Jason and David, The Benham Brothers, are successful business entrepreneurs with the heart of missionaries. They discuss their new book “Living Among Lions” and the notion of giving your best for God, no matter what kind of work you do.
Work As Worship: Jesus Calling Podcast Episode 24
David Benham: We thank you for Jesus Calling. I thank you for everything they represent and just, Lord, the fact that they are pushing people to get with you. Lord, that’s what we need, Lord. We’ve had enough religion. It’s time for a deep relationship with You. Lord, I just pray God; just blessings, just supernatural blessings, Lord God, that Your Name will be lifted up, and that we would glorify you in these last days. In Jesus’s name.
Narrator: Welcome to The Experience Jesus Calling Podcast. Today we speak with The Benham Brothers. Jason and David are successful business entrepreneurs with the heart of missionaries. They discuss how their early dreams for their lives turned out much differently than they expected, and how they were eventually called as businessmen to put God first and to serve others.
David: My name is David Benham. I’m the older twin brother to my brother Jason Benham. I’m two minutes older than him and a heck of a lot better looking than he is. So, we’re the Benham brothers. A lot of people call us the Benham Brothers. What do we do? Well, we’re real estate, but more importantly, we’re believers who happen to be entrepreneurs. We’re also husbands and fathers. My brother’s been married for sixteen years … sixteen years?
Jason Benham: I do need to introduce myself, My name is Jason Benham and I’m the one with the deeper, baritone voice that you could fall asleep to. David, on the other hand, when he speaks it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.
David: Okay, so Jason’s been married 16 years. He has four children from the ages of fifteen down to six. I’ve been married eighteen years. I have five children from the ages of seventeen down to five. And what do we do to put food on the plates for our kiddos? We’re in real estate, but we also own several other companies. And we also speak a lot and we write books. We’re in the middle of our third book now, but we just released our second one, Living Among Lions.
Pursuing Dreams – The Benham Brothers Growing Up
Jason: David and I grew up in Garland, Texas, which is just a little town, just north of Dallas, and our Dad was a pastor. He was actually a saloon owner before we were born. Then he got radically saved just after we were born by a man coming through and selling coffee makers. He witnessed to him. My dad got saved radically, and so he surrendered his life to be a pastor.
Right around that time my mom got pregnant again, and we had Abby, who was born when David and I were 14. Then when we were sixteen, my parents got another little kid, Johnny. And, so now that was their last kid, and David and I went off to play baseball at Liberty University, and from there we got drafted to play professional baseball. I was drafted by Baltimore, David was drafted by Boston.
David: We were very competitive. But one good thing that our Dad taught us, it’s really good especially in this culture of athleticism today, is that competition is meant to build up, not tear down. So, Dad really kept our competitive spirits, he fostered an environment of competition, but for the purpose of building each other up. We really believe that’s one of the reasons why we’re able to get into business and be competitive, not only with each other, but with other folks in the marketplace and really make the marketplace better.
Jason: Baseball was a dream for both of us growing up, but we were three sport athletes; baseball, basketball, football. Basketball was actually our first love. Still, to this day, it’s our favorite sport. But we knew that we probably had a little more ability in baseball and had the ability to go pro with baseball, beyond basketball. So our dream was to get full ride scholarships to a Division 1 school, by God’s grace, we did that at Liberty. Then we didn’t want to stop there, we wanted to get drafted to play pro ball. By God’s grace we did that, but our final desire was to actually play in the big leagues. Neither one of us made that. David got the ability to play, what was it maybe three or four weeks in the big leagues during spring training?
David: Yeah, four weeks.
Jason: Both of us ended up quitting, retiring early when we were in AA, just because the minor leagues is not an environment where you could raise a family, and I had gotten married. My brother was married and already had kids. So we had to die to that dream and we tell a lot of young kids: “You’ve got to learn to die to your dreams.” What we mean by that is you give the results to God, in your heart. So you’re telling the Lord: “Look, I’m gonna pursue this dream with my feet but I’m going to die to it in my heart, which means I give the results to you. I’m going to do my best to accomplish it, but if it doesn’t work out, fine. If you pivot me and move into a different direction, I’ll follow you whatever the cost.” So, that’s how you die to a dream, and we both had to walk through that with pro ball.
