Mere Christians

Sean Kouplen (CEO of Regent Bank)

Episode Summary

Truly radical ideas for showing God’s love at work

Episode Notes

Jordan Raynor sits down with Sean Kouplen, CEO of Regent Bank, to talk about the impact he’s seen from requiring all his managers to spend 30 minutes a week with each direct report with no agenda, how Sean has seen God bring 7 co-workers to faith in Christ, and the freedom that is found when you realize we’re all playing with house money.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[00:00:05] JR: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Mere Christians Podcast. I’m Jordan Raynor. How does the gospel influence the work of mere Christians? Those of us who aren’t pastors or religious professionals, but who work as judges, and personal trainers, and nurse practitioners. That's the question we explore every week. Today, I'm posing it to my friend, Sean Kouplen. Sean is the Chairman and CEO of Regent Bank in Oklahoma City, which has grown organically from 72 million to $1 billion in assets, making it one of America's fastest growing banks.


Sean and I recently sat down to talk about the impact he's seen from requiring all of his managers to spend 30 minutes every week with every direct report, with no work on the agenda. We talked about how Sean has seen God bring seven of his co-workers to saving faith in Jesus Christ. And we talked about the freedom that is found when you realize that all of us are just playing with house money. Guys, I think you're going to love this conversation with Sean Kouplen.




[00:01:24] JR: Sean Kouplen, welcome to the podcast.


[00:01:27] SK: Thanks, Jordan. It's good to be with you.


[00:01:28] JR: So, we got to hang out for an event in Kansas City, where you were like the king emcee of this event. Was that your first professional emcee gig? Not professional, I'm just kidding. Was that your first –


[00:01:41] SK: It was definitely the longest emcee event that I've ever done. As you recall, it was multiple days, multiple speakers, all kinds of stuff going on. So, [inaudible 00:01:52] normally in a one or two-hour window where we can have dinner and all go home, not days upon days. So, it was wonderful to meet you there.


[00:02:02] JR: Geez, it was great. As soon as we got done talking, I was like, “Man, I gotta have Sean on the podcast, talking about how to bring God's love into business.” But it's funny, right before we started recording, you told me this wild story that's gone viral all over YouTube that you witnessed firsthand about bringing God's love onto a baseball field. This just happened last week. Tell us what's the story here? What's been happening personally in your life that you get to witness?


[00:02:33] SK: Oh, my goodness. Well, I don't mean to sidetrack our podcast here, but this is so remarkable. So, I'm going to give you a three-minute version of a three-hour story. I coached the Little League World Series team for the state of Oklahoma. And we went down to Waco, Texas to play in a regional against the state champions from six other states. So, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Colorado, and some other state I can't remember. Arkansas. Arkansas is the last one.


[00:03:07] JR: Who can remember Arkansas? I love you, guys.


[00:03:12] SK: We love Arkansas. So, we’re in this very intense tournament, and a couple of things that I didn't mention that I'll mention very quickly, the second day of the tournament, my assistant coach, we were at dinner and he looks at me and said, “Sean, I don't know how I know this, but this week for us is bigger than baseball.” He said, “I just know that something amazing is going to happen. It's going to be bigger than baseball.”


Fast forward two days, and our team is befriending all of the other states. They became really good friends with Mississippi. We're going to be playing Mississippi on Friday, and two of my 12-year-old baseball players come into my room and say, “Coach, we've got a favor to ask.” I said “What is it?” And they said, “We would like to invite the Mississippi team to pray with us before the game tomorrow.” I was blown away. I was like, “That's the coolest thing I've ever heard of.” I called their coach. He said, “Great.”


Well, from that moment on, we did invite them in. We prayed together, gave a little two minute kind of message, if you will. And from that moment on every game, the rest of the tournament and I believe, in the National Little League World Series, the teams have prayed together. So, that's pretty phenomenal. And then the thing that has gone viral, which obviously I've mentioned to you just a moment ago, because it's consuming my life, is in the finals, we had this miraculous run to the finals. We should have never made it. But we did. We're playing against the team from Texas East, the Houston area. Very, very talented, huge team, like twice my size and they're 12 years old. So, we're playing these young men in the finals and in this bottom half of the first inning, the pitcher throws a curveball pretty fast, probably in the mid-70s would be my guess, hits my shortstop, Isaiah Jarvis in the helmet. We actually think it hit him in the face. His helmet flies off, he falls to the ground, everything comes to a stop. We ran up there, he is totally steel. We think he could be very, very severely injured. Medical staff comes out. He comes too, they do a concussion check on him, he ends up being okay.


