Where Business Meets Ministry: An Interview with Ray Edwards

This week I have the opportunity to present to you an interview with one of today’s hottest online platform builders–Ray Edwards. Ray is a renown copywriter, strategist, and consultant to some of the leading influencers in today’s marketplace. I am convinced that one of his “not so secrets” to success his his deft balancing of his faith and business that speaks to people all along the continuum. In this interview we get a rare deep dive into the personal and professional mindset that drives Ray Edwards’ home and business success and  fuels the exponential rate at which his influencing is growing.

[The following interview excerpts were taken from the discussion that will air later this week on episode 51 of “The Leading You Home Podcast”. ]

What is home life like for Ray Edwards?

It is the most important life. That’s real life. If you really want to know somebody, sit around their dinner table put your feet under their table for a while and see what unfolds.My home life would probably surprise a lot of people. I think people have this idea that I have this jet setter lifestyle. But, I don’t…It’s me and my wife. I have the good fortune that our son lives with us. He is twenty-nine years old. He was away a number of years. But, he has come home to work with us in Spokane. He was going to stay with us for a couple of months until he found a place of his own. But, about a month in I said there is no pressure on you here. But, you could stick around. You don’t have to move out.

We have two little dogs..pugs. The best kind of dogs–at least for us. We spend a lot of time sitting around our living room and talking and laughing–mostly at the dogs.

How you see yourself and what you do as “Leading people home”?

It’s interesting that I didn’t do any preparation for this interview. But, I love where it is going. I see myself as a father. I think of my students and customers as a family. I want to be a good father to them. My model for that is my father in heaven, who is a good father for us.  Of course he is the best Father. He always does the right thing and says the right thing. He always loves us the right way. That’s the model for me. It is a challenge. But, it is our assignment, I think. God is family. He is relationships. He is three in one–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

For me, the foundational structure of the universe is based on a family relationship. that is so mysterious that we can’t begin to understand it. But, I think that informs the rest of creation and informs the way we were made. When we get outside of “family” then we face manipulation and control. We get into trouble. I think my business is like a family. My church is like a family. And, the human race is supposed to be a family. Usually, when we get into trouble it is because we forget that.

How would this perspective impact our business model?

I think there are two kinds of business–those that use people to make money and then businesses that use money to love people. It sounds kind of pie in the sky. But, I think it is the most practical and profitable model for running a business. If you love people and use your resources to love on people then you will be rewarded in profit. I think capitalism is a great idea. I believe it is God’s idea in fact. If we operated with that in mind we would be more profitable and we would be happier.

What was behind the increased prominence of the Spiritual Foundations portion of of your own Podcast?

Well, it is always hardest to see the picture when you are inside the frame. I started the Spiritual Foundations part of the show from the beginning. Then, I took it out for a while but not because I was ashamed of it. I just thought maybe it is best to put this in a separate podcast all its own. But, my listeners protested pretty overwhelmingly and said “No. This is the primary reason why we listen. This is what makes you different than everybody else.” I saw after a reader survey that this was one of the primary reasons that people were coming to the show.

I realized that this really was more reflective of who I am and what I’m about. Anybody who spends any time with me knows that you’re only about 15 minutes from me talking about the Lord at any given time. So, I just realized that I want to be who I am. And, it seems like my audience is alright with that. Really that shouldn’t matter. I should be who I am whether my audience is OK with it or not. But, that was a revelation for me. It gave me some freedom…At your home you have to be comfortable enough to be real. The show is my home online. I just want to be the kind of guy that when people meet me in real life see that I am no different than when they see me speaking or at at my house. That is the guy I want to be.

When you think about your own journey, what have been the easiest as well as the most difficult things to let go?

The easiest and hardest are the same thing. It is letting go of what other people think. It was the hardest thing to do because I had this fear that all of us have deep down that if people really knew me they wouldn’t like me very much. Once I let go of that it became the easiest because I could be myself and see that people do still like me. And, anyway, it is none of my business what other people think about me.

What advice do you give nascent platform builders as far as vulnerability and letting go?

It’s a good question. I think you have got to use some common sense here. Really, I think as a budding or experienced platform builder the place to go is usually the place that makes you most uncomfortable. That is the place where you will get the most authenticity–if we can use that overused word. People get a sense that you’re being real when you go to those places where you feel the most vulnerable and the most fear about how people will think an what their reaction will be.