Die To Your Dreams – Seeking a New Path
David: When you die to your dreams, you stay dead to your dreams in your heart, but you pursue your dreams with your hands and your feet. One of the best examples in American history of that is President John Adams. When he was done being president, he actually went back and became … he was still involved in politics. He would constantly be pushing for abolition of slavery, and yet he would lose consistently. Someone came up to him and said, “How can you still remain joyful, and how can you still keep doing these things even though you keep failing?” He said, “Duty is mine. Results are God’s.” When you have that paradigm that our duty is to be faithful to God. Our duty is not to be successful. That’s up to God as He defines success for our lives. Our duty is to simply be faithful and let the results be God’s.
So you’re telling the Lord: “Look, I’m gonna pursue this dream with my feet but I’m going to die to it in my heart, which means I give the results to you.
It was difficult because necessity is the mother of all invention. What I mean by that is that out of necessity, since we never made it to the big leagues and we never had made really a very good living out of baseball, and we both had young families, we just had to get into the marketplace and figure out jobs to work. So I took a job as a janitor at a local high school in Concord, North Carolina just outside of Charlotte.
It took twelve months for the Lord to strip my identity as a professional athlete and get my head wrapped around the fact that, “You know what? You did not make it to the big leagues, you’re not going to be a professional athlete, you’re not going to have that platform that you thought for sure you were going to get to glorify the Lord.” So, I wanted the big leagues, and Jason wanted the big leagues to glorify God but God never gave it to us. So, it was during my time as a janitor when I was sweeping floors, vacuuming, painting, plunging toilets, that I went from a baseball bat to a broomstick. And the Lord showed me; if you want to be a faithful child of mine, if you want to glorify me, then you need to be willing to be just as faithful pushing a broom as you were swinging a bat.
And that was hard to do. Because pushing a broom is not glamorous. Pushing a broom isn’t a really good platform to glorify the Lord, supposedly in today’s culture. But being a pro athlete definitely is. But then the Lord just showed me, during that time, during that twelve-month period of time, you need to be faithful. Right where I put you. And I will glorify myself through you wherever you are remaining faithful to me. So, it took about twelve months. But, standing on that platform of brokenness and a full identity in Jesus Christ, because I understood at that point I’m a human being not a human doing. Who I am in Christ matters more than what I do for Him…that Jason and I decided to get our real estate licenses, and that shot us into a whole other chapter of our story.
The Next Chapter for the Benham Brothers
David: The natural next step in real estate was because Jason and I, we had been out of baseball taking any odd job we could. I worked as a janitor, and we knew that we eventually needed to buy a home. We needed to save as much money as possible, so we said, “Hey, if we get our real estate license, we can save commission on our next house or on our first house when we buy it,” which was kind of crazy. We had no idea that we had entrepreneurial spirits inside of us. We also had no idea that the principles that we had learned from God’s Word as we started reading through the Bible at the age of 12, as Jason said, we caught an appetite for scripture reading from our dad. So, we started reading through the New Testament from 12 to 18, and from 18 until … let’s see. At this point when we got our real estate licenses, we were 26. We had been reading through the whole scripture. When we went to Liberty and only studied American history, we didn’t study business. We didn’t have any business training when we got our real estate licenses.
The natural product of all of our principles being applied in the marketplace was success. We got our real estate licenses. Instead of buying our own houses, we started brokering deals for banks and other clients, and they really liked our service, and we realized we can do this for a lot more banks across the country and government-sponsored enterprises. We could also do it for private equity groups and all this other stuff. The next thing you know, we had a hundred offices across 35 states. It was amazing. It was the Lord. We like to say, that for us to take credit for building a successful business would be like a shovel taking credit for digging a hole. We were just the instruments, the tools that God chose to use to get the job done.
Jason: David and I always wanted baseball to be our main platform as professional athletes, but what we found is if we begin to focus on building our own platform, we begin to operate strategically, not spiritually. And although strategy is good, it’s always got to follow the spirit. If we focus on the Person who gave us whatever platform He gave us in the first place, then we’ll always operate spiritually.
David: There are folks that have been given a tremendous, significant platform in the world. They’ve seen incredible fruit. There are others that might see one convert in their day, or maybe they’re just faithful in their family. Who knows what the yield is? So what we do is we have to focus on our duty to be faithful to God, and we let results be God’s. He determines the results. If we start getting results-focused, which is really where the marketplace is. Now, I understand you have to look at results in terms of making profit, but that can’t be your focus. The focus is delivering excellent service or producing phenomenal products. Then the results take care of themselves. So when you put results second and duty first, it really allows you find your strength and your joy in the Lord and not in the results.