So, he walks down slowly down to first base. We feel like an immense sense of relief for kind of getting back in the game. When we all notice that the pitcher who actually was a good friend of Isaiah’s that he had met during that tournament is crying. He is just despondent and he's just saying, “I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.” Over and over. Obviously, it scared him to death. I think he was afraid that he had hurt Isaiah. So, we're all saying, Kaiden, was a young man's name. “Kaiden, it's okay. Just shake it off. You're okay. It's part of baseball. We know you didn't mean to. He's okay.” And I look over and Isaiah has left first base, tossed his helmet to the side, walks from first base out to the pitcher's mound, gave the pitcher a hug in the middle of the field, and says, “Hey, you're okay. Everything's going to be fine. I'm fine. You can do this. You're a great pitcher. Bless you.”


All of this is caught on live TV, on ESPN National, and it has literally gone beyond viral. We finished the game. We lost. We ended up losing a nine to four. Our team's real sad. We're kind of wrapping everything up, getting everything packed in the bags. My wife and I had rented a Hummer limousine for the kids to take them to lunch, whether we won or lost. And as we're going over there to get in the limo, one of the moms says, “I think this video of Isaiah is going viral.” I say, “Do you mean the catch that he made?” Because he made a really good catch earlier in the game where he jumped up and caught a line drive. I said, “Are you talking about the catch?” She's like, “No, the hug, that he did with the pitcher.” I'm like, “Wow, I had no idea.”


Between then and getting to Outback, for lunch. We get calls from every major news outlet in the country. Everyone, ESPN, CBS, NBC, ABC, New York Times, Washington Post, et cetera. So, this thing has gone amazing and I think my coach was absolutely right. I think this is bigger than baseball. We hope that it brings unity back to our country and to our world, and we can put love for each other above our differences. So, needless to say, it has been a wild week. This happened about a week ago.


[00:08:00] JR: Yeah. Oh man. The reason why I brought it up is because you talk about a lot. In fact, in your bio, it says you believe we can, “Bring God's love into our businesses”, and man, what a great example of that in this kid, this 12-year-old kid, young man on a baseball field showing love for his “enemy.” Somebody who just hurt him, in a significant way. Man, that's a beautiful picture.


All right, so let's turn the table Sean, what does this look like in business? You've had a phenomenal career in business. I'm assuming bringing God's love into business, does it mean going around giving people hugs? Maybe sometimes it does. I don't know. What does this look like for you in your context of running this big bank here in Oklahoma?


[00:08:47] SK: I recently served as Secretary of Commerce for the state of Oklahoma, in addition to running the bank. I did that for about three years.


[00:08:55] JR: You’re a crazy person.


[00:08:59] SK: Yeah, it was insane. I left the role. I come back to the bank and I am praying about what is next, because now I have all these contacts. I've got knowledge I didn't have before. I've got time because my team had really stepped up their game while I was doing the commerce role, and I felt very, very clearly, the two words, faith and business coming together. So, I began to pray and I talked to my executive team about what does that really look like? What does that look like in our organization? I was led to a scripture, in particular, a word, okay, in the Bible, and the word is Avodah. A-V-O-D-A-H. This is a Hebrew word that means three different things in three different verses in the Bible. In Genesis 2:15, it means work. And Exodus 8:1, it means worship. And in Joshua 24:15, it means service.


So, Joshua 24:15 is a verse we all know well, “As for me in my house, we shall serve the Lord.” Okay. The serve word in that verse is Avodah. So, we chose in English the word serve, but he could have been saying, as for me and my house, we will work with the Lord or we shall worship with the Lord. So, that was very convicting to me, that God didn't really intend for all these to be separate. He really intended for them to be all the same.


Long story short, through a series of events, my executive team voted unanimously to change our purpose statement for the bank, to show God's love to our employees, clients and communities, not to be the biggest bank, not to make the most money, not any of that, the greatest service. We didn't put any of that. It was just to show everyone we came in contact with, God's love.


