Missional Man Podcast
Tools for the modern Christian man.

Ep#016: Radford Harrell, Entrepreneur Identity


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Summary & Intro

radfordharrell

Spotlight: Radford Harrell

“Rad” (as he often signs his emails) is a passionate and fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ, a husband, dad (of 3 kids), elder and executive pastor at Community Bible Church in lovely Savannah, Georgia, a startup guy, a Lean Startup evangelist, entrepreneur, business owner, community organizer, a No-B.S. adviser and mentor and a guy I trust when it comes to proper balanced perspectives on the collision of the business and spiritual world.


 

Synopsis

How do we make sure our identity as entrepreneurs and business-minded men doesn’t come from what we do and how well we do it? How do we process the collision of the business and spiritual worlds? How do we navigate faith in a culture of wars and voices telling us who we are? How do we process success and failure? Where do we find true hope? Our identity is not in the creative work of our hands but in the hands of the Creator and His work on our behalf.

*Referenced in my intro but not he interview: My Fast Pitch presentation about the award-winning mobile app company I launched in 2014! See the pitch that helped us win the whole competition: Lokal (Go Local – a local event app)


 


 

*The following are my favorite top quotes from Radford and I. Use them freely and widely, but please offer credit where credit is due. Thanks.

I’ve been an expert at failing or as Edison said “learning what not to do”.

I would read enough of the Bible to shut up Christians who were proselytizing.

For the first time in my life I heard the story of Christ in the OT and NT. And it floored me, both cerebrally and spiritually.

The guy who married my wife and I was a bench chemist and pastor. I woke up to Jesus in April of 2000. God knew that’s who I needed to hear the Gospel from.

My mom left my brother and I when I was 7. She stole me from my dad and didn’t have custody yet. Flew back when I was 9 and checked me out of school and took me states away. Growing up with a single working mom was a struggle. All of the junk comes with that lack of a father figure during the crucial moments of a boys’ life. It dramatically shaped what I found my identity in.

2 Things: 1. I placed a significance on the girl I was dating. It was a smokescreen for me to hide behind. 2. I was a reasonably smart guy and I think I began weaving more of that into my identity in how I presented myself to the world. Because it got me ahead and gave me a prideful position.

Ultimately it was about devaluing others and valuing myself.

My wife’s grandfather, a wise godly 75-year-old man, began poking holes in my facade. How he treated his wife. How he loved others. How he handled getting frustrated or upset. He had a peaceful strength. There’s something about a man who’s on fire for the Lord and knows himself that is provocative.

It’s painful at first but it’s really good when those walls start to come down. (Jonathan)

“Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the human heart.” – Albert Mohler

My pride and fear of being discovered as a weak, frightened young men aided in constructing this facade of necessity. At the end of the day, that’s secularism at it’s finest.

In the business world and entrepreneurial mindset, it’s really easy for metrics to supplant your own personal value system.

For entrepreneurs who are believers, it’s really easy to get swept up into that culture. And you think not only am I being changed but I’ve also lost opportunities to disciple people and minister the gospel.

Authentic living: I really can’t stand Christian buzz words. Every culture develops their own nomenclature lingo. Authentic though is such an appropriate word for what Christ calls us into. We tend to make it fairly complex. Especially in the entrepreneurial world where we talk about product, conversion, etc.

The tendency is to find our identity on what we do rather than who God says we are. (Jonathan)

I don’t think American Christians pray enough. Again and again prayer is a focal point to the launch of something. In practical terms, I want to be on my face more. I think that’s the first step to guarding against this encroachment of letting the world define me.

When I look at my younger, unbelieving self and see the immaturity and narcissism and all the destruction I wrought and created; it’s easy for me to see it in the modern age.

I’m regularly thinking about how or why I’m making decisions.

Christian maturity: you gain a lot when you realize how simple it is. Jesus said his yoke is light. It’s not hard but it’s not easy.

I’m 12 feet tall and bulletproof.

There’s a tendency in the kingdom of being an entrepreneur to be pushed into an avenue where you are constantly introspective: I’m looking to myself for creativity, passion, ideas, motivation, energy. But in the Christian kingdom we’re called to wild opposites: deny yourself, take up your cross, die to self, etc. How do you reconcile the tension between the two? (Jonathan)

The business world is responding to what are really Christian values: honor what you say, treat people well, it is about a fair wage for good work, it is about loving your neighbor. On and on it comes back to being really careful about the influence your care group has over you.