Narrator: Jason and David were led by God to take the business principles they had learned and apply them to help others who are in full-time ministry. By combining their business sense with a heart for missions, they came up with a concept that has been extremely successful in helping missionaries in other parts of the world.
The Mission for Missionaries – The Benham Brothers Give Back
Jason: David and I, in 2010, heard a stat that 600 missionary families were coming in off the mission field every single month. We know that one of the reasons why is because of the economy in America had just tanked. A bunch of us went through that bad economy – we were in business during that time. We thought, “what are we going to do, we’ve obviously got to do something.” So we went to the Lord. We started praying and fasting over what God would have us do, and the first thought that came through our mind is that we’ve got to start supporting more missionaries. But that didn’t resonate with our spirit, and we felt like that Lord said, “what are you good at,” and we thought, “well, we know how to build businesses,” and we just felt so clearly that God said, “well, do that.” We decided to go over to an area of the Philippines where we knew some missionary families that were going to have to come home because they didn’t have funding anymore. We basically started a business over there. We hired the missionary to come work with us and we started to talking with them, essentially that our missioneering concept meant that we have an engineering mindset, we want to engineer something that hasn’t been engineered, we want to pioneer something and this was to create a self sustaining revenue model for missions, but we wanted to do it all with a missionary heart, so we called it “missioneering”—pioneering and engineering with a missions heart. So we did that, we created a business, and about a year later we had thirty employees and our missioneer over there was running our office, and then we decided to grab another missioneer, we brought him from America over there to the Philippines and put him in charge of human resources. To this day, since that time, we’ve grown to over 400 employees over in that business, and we’ve since begun to start businesses from that company.
So what we do is we have to focus on our duty to be faithful to God, and we let results be God’s.
There’s a lot of things that God has really put into David and I that shifted our paradigms on how God sees business and how God sees work. We believe that your work is your worship. It’s such a freeing concept when you think about it; that if your work is worship, you don’t have to surrender to full-time ministry. The reason why is because there’s no such thing in the life of a believer; there’s no dichotomy. The minute you accept Christ into your heart, you have become a full-time minister. Your ministry may look different than somebody else. It may be a plumber that doesn’t get a chance to talk to anybody but customers who want them to fix their sinks. Well, that’s the type of minister God has created you to be because the definition of ministry is to serve and so ministers are those who serve with a heart to honor the Lord. So if that’s who you are, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just serve with a heart to honor the Lord and you will be God’s minister.
Bringing Light To A World of Darkness
Narration: David and Jason continue to spread the idea of missioneering to others in business by speaking, teaching and writing books. They feel strongly that we are all missionaries who are called uniquely to serve others, and by doing so, we can bring God’s light where it is needed most.
David: Jason and I travel the country and say quite often that the problem today is not the presence of darkness, it’s the absence of light. The only way darkness prevails in the culture or in our own personal lives, is when we don’t have the light of God’s word shining and we are not the light of the world.
Where our strength is found in Christ, is when we begin to shine the light, when we begin to live as lights in this world. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” See, we have a chance to do good works. We’re not all in heaven right now. We’re gonna be in heaven for eternity, but right now we have a chance to do good works. Whether that be in the marketplace, whether that be in your home, whether that be at your school, whether that be at the grocery store; wherever that may be, we have a chance to be the light of the world, to be the voice, the hands, the feet of Jesus Christ, and to do good works for Him.
Narrator: To find out more about The Benham Brothers’ book “Living Among Lions,” visit benhambrothers.com.
Our featured passage from today’s episode comes from the May 6th entry of the Jesus Calling audiobook.
Do not search for security in the world you inhabit. You tend to make mental checklists of things you need to do in order to gain control of your life. If only you could check everything off your list, you could relax and be at peace. But the more you work to accomplish that goal, the more things crop up on your list. The harder you try, the more frustrated you become.
There is a better way to find security in this life. Instead of scrutinizing your checklist, focus your attention on My Presence with you. This continual contact with Me will keep you in My Peace. Moreover, I will help you sort out what is important and what is not, what needs to be done now and what does not. Fix your eyes not on what is seen (your circumstances), but on what is unseen (My Presence).
Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling Podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.