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Learning from Stubbornness


📄 John Beehner had a wonderful opportunity to work with a young and incredibly successful entrepreneur, John Smith. Yes, that really is his name. To this day, he remains a great friend. Somehow, at age 28, under God's grace, he had built a chain of 20 athletic shoe stores in malls throughout the Southeast. During the height of his business growth, each store was averaging nearly $2 million in sales per year.  John had skipped over some rough paths in life and deep down thought he was smarter than most CEOs.

But then the marketplace began to change. His profit margins started to fall because stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart were now carrying the same merchandise. Since John was a great athlete in college, his competitive instincts took over. Unfortunately, he refused to listen to several good advisers and the wise counsel they provided. As a Christian, he could not imagine that God would allow what he had built to fail. He planned to push forward, despite the competition, to double the number of stores, and tried to raise millions of dollars. The "good seed" was the advice that others had given him. His refusal to listen was due to the condition of his heart.

As things got worse, he had a chance to sell the remaining stores for more than $2 million dollars but said, "No way." When he had to close more stores, he had another offer but refused again. Finally, he was forced to close down, owing nearly a million dollars. Pride and stubbornness make very hard soil. After closing the stores, he was led to new humility.  The Lord is sending signals if our antenna is up and we are tuned to the right frequency. If God can't plant the seed in the soil of our hard heads and hearts, the grace period over us will end.

Since the years have passed, John has confessed to me that he wished he had not had such skyrocketing success right out of college. Instead, he would have liked to have been able to learn like normal leaders through the typical difficulties and failures. Then he would have been better prepared to handle the decline of his business.

“The only thing worse than failure is not trying.”

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