I say use common sense… Some time ago I let some information go about my health. I went public with what a lot of people in my position want to conceal because it can be perceived weakness or vulnerability. I just felt really strongly that I’m dealing with something called Parkinson’s Disease. I felt strongly that I had some answers for people about how to face things like this. I felt that if I didn’t share them that I wasn’t really being a good steward of what I’ve been given. I certainly don’t think the disease is a gift that I’ve been given. But, I do think the ability to respond to it from a God perspective is a gift that I’ve been given. So, to not share that with people would be robbing them of something that God has entrusted to me.

How do you advise those that face difficult or life-threatening situations to still push through to what God has for you to do?

I think you have to look at what is relevant to what you are doing as work. What I do as work is create material that encourages, educations, inspires, and motivates. So, the first thing is that I would be less than honest if I didn’t let people know what I’m dealing with because I’m telling them how to deal with things in their lives. If I’m telling you how to deal with fear or tough circumstances then that really calls me into question at some point or other.

But, I think one piece of advice that I would give is that I didn’t do this right away. I think there are certain things we have to work through privately before we go public with it. I don’t think it is a good idea to use your platform as a place of personal therapy. I think that is dangerous to you and your love ones and those on the receiving end. As scary as that is to think about, if you have a blog and a podcast then many consider you an expert. They think that whatever you say must be true.

You may be at a tender point in your dealing with a certain situation such as an illness or relationship problem or some other challenge in your life. And, when you are in a tender place then people go back and forth on how they process things that happen to them. You may be on that swinging pendulum and you end up having a lot of people swinging with you. And, that could hurt people.

I had to reach a place where in that very tender portion of my life that I felt confident that I knew where I stood on it. I had settled certain matters in my mind and heart. How do I deal with the fact that I believe that God heals people and to this moment I still exhibit symptoms of this disease that I believe he wants to heal me from. How do I deal with that? How do I deal with how it is on a very personal level that God allows apparently very tragic circumstances to happen to people and yet I don’t believe it is his will that bad things happen to us. Does he allow it? I had to settle all these questions for myself to a degree that I felt confident enough that I could be in a position of leadership for other people. I think that is an important step in the process. You have to be confident in where you stand. It doesn’t mean that I have all the answers. It doesn’t mean you need to have all the answers. But, you need to have some of the answers. You need to have some foundational things clear in your own heart and mind before publicly share opinions–unless you are just very clear with them that you are in a broken place. Maybe you can learn something from it. Just know where I’m coming from. It gets back to honesty, authenticity, and being real.

Is there one biblical passage that has been most impactful or motivating for you in your own Pursuit of Influence?

This will sound like a boiler plate answer. But, I feel like I’m at a new place of revelation about this particular passage of scripture personally. It’s the Sermon on the Mount. I use to think that this was about a list of rules to live by. Many people right now think that is what it is about. But, I actually think it is something more profound that that. We have to remember who Jesus was speaking with when he said the beatitudes. He was giving an example of what was required to be righteous in God’s eyes. And, if you read the Sermon on the Mount as a rule book you realize that I can’t do any of that. There is no way that I can maintain that level of righteousness. He was speaking at the time to people who lived before he was crucified and raised from the dead and glorified at the right hand of the Father and given his own righteousness to us as a gift. He even said about righteousness that unless you become more righteous than the scribes and pharisees that you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

He wasn’t saying become more righteousness. He was saying that you just can’t live up to the standard of righteousness that is required. What he was saying is that this is why I had to come and do what I’m about to do. I look at the Sermon on the Mount as something that I couldn’t achieve on my own but through his grace I’m empowered to live at a higher level…What he was saying is that God’s standard is so much higher than the rules that we’re given. It is only through his grace that we have the ability to live at that level. God looks at us and sees us as the righteousness of God inside of the life of Christ. So, to me, I look at the Sermon on the Mount and see that this is the gift that I’ve been given. I can live a life that is ascended even above what I’m reading about here–but not through my own effort. But, through the gift of God to me. That destroys me–in a good way.

How do people find out more about you and what you make available for them?

The best advice to be current with what we are doing is to just go to RayEdwards.com. There you will find a ton of free resources. We have the podcast–which is free every week. We have videos and articles and PDF downloads. We have a plethora of things that you will find useful. And, occasionally we will inform you about things that we have available for sell because I did mention that I do believe in capitalism. So, I practice what I preach. 

Website: RayEdwards.com

Podcast: Podcast Archives

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