I grew up in NJ, going to church yet resisting the pull of faith until I was much older.
It was that scientific and logical part off my brain that resisted faith, if it did not have a concrete and tangible explanation confirmed by scientific instruments I refused to even look at it. Yet all around me there were clear signs of faith.
I was in Chic-Fil-A with my family and on the counter they had a display of books written by company founder Truett Cathy. I purchased How Did You Do It, Truett? , a small volume that I sat down and read cover to cover that night. The book is an autobiographical account of how Cathy grew his billion dollar fast food chain, throughout the book he harkens back to his faith, and how that faith was the cornerstone of his success. Truett Cathy recently passed away at 93 years old, and he never knew I existed, yet his little book had a positive impact on my life.
As I read other books on leadership and success principles the subject of faith kept appearing over and over again, from 20th century writers like George Clason and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale to modern authors such as Dave Ramsey, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady.
There are many other writers who mention faith, in every generation of success literature going back the last 200 years. Even in my personal life there were many Christians whom I looked up to and respected. My friend John Negley, whom I met in Rotary, he’s been married 40 years and he’s not only a man of faith but also one of profound humility. My mother Deborah also had an influence on my faith, not only in our many conversations but in the way she leads her life and has a positive influence all around her.
From my perspective as a skeptic and a non-believer it was hard to deny that all these successful authors over the last century were wrong, hard to believe that John Negley and Deborah Alexander were not onto something.
There must be SOMETHING about Faith that I was missing!
At the same time I had never heard of a single writer or leader who taught that atheism was at the center of their success, there are a few historical figures who’ve renounced faith, like Josef Stalin, but I hardly wanted to model my career path after Stalin!
While I was questioning my inner beliefs I was also going through significant challenges in my business as well as my personal life, the weight of my problems felt unbearable and I had no idea what I was going to do. I turned to Randy Crain, one of the leaders in my business. Randy asked me if I would pray with him, and this is the prayer that Randy taught me that day:
“Dear God, come into my heart and forgive me my sins, I need your wisdom, your guidance and your love. Help me to bear these burdens, I put myself in your hands, Amen.”
As I repeated those simple words I felt the tectonic plates shift within myself and I began to cry, it welled up from somewhere deep inside of me because I knew that I needed God, I needed Him to wash through me and clean out all the muck and the mud that we all accumulate as sinners. The challenges that I had been facing felt lighter, and I began to have hope again. The tears that I shed felt cathartic, my breathing changed, and I felt that my life had turned a corner.
If you have burdens within yourself I would encourage you to try Randy’s simple prayer, there is no scientific instrument that can measure what it will do within you, but if you repeat that prayer every single day you will feel a change within yourself, you will find a deeper sense of humility, and whatever challenges you face will get lighter because you have placed them in far stronger hands.
I have no logical or scientific explanation that can measure my faith as it stands right now, I just know that it is a comfort and a source of peace within myself. I am not perfect, none of us are, and my walk through faith is just as rocky and difficult as a steep path up the side of a high mountain. The important part is to keep climbing that path, even when it gets difficult, even when you feel you might slip off and slide into the abyss, because each step takes you a little farther, a little higher, and a little bit closer to God.
The only person who can bring you to faith is YOU, so if you are not fully there yet you should continue to read, learn and seek wisdom. It took me until the end of my third decade to finally realize what I had been missing all along.
I hope you find it before that!
(the picture above is me and my wife Rachel)
Benjamin T. Alexander
September 15, 2014