Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain I

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Bradley A. Harmon, The Christian EntrepreneurBeing a blogger is a lot like being the Wizard of Oz.  We stand in our little booth and project out the images that we want the whole world to see.  But occasionally we roll back the curtain, or have a little dog force it open, revealing the man behind the curtain.

Today I roll back part of that curtain and exposed warts and all.  For some, you will be able to relate with my story.  For others, I will lose credibility or authority.  Either way, you will see the authentic me – the fearfully and wonderfully made, yet still flawed, human being.

Like you, I have played many different roles in my life. I’m a Christian, husband, father, certified public accountant, entrepreneur, small business coach, and I’ve served as the controller for several mid-sized companies.

A proud graduate of Texas A&M University (Gig ‘Em Aggies!), where I received my Bachelors of Business Administration degree majoring in Accounting, I definitely bleed maroon. Many of my social media accounts carry my nickname, AggieBrad.

I also have an Associates of Arts degree in Business Administration from Blinn College. I have attended more seminars, conferences, training sessions, forums, certification courses, and continuing professional education classes than I care to remember.

The funny thing about this is that I can’t remember ever wanting to be an accountant, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My Early Christian Life

I am first, and foremost, a Christian; howbeit, a very imperfect one. I did not grow up in a Christian home, but by the grace of God I have been a Christian since I was five years old. I am not ashamed to say that I am a born-again, Bible-believing, fundamental, evangelical Christian who is saved only by the grace of God.

Grounded in Deep Knowledge of the BibleBelieve me, there is nothing I have done, or will ever do, that will merit the love, compassion, and mercy that God has bestowed upon me. You see, the church I was saved in was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church (IFBC). I say it that way because they have the reputation of being rigid, legalistic, and holier-than-thou.

In an IFBC, you gain such a deep knowledge of the Bible, and assurance through its doctrine, that the certainty of your knowledge can cause you to become arrogant if you are not careful. Without a role model at home to demonstrate how to “work out my salvation with fear and trembling,” I fell into that trap head first.

My Calling to the Ministry – Not So Fast

I became a world-class holy roller for God (I’m pretty sure God didn’t see it that way). At church camp one summer in my early teens, I surrendered to preach the gospel. I really thought that God wanted me to become a youth pastor. After all, being called to the ministry proved you were holy – right?

As I was soon going to find out, there is a HUGE difference between knowing about God and knowing God. My family moved to Texas my sophomore year. Away from my church home, I quickly realized that knowing something was wrong did not stop me from doing it. Maybe I had not been called into full-time ministry after all?

Divorce Cancelled My Call to MinistryI headed off for my freshman year at Baylor University, but I was rarely on campus – I was traveling back to Dallas to see my high school sweetheart. We married a year later.

I dropped out of college and took a job as a restaurant manager. I knew at the time I was making a big mistake, but my pride was too great to stop it.

Two years later we moved to Indiana, and I was back at my home church preparing to be a youth pastor. My marriage turned out even worse than I had imagined it would, but I kept up appearances.

My inevitable divorce brought words from my pastor for which I was not prepared. He told me that no church (no IFBC) would call a divorced single man as a youth pastor. Given my age, and my desire to have a family, he said it would be best for me to realize I could no longer fulfill my calling.

God Needs Businessmen for Their Tithes?

He said that I should be a Christian businessman because God needed people to tithe and support the church. What? I could not believe my ears!

God Needs Businessmen to TitheThose words started a three year backslide. I could not accept being a “second-class” Christian. I argued with God those three years trying to prove Him wrong (that doesn’t work by the way).

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my pastor was right – even if he did not express it well. He failed to tell me that we are ALL called to a vocation. Only a few are called into a full-time ministry vocation, but the rest of us are called into other various vocations. This calling is so much more than just financing the church.

I had not failed my calling, I had failed to recognize my true calling of being a Christian entrepreneur. Why? I didn’t know there was such a calling. He had set me on a journey that would end with me finally starting to know God rather than just know about Him.

Finishing My Degree – Rent or Tuition

College DegreeI had taken only a few more classes towards my degree during those three years. I found myself broke, and living in half of a mobile home duplex (sadly there is such a thing). I had hit rock bottom, and finally gave up fighting with God.

Walking out on a full scholarship at Baylor was really haunting me. Another semester rolled around, but I still did not have enough money to pay both my tuition and rent. I talked with my landlord, and she agreed to postpone that month’s rent payment.

I enrolled at Blinn College, then a year later at Texas A&M University where I met my future wife. I discovered that I really liked accounting while taking a required core class for my degree. It was like a big jigsaw puzzle, and I love puzzles. That one class determined the next fifteen years of my career.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

After graduation, I had this inner drive to make up for the lost years. I threw myself into work, and quickly started to climb the corporate ladder.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

  • Multi-Technology Services, LP
    • Accounting Manager
  • Atmos Energy
    • Payroll/Benefits Accountant
  • Rare Medium, Inc.
    • International Accountant
  • esoftsolutions, inc.
    • Controller
  • Dallas Market Center
    • Accounting Manager
  • LiquidAgents Healthcare
    • Controller, Dir. of Operations

Despite my quick climb up the corporate ladder, I didn’t have peace or any real satisfaction. There was an unknown dream in my heart, a calling, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

To Be Continued …

The Christian walk is not always easy, and the way is not always clear.  Many times we make it much more difficult by getting in God’s way.  As you can see above, I did that on multiple occasions.

In the conclusion, you will see how I came to fully recognize my true calling, but there were many hard lessons to learn before I would come to that realization.  While God is faithful and forgives us, we must still live with the ripples we cause throughout our life.

It is my sincerest hope that my journey will help others not have to repeat my mistakes, and that they will have many less ripples to tread.

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Brad's Big Feet Marketing helps people on a limited budget enlarge their online footprint using blogging & social media. His other blog, Marketplace Christianity, examines faith's role in how we earn and spend money.

Brad has written 95 awesome articles for us at Bradley A Harmon

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad Harmon December 6, 2009 at 1:50 am

Christ talks about removing the beam from your own eye. I think I had one of those railroad ties in mine. Unfortunately, God used it to knock me over the head several times to get my attention. I felt like one of those American Gladiator contestants trying to stay atop my pedestal, but I eventually fell. But as Paul tells us in Romans 5, God shows up with His “much more” love and grace.

Reply

Dana @ Online Knowledge December 6, 2009 at 1:57 am

Great to know your journey of life Brad. This surely will tell me lot of life learning. Wait for next journey.

Reply

Rita December 6, 2009 at 1:39 am

Thank you for sharing your story/testimony. I really believe we are to share our stories in order to help someone else. Maybe we can help somebody not to get in their own way.

Reply

Brad Harmon December 6, 2009 at 9:36 am

At this point in the story I still did not know what God's true calling was for me. I thought I had already blew it. I did learn some valuable lessons though:

#1 The high up you try to put yourself on a pedestal, the harder the fall.
#2 God is always right, and no amount of arguing will make Him not be.
#3 We can never be too small for God to use, but we can be too big.

Reply

Brandon Cox December 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Brad, I have appreciated so much hearing your journey of faith! Your credibility has only increased in my book!

Reply

Brad Harmon December 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Thanks Brandon. I really appreciate that coming from you.

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