When did you come to realize you needed to be redeemed by the saving work of Christ?
I was once an incurable prodigal living a life of duality. I only came to Jesus with my need; never my heart. In January of 2016, I finally began the journey of becoming and being my real self before God. There was no motive or hidden agenda this time. Yes, I needed rescuing again, but this time I chose to surrender completely. There was no tragedy or failure compelling me. I was simply tired of pretending.
Were there certain things you noticed early about how surrendering to the Lordship of Christ was changing you?
I am a salesman and I like to win. Winning made me feel like I could do anything I wanted as long as I was a good person, so I used that mentality with the Lord. I would take credit for my success and never allow the grace of Jesus to take center stage like I do today. Becoming authentic also cost me the option of negotiating with God. I had to admit when I was being selfish, I had to learn to obey the Holy Spirit. Obedience immediately led to greater blessing but that’s not why I chose, and continue to choose, to obey. I obeyed because I had never fully surrendered, before. I continue to obey because I now understand the love of the Father.
Of course, we are found perfect when we are clothed in Christ, but He is still purging away our old sin nature and helping us to see He is better than our idols. How do you respond when He reveals those idols?
As soon as I begin thinking I’ve accomplished something, God checks my pride. He is gentle in His way, but He won’t compete with anyone or anything. I know He loves me, and His love drives me to want to please Him and give Him the proper honor. He still reveals to me those things that I’ve allowed to take a higher place of importance in my life… I think He’s always done that. It’s just that, now, I actually listen to His voice, and I try very hard to put that thing back in its proper place before it ever becomes an idol…
The workplace can be stressful with deadlines, quotas, and serving customers well, so being a faithful witness for Christ is challenging. How are you specifically able to shine the light of Christ in your field?
I am in the car business, and most of what you have heard about it is true. I walk away from certain conversations… people notice that. I can’t be a light if I’m not spending time with God, so each day I start by getting in His presence, and talking about my day and the challenges of life. I am no longer ashamed of the Gospel so almost every day I’m engaged in conversation about my faith. I might bring God up, or my client might, but I respectfully move into that conversation convinced that I have just been given another divine appointment.
Based on what you’ve learned through the peaks and valleys of your faith, what advice would you give fellow Christians who want to live for Christ beyond the church walls on Sunday?
Life in Christ is not for the faint-hearted or those weak in the area of commitment. Loving Jesus is easy; following his way is hard, which is why so few actually live the life He came to give us. Everything comes down to obedience. Am I going to go with the world on this, or am I going with God? There should be a difference in us that’s noticeable and enticing. It’s what the world needs and God uses His people for His glory and the good of others. If I appear to be the same person I was before I surrendered, then I’m not surrendered, I’m pretending. God can’t use anything fake.
Finally, what difference has Christ made in your day-to-day life?
All that I am and all that I do should glorify Christ and be a blessing to others. Allowing Jesus his rightful place as Lord and Master of my life allows me to be authentic. Being authentic opens my heart up and causes me to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable makes me real, and that’s what others are looking for. There are those who won’t come around me anymore because they see that the devil lost me. There are others that only know me as a Jesus Follower. It’s all pretty amazing, really.
Jeff is a longtime resident of the River Region. A career salesman, he is a Certified Sales Consultant with Jack Ingram Mercedes-Benz. Jeff and his wife, Shannon, attend Church of the Highlands and enjoy hosting a weekly small group in their home.