The following is an interview betweenIFA Chairman, John Beckett (JB), andIFA President, Gary Bergel (GB). Thisexchange is intended to introduce youto Mr. Beckett's newly published book,LOVING MONDAY: Succeeding InBusiness Without Selling Your Soul.Published in May by InterVarsity Press.
GB: John, you have been involved withIFA from our founding 25 years ago.Now, you've written a business-relatedbook called Loving Monday . Tell us howthis came about.
JB: As you know, Gary, I've been heading up a manufacturingcompany in Ohio for over thirty years. I believeGod has directed me into this business as a callingin the same way He has called you to leadership in theprayer ministry. For most of my career I have tried tointegrate my faith and my work, basing our corporatepractices and policies on biblical principles. The bookis my story - it's about my business journey and what Ihave learned along the way.
GB: Was there a particular event that launched youon this writing project?
JB: Yes, there was. A few years ago the Beckett Corporationwas featured on an ABC News broadcast, "WorldNews Tonight with Peter Jennings." The subject was thegrowing tendency in America for business leaders tohave their faith make an impact on their work. Theprogram hit a responsive chord with its estimated 12million viewers, drawing the largest positive response thenetwork had ever received. Portrayed was the antithesisof a common view of business, that of greed and ungod-liness.Shortly after, I began writing, believing a bookon what we had learned over the years could help others.
GB: Most people of faith I know have their lives segmented,seeing their beliefs and their work as mostlyunrelated.
JB: It's easy to do, but it's not the biblical pattern. Iwas surprised to discover how much the separation ofwork from our beliefs is a legacy of ancient Greek philosophers,originating as early as a thousand years beforeChrist. They had the idea of higher and lower,noble and ignoble - the seedbed for the current distinctionbetween "sacred" and "secular." But the NewTestament tells us those distinctions were abolished inChrist, that everything is holy if it is surrendered to andin harmony with the Lord. This includesour vocations, as long as they arenot contrary to His righteous standards.
GB: Do you get into the impact ofGreek influence in Loving Monday?
JB: I do, but it's not a major emphasis.The book begins with my own discoveryof faith. As with John Wesley, I one dayfound myself "strangely warmed" asGod drew me into His presence. Later,I understood I had been "born again."I began to see the Bible as the foundationfor right thinking and right living,but didn't immediately make the connection that itslessons could apply directly to my work. When Idid, it was revolutionary. It affected everything, suchas defining our core values, shaping personnel policies,managing finances and serving customer needs.I give lots of examples in the book, lessons learnedin the trenches from my work experience.
GB: You mentioned earlier your "call" to business.How did you conclude you were called?
JB: During high school, I thought God might wantme to be an Episcopal minister. At least thatsounded like a worthy direction for my life. But myheart was elsewhere, in engineering and business.When I was accepted to MIT, an engineering school,I wanted to do cartwheels. But during college, thenlater in my business career, the nagging questionrecurred--was I in the highest calling--was I whereGod wanted me?
GB: How was this tension resolved?
JB: I remember the day clearly - a day when Itook a big step of faith. I completely relinquishedmy work and the family business to the Lord. Isaid, in effect, "This business can't be Yours andmine at the same time. I give it over to You, and Iwill do whatever You want me to." I sensed this wasthe step He was requiring of me, but had no expectationof what might result. Almost immediately,however, I believe He affirmed to me that I was exactlywhere He wanted me, that I was called to business.My understanding has since come along to fillin the theological gaps, and I now see that if Godhas called me to a particular vocation, there is nohigher calling. I never wavered again in my commitmentand call to business.
GB: Your company has been very successful,providing resources for IFA and many otherworthy causes.
JB: Without question, we have been blessed bythe Lord, growing to a position of marketleadership in the heating industry in the U.S. Aswe have committed our ways to the Lord, He hasbeen able to direct our paths, enabling us togrow and prosper. But I would add that ourshas not been a story of unbroken success. Wehave had many major challenges to overcome.I've tried to be transparent in the book concerningthese difficulties, for it is throughtrouble that God often teaches us life's mostimportant lessons.
GB: Who do you hope will read LovingMonday?
JB: It's targeted to a broad audience, especiallythose in business, or aspiring to be in business.This includes college students, among whom Iwould like to see it have a real impact. It isbeing sold through major book chains, over theInternet, and through Christian bookstores. Thepublisher, InterVarsity Press, is aggressivelycoordinating the marketing, but we are relyingmuch on the Lord and His people to get theword out. With 52,000 books being publishedin America each year, it's hard for a new authorto get visibility.
GB: Thank you, John. A final thought?
JB: Loving Monday is the "signature" on mylife's work to this point, and it's exciting to seeit in print. In a way, the book is related to myburden for prayer, for I've found that properlyviewed, work can itself be a form of intercession- applying God's truth under the guidance ofHis Spirit. Through the Beckett Corporation,the lives of many employees have been impacted,as well as suppliers, customers and ourcommunity. We trust we are serving the Lord'spurposes as a kind of model, and through thismodel, many will find that faith and work don'tneed to be two separate worlds, but can be one.Finally, I will appreciate prayer through IFA'sintercessory prayer network that LovingMonday will be a sharp instrument in theLord's hand, changing lives and extending thework of His kingdom here on earth.
John D. Beckett is founder and president of the R. W. Beckett Corporation,headquartered in Elyria, Ohio. He also serves as Chairman of the IFA Boardof Directors. We are pleased to introduce Mr. Beckett's new book published by InterVarsity Press, hardcover, 176 pages, at a special IFA introductoryprice of $13.95 + $3.00 shipping. Order IFA Item #B195. Credit card orders phone toll-free 1-800-872-7729.