Everything is packaged a certain way. Wrapped in a spiritual lens or a Christian box and gift wrapped. (Jonathan)

We’ve been sold the idea that there is such a thing as neutral media or unbiased media. Nothing could be further than the truth. Everything, except the Bible, is carrying a message that is diametrically opposed to the truth of God. A lot of it is subtle but in the end often subtly wins. Everything is agenda-driven. There are no more facts or reality. It’s all shaped to elicit a specific response.

A word and concept that’s been important and a huge part of my freedom as an entrepreneur: that is the pace of life. Time is such an important commodity. The reality is a lot of people, the vast majority of business people turn over the control and pace of their life over to others. And the media drives that. For you to spend 30-45 minutes in front of the t.v. is time you’ll never get back.

Like so many things, when you stop consuming it regularly you begin to think through why you ever spent that much time in the first place. I’m a voracious consumer and have had to literally go on reading fasts. That’s been a big part of refining my identity. Shedding the sources that move me in a direction I don’t want to go. Or consuming things that do add meaning to my life.

It’s really easy to spot a wolf when you’ve been one. Or to spot a frightened shell of a person when you’ve been inside your own shell.

We are built to glorify something. Our Lord wants it to be Him.

In so many ways the draw of celebrity, glamour, pastor, hollywood, movie star, billionaire, playboy, rock-star pastor or rock-star entrepreneur that so supports the idea of the existence of God in my mind that I have a hard time understanding how someone suggests they are a legitimate atheist. We have so many shared flaws that couldn’t possibly be random. The draw toward this pretend success point back to our need of Christ and love for our Creator. To be in communion with our God.

Story of Losing His Brother and Being Fired at Same Time

The grace of God got me fired and six weeks later my brother died of lukemia. I was lucky enough to be loved so much that God would do two things: 1) he would blow up my constructed identity to show me how weak I was and 2) he would allow me to spend the last week with my brother which was the sweetest time I’ve ever had with my brother. I would have missed that time.

“Nothing is out of bounds when God wants to get your attention.” – Andy Stanley, 2003

This was the first time I saw the grandeur of God as compared to this grain of sand which was my life. It peeled back the layer and was really raw. I got to the point where I stopped caring about what people thought of me.

At the end of the day, “they can’t eat you.” This keeps your perspective in that it’s just money and stuff.

The rest Jesus offers is key. (Jonathan)

“We’re all going to the same place I’m just going to get there ahead of you.” Rad’s brother and his perspective of going to see Jesus.

He wants good for us. Even when things are hard in God’s economy they are still good if we are faithful. In that obedience He wants goodness for His kids and ultimately the good of mankind.

We continue because we have hope.

For entrepreneurs it’s really just a marathon. It’s about outlasting other people. 90% of success is just showing up. It’s not event-based or location-based, it’s the life path you are choosing.

One of the keys to being a peaceful and persistent entrepreneur is going back to that guidepost of your identity.

 


 

1 TA (One Take-away for YOU to think about)

First of all, if you don’t know the gift of salvation in Jesus you have to get on board.

Next, the pace of life: how you spend your free time, consumption time, visual/audio media and peer influence. You’ve got to develop a filter for benefit VS. influence and agenda. Think about the pace of your life and the speed at which you are moving. Start evaluating where the pressure is coming from. Be aware of it. Filter things through this lens of “am I controlling the next few hours” vs. “am I being controlled?” It’s a huge component of peace through our day.

1 AI (One action-item for YOU to go do)

An AUDIT of where are you getting your information and how often are you consuming it?

Media? News? Magazines? It’s an assessment of what you are consuming, how much, when, etc. You have to understand the sources and density of those messages.

Example of Audit from Radford: At one point I had 20-30 blogs that I subscribed to and read. It was really sort of brain porn, intellectual porn. I was consuming it like a monster. Eventually a friend of mine convicted me of it. How much of my day I was consuming was like 4 hours/day. Practically I went on a fast. Was very careful to read for value and relevance.

For 30 days I did this and I found my productivity went up, my conversations got better. After 30 days I didn’t miss it.

So to recap:

Go on a media consumption fast at least online. Stop reading and see what you can do with that time. We didn’t have t.v. for 3-5 years during our marriage. Cut the cord. See what happens.


Connect…

Radford on LinkedIn

Google Me

Talent Soup

Radford on Savannah, GA Meetup for Lean Startups


 

Resources

Rabbi Lapin – “Thou Shalt Prosper” (outlines why the Jews as a whole have so much wealth in the world)

Lean Startup – Eric Ries

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