understanding! 



With one verbal chip after another I work to carve a masterpiece, and sometimes see it crumble before me. My sales pitch is often full to the brim with backstory and key updates (at least to me) on traction gained.

In short, with matters of words, I go long.

Commentary as a means of influence, now full frontal from dawn to dusk in real time across a litany of platforms by (often self professed) leaders, has lured me into the never ending truth-telling conjecture.

To be relevant, the world says, I simply must add my piece. And I have.

I realized recently that all this running at the mouth was affecting my business. Fueled by anxiety over deals I wanted too much, I found myself verbally barraging prospects to make my case.  Further, I prayed fervently for each one to come through. Most didn’t.

Quiet time with God helped me see that my anxiety was fruitless, striving foolish, and that one day’s “unanswered” prayer became the next day’s thanksgiving for sparing me from my own request.  


1. If I can’t discern what deals I need, why am I praying so hard for them?

2. If I know God is going to provide, why am I acting desperate?

3. What does peace look like in my dealings and how do I say less?

The Holy antidote to my loose lips? Drum roll please... the spiritual disciplines have to be there: prayer and fasting, daily scripture reading, and regular fellowship. Also extended prayer around strategic plans, new clients, and major moves. Perhaps a retreat to learn to enjoy silence.

This feels a lot like “the same old answer” to spiritual growth, but has taken on a new importance for me in the launch of my startup. And while I know the enjoyment in hearing myself make a case will not easily take a seat, I already see that growth in my faith should cut down my word count in these very clear ways.

1. Discernment about privacy

 As God gives ground to my business I am entrusted with sensitive information. A misstep erodes hard earned trust. The old adage “loose lips sink ships” is more true every day and I have to ask God to help me “tame my tongue” to, in some cases, literally prevent death and disaster.  

2. Willingness to wait or stop a relationship

Had I crossed paths with the rich young ruler (from Mark Ch. 10) a few months ago, I would gladly have had him back my business. And yet God desires his peace to rule in our heart (Col. 3:15) where the word rule means “umpire.” God should call the shots on every person we hire or have as a client or partner! We enter endless conversations that should not be simply because we forge ahead ignorant of the still small voice telling us to wait, stop, or go another direction.

3. Guarding against exaggeration, manipulation, and lies

Recently, I got a call from a prospect while on the run and heard myself say that another respected business had come on-board even though the deal wasn’t signed. I hung up the phone surprised at my own fast lie and had to repent. No surprise the deal imploded. Now, I closely examine my calls, emails, and pitches looking for dishonesty to root out and make tweaks on a weekly basis.

4. Comfort-ability with silence in conversations

Wisdom in negotiations says that he who speaks first loses and it has been proven that using filler words in a presentation erodes credibility. But how do we find the fortitude to be such a confident, patient negotiator and presenter? I posit that if our walk with the Lord is strong we ought to excel in our ability to be still and silent.

In summary, it’s become clear—the more I talk the less effective I am and it points to a lack of faith in God about my business. Do I truly believe that if I work hard and seek the Lord I am going to have all things provided? If so, my actions and, very importantly, my words (or lack thereof) ought to show it.

Don’t take my word for it...



Originally published on Faith Driven Entrepreneur

Adventures in Faith

How & Why I Blessed My Competitor

Shortly after buying the N2 Publishing franchise for Chadds Ford, PA, I set a meeting with a very cool brand. I pitched a plan for them to be embedded in the "resident generated content" in this affluent "chateau country" and they loved it! I left the meeting elated as this partner would quickly establish credibility for my new magazine.

I called my wife and uttered the words, " went great, if this comes through, it's going to crush the competition."

My wife quickly retorted that she did not like the sound of that. I immediately recognized the great pride and selfish intent that had welled up in me; and I didn't like it one bit.

So began a journey to examine my heart, motives, and how my Christian faith should guide my business. I asked God for forgiveness, asked for a change of heart, and dove into the truths of Scripture, which softened my heart for others, even my competitors.

Then I actually started to pray for them and their businesses by name. As I did, I began to think about their good qualities and the reasons why a customer would want to work with them instead of me. It occurred to me that I could both grow my business and bless theirs.

I soon found myself in a negotiation with a potential customer who, when we got into the details of what they wanted, I realized my competitor was a better fit. When I mentioned this, they were surprised at the suggestion, and very thankful as well.

So I made the introduction--it felt good to do it.

A month passed and I decided to stop by to meet my competitor in person. I was warmly received. My referral had turned into a nice piece of business. Our conversation flowed as we educated each other on our strengths. I also learned that the business owner, this competitor, shared my Christian beliefs, what an eye opener!

Soon after I received an email from my competitor (who now feels more like a friend) sending me a lead. I didn't anticipate that happening!

As I thought about what had occurred, I realized that what we were doing, by being selfless and recognizing the value of the other, this was actually resulting in the best deal for the customer!

What if we all worked like that, what if we genuinely cared about people so much that we took time to know the ecosystem within which we operate our business and could guide customers to the best solution, to the best of our ability, with a desire to be a blessing.

Maybe that's radical, counter-intuitive, or even anti-Capitalist, but I believe it's Biblical. And it has worked well for my business, and given me a great peace about my dealings.

Thank God for teaching me this important lesson!

Originally posted & responding to comments on LinkedIn.

