Last year, Jason and David Benham went from being two of America’s millions of business owners to being the face of the culture wars after their HGTV show was cancelled over the brothers’ Christian-based, culturally conservative beliefs.
Now, nine months after their show was cancelled, Jason and David have published a book detailing the role faith has played throughout their lives — as children, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, and even controversial public figures. Whatever the Cost: Facing Your Fears, Dying to Your Dreams, and Living Powerfully makes evident that the brothers have not allowed their show’s cancellation to break them.
I sat down with the Benham brothers to talk feeling ashamed of your job, actively waiting on God, and fighting your ego.
Some people will view your book as a prime example quid-pro-quo relationship with God. Is this a correct way of viewing the relationship?
First of all, our Christian faith is a comprehensive worldview that affects every area of life. Where the Christian faith is allowed to flourish — like in America — economic prosperity and domestic tranquility follows. This does not mean that everything turns into a bed of roses, yet when we are in a right relationship with God we are not only blessed, but we become a blessing. This is the promise of Abraham in Genesis 12:2 into which we as Christians are grafted.
That being said, darkness still exists in the earth and wages war against those who live out their Christian faith. So persecution is not only a possibility for a Christian, but a guarantee. Hebrews 11 — where so many faithful followers of God were persecuted and killed — crushes the paradigm that God guarantees us nothing but blessing and tranquility. John the Baptist was beheaded in prison, yet David died in his old age as king. We don’t know what we’ll experience on this earth in terms of peace or persecution, but what we do know is that when we’re faithful to God he blesses us with his presence — and that’s all that matters.
Do you feel that you were able to bring God glory even when you weren’t in jobs that brought earthly attention — including when you were unemployed?
Faithfulness in the little things is a foundational tenet of Christianity. And this is what God is looking for from us — he seeks to see a heart that is faithful to him whatever the cost, whatever the job. After David was anointed king he went right back to tending his father’s sheep, being faithful right where God had placed him. This is how you become a “man after God’s own heart.”
When I [David] left baseball and took a job as a janitor, God tested me to the core of my being. And I got to the point where I was so disappointed in my job that I wasn’t being faithful — I wasn’t doing my best. Then, one day God convicted me, and I repented. From that time on, I knew that if I wanted to honor God that I needed to be the best janitor I could be. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t experience it myself, but I literally was set free and worked as hard as a janitor as when I did playing baseball.
In the book you write that “your greatest weakness is often an overextension of your greatest strength.” What steps can we take to minimize our and maximize strengths?
As overly aggressive, type-A personality guys, we can often be insensitive, bulldozing, and pig-headed. Just ask our wives. These are actually strengths when it comes to getting the job done, executing tight timelines, and delivering high quality work in the marketplace. Yet over-extending these — or taking them home when dealing with our children — can be detrimental to us as fathers and husbands.
The Harvard Business Review once stated that one of the top qualities in great leaders is self-awareness. So we took inventory of ourselves and listed our strengths and weaknesses. And we realized that the strengths God gave us for good could also be used for evil. It was up to us to choose which one. The key for us was focus — staying laser-focused on purity of heart and clarity of vision. We develop each of these through daily time in prayer and Bible reading, then ending that time with a commitment to use our strengths for God’s glory.
In terms of failure, we believe it is actually a good thing. Of course, no one likes to fail, but you truly never fail if you learn from your mistakes. As a matter of fact, your mistakes can become stepping stones for others to stand upon if you openly confess them and make them right. In addition, we believe in high accountability with other men. No man succeeds by himself. So we are very open with each other — and a few other men we trust — about our weaknesses in order that course-correction can be brought if we’re not staying focused.
It is clear in your book that faith and works operate together. How do you know when to wait, when to act, and — perhaps most importantly — when it’s not God speaking to you?
Waiting on God is a tenet of our faith, yet we teach that you are to hustle while you wait. Let us explain:
There are two types of waiting — the state of waiting and the service of waiting. The state of waiting is waiting upon God patiently to meet our needs, not taking matters into our own hands — having faith in him even when we don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. We use this quite often in business by refusing to go into debt when we need an inflow of cash for a capital expense. The only way we remain in a state of waiting is to consistently place our faith in God and trust him for our needs.
The service of waiting, on the other hand, is serving others while you wait. It’s hustling for others while you wait on God. Much like a server in a restaurant, we are to serve others and focus on them, trusting that our needs will be met in the end. When we wait on God and hustle while waiting we’ll find ourselves in the path of God’s divine voice.
It is very easy for success to breed ego and separation from God. How have you managed to not let yourselves be taken over by the temptations of the world, even as you became successful athletes and businessmen?
First, humility is seeing yourself through the grid of who God is and who you are in relation. If you spend time alone with God on a daily basis and let him comb through your life you will remain humble — trust us.
Secondly, we have to see our talents as God-given tools for his glory and not as toys for our benefit. With a proper paradigm of our God-given talents there is no room for ego.
Lastly, the scripture says, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord . . . he who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Proverbs 24:3-4). If we want to experience all of God’s best for our lives, then we must have both clean hands AND a pure heart. Though we’re not perfect, this has been a daily focus of ours our entire adult lives.
You’ve talked about America’s greatest battle of this century being that of religious liberty. What is your view of America’s future in that regard?
Throughout history, the Christian worldview has never been so free to flourish as it has in America. This is precisely why we have the freedoms we do today (freedom of speech, expression, religion, etc.) — because the individual is valued by God. As such, each individual has God-given rights. Yet we’ve lost this incredible truth and isolated our faith into a comfortable Sunday compartment — not to be discussed except for within the four walls of church.
Persecution is not only a possibility in America — it’s a guarantee. The question is, Are we willing to face it in the same loving spirit that the early church did?
So what can we do? Here are four things we encourage Christians with:
- Heart. Get God’s heart. Boldness apart from brokenness makes a bully. 2 Chronicles 7:14 — start with humility and repentance.
- Head. Get the mind of Christ. We must devour God’s word and fast/pray to know him and hear his voice clearly.
- Mouth. Be God’s voice. Faith comes by hearing, so we must enter the conversation and be God’s voice of truth in the darkness.
- Hands and Feet. Show that true Christianity is a comprehensive life system that blesses the nation. Start with charity and chastity. Be willing to share your testimony. Disciple someone. Work with excellence. Tip well in Jesus’ name. Get to know and bless your neighbors. Elect Godly leaders and reprove ruthless ones. Be intentional with your faith in every way — because our faith touches everything.
Image courtesy of Benham Brothers.