Adventures in Faith

God Spoke to Me Using Soccer Metaphor and It Changed My Life

A "Christian brother" and I fasted for one day and agreed to pray for each others "business," and this is what happened.

This impacted me greatly, as I processed what I heard God say to me so clearly. It opened my eyes to the glut of "training resources" and the shortage of Christians stepping onto the field, so to speak.

What I heard made so much sense that I began to share it to anyone who would listen. I realized that the times where God was speaking most clearly to me was when I was living it out on the field, I was doing something about what He was telling me to do.

I saw a way to help guide people into taking action with their faith, in fact, my job at the time for Cityteam was to do just that! I bought a web doman, set up social media handles, and even started working on a video to capture the message. I wanted it to be perfect so I worked my way into the Major League Soccer (MLS) Earthquakes stadium in San Jose, CA! 

This revelation then led to the creation of a concept to coax people onto the field. Being in Silicon Valley at the time, of course this ended up being conceived as a technology platform with gamification elements to drive outcomes and was communicated in this venture capital (VC) style pitch deck ;)


Soon two others were attracted to this vision, it resonated deeply with what God was telling them to do, and the three of us together set to work to build out a minimum viable product (MVP) of this concept over the course of 90 days. It was an impossible task by any measure, even for a 17 year Apply veteran, and skilled community pastor, and I, but we embraced the reality that if it was God's plan, it would work. Ultimately, we couldn't find a way to solve the problem in a way that would generate revenue and we all got job offers that took us away from the project. 

But what I heard from God on that day stays with me, and I continue to examine whether I am just training more, or if I'm actually on the field with regards to my faith. The pull toward the former is so strong.

In fact, the whole purpose of this blog is to encourage others to step out of their own comfort zone to take practical steps in their faith and their attempts to know God and Jesus.

And, I still have it in my sights to build something to this end--something that provides a trigger point to unleash people into the active practical aspects of their faith. My hope and prayer is that in late 2016 / early 2017, this vision might become realized.

To think that this all came from that vision God gave me in prayer during the World Cup in 2014, it's truly amazing how when we seek God in prayer, He can speak to us and inspire us, that in a single moment of quiet time listening, He can direct in such a rich way so as to literally change the way we think and even the trajectory of our life. 

People Getting It Done

Jack McCall: Fool for Christ

Jack and I first met when I attended a 6:30 am Christians in Commerce Meeting at the San Jose Chapter. I can't recall entirely how it worked out that we ended up grabbing lunch together soon after, but we did. Jack is the refreshing type of believer who lays it all on the table, his shortcomings, his struggles, and mostly, his praise. 

I've come to Jack with some of my own struggles as a result, and he is a rare person in that he shies away from giving advice. He wrote to me once:

"I'm not one to give men advice, because God has assured me that His voice to each heart is far more impacting than any knowledge I may impart. He does use me to speak to folks, but not usually in the way of advice." 

He may share a relevant story, but usually doesn't say "do this or do that." I've found that when I go to Jack, the Holy Spirit moves through him to me in a profound way.

Jack and I have had several such "Holy Spirit exchanges" between us over the past year or so. One such case was a breakout of prayer in the middle of a Denny's restaurant I wrote about here. Most recently, though, the Holy Spirit moved through Jack as he spoke at his wife's funeral. She passed away unexpectedly, after 40+ years, I grieved in my heart for him, and I knew that God would use this difficult trial for his glory. Jack's words were profound, about his failings and love for his wife, it became clear their marriage was a great testimony even to, no, especially in, the last days. 

Jack has a website where he blogs and provides resources online here. I really like his "Appointment with God" outline he has posted online here. As Jack shifts from career as a successful salesman to spend more time in ministry, I expect God is going to do amazing things through him, I know he is going to finish the race running hard. 

People Getting It Done

Peter Kockleman: Kingdom Construction

Peter Kockleman is a man who captures your attention. With tales of his adventures over the years (he set a world record with a 2,000 foot bungee jump from a hot air balloon once), and his matter-of-fact approach to business and life, he's easy to like and listen to. His latest undertaking, the expansion of his business Summit Steel, is one for which he praises his partnership with Cityteam.

"My church group hosted Cityteam guys from the recovery program at a boot camp and while playing football with them, I learned many were looking for work. Even more, they needed someone to believe in them, so I took a chance to hire guys without experience that had to be trained and invested in.

When we hire and care about them, it speaks volumes to them that we haven't written them off and that they matter. Since then, I've hired 20 guys, and 14 are still with us. They show up on time, they're hard workers, they have a peace about them and they haven't failed me; in fact, they've literally build the business in our new location."

Peter hasn't been content to simply hire guys. He personally contributes financially and last year, his company was the top sponsor for Cityteam's Golf Classic at the famed Olympic Club. He teaches the men a course on sexual addiction. And, when he can't hire guys, he helps them find a job, even buying their tools to work in other trades such as carpet laying. He's helped guys find housing, paid the deposit on apartments, and so much more.

Pete adds, "I can honestly say I have been more dramatically impacted than the 20 graduates we have hired over the past two plus years.  I will NEVER write off another human being as being beyond hope since I have witnessed these men die to their former lives and transform into men worthy of honor that God always knew they could be.  God never gave up hope for His creation.  Now I know why!"