Now, we're not forcing religion on anybody, okay, and that is critical. This isn't really about religion. This is about showing love. So, we do this through a number of ways, I'll hit a few, and then we can dig in deeper if you would like. I don't want to bore you to death with all this, but we have a daily devotional from 8:17 to 8:30 every day that our employees and clients and anybody, the public, can call in. We have thousands of callers, but many of our employees call in every morning. We have faith in business events in all of our markets. And so, we bring in speakers like yourself, who would talk about how they integrate their faith into their business. Often, they'll share their testimony. They'll just talk about the role that God has played in their growing of their business.


We have a voluntary prayer team. So, we have about 25 employees. We've got about 180 employees total in our company. And so, we opened it up and said, “Hey, anybody that would like to be on our prayer team to pray for others within the organization, let us know.” And we've got about 25 individuals that do that every day. So, if you're one of our employees, and you need prayer, you just put “prayer team” into Microsoft Outlook, and everybody on that team gets an email, and we all, I'm on it, we commit to stop and pray immediately for whatever that need is, that has been shared. They meet together on Wednesdays as well.


[00:12:32] JR: Do people submit things to that email, let's say, people who wouldn't identify themselves as particularly religious, or specifically Christian?


[00:12:43] SK: 100%. All day. All day, every day. We've probably had six or seven today that have come across, and some people will even put in there, “Listen, I'm not a big religious person, but I could really use your help. Could you guys pray for blah, blah, blah, blah, blah?” I mean, it's everything from, “We really need to sell our house” to, “One of my relatives is in the hospital” to, “I'm feeling some anxiety.” I mean, it is very, very, very powerful.


[00:13:15] JR: That's incredible. What has been the impact of that with the team, after however long you've been doing this, just praying instantly for prayer request. What's been the impact on those who are the ones emailing in that they're not particularly religious?


[00:13:29] SK: Our turnover, Jordan, is virtually zero. Even in this economy, where it's such a tight labor market. We have almost no turnover. Our corporate culture scores have skyrocketed over the last few years since we've been doing this. We had a great culture before. We were always the best place to work. I mean, we've always been a very caring organization, but this has taken it to a whole other level. I pray with employees constantly, and it's important to note, I mentioned this early, but we don't – like I will – we had our Tuesday talk which is a 10-minute huddle that we do as – our whole bank does it together on Zoom. And I always close it out in prayer but I will always say, “For those that are comfortable, I'm going to close in prayer. For those that are not, please just log off, no problem.”


We're very intentional about not trying to make anybody feel uncomfortable or forced to do anything at all. Everything we do is voluntary in nature. But the result of that has been, we have tons of people applying for positions within the bank. We have crazy growth. We don't really focus a lot on sales and trying to get out and grow but we've averaged 34% a year growth for 14 years.


[00:14:52] JR: It’s a big growth for a bank.


[00:14:53] SK: Yeah. Well, the average is 3% in our industry. So, I just feel like the answer, as you and I talked about in Kansas City, I just feel like the answer to fewer and fewer people are going into a church. Corporate culture is getting worse and worse within companies, and I feel like bringing God's love into our businesses can help us solve both of these things and that's really what we've seen.


[00:15:21] JR: Man, that's really beautiful. It's having an impact on your team. But you talk about on your podcast and elsewhere, this Kingdom Culture. Obviously, some members of your team are citizens of that Kingdom, some are not. But I'm wondering what you think the impact is with customers, right? If a customer went to Regent Bank that has this “Kingdom Culture,” what's different from the customer's experience at Regent Bank versus some other bank that is not following the values, if you will, the core values of the Kingdom of God?


[00:15:56] SK: That's a really, really great question. So first of all, the customer is not going to see anything overt. That is not our goal. We're not trying to market with this. We don't have big fishes.


[00:16:07] JR: Yeah, you're not putting fishes on your – it’s deeper than that, which is why love it.


[00:16:11] SK: It’s much, much deeper than that. Let me just share a very quick example. It starts with the employee, and then it goes to the client. So, one of the things I didn't mention earlier, which is critical, and obviously, probably the foundational component to what we do is called relational leadership. And our employees, all of our managers are required to spend at least 30 minutes a week with all of their direct reports, and you cannot talk about work. You can only talk about whatever that employee wants to talk about. So, you're just asking them how they're doing? Is there anything we can do to support them? They can talk about work if they wish, but it is not a performance review and not supposed to be. It's literally, “Tell me about you.”


So, I've had these – we all had, but I personally have had these wild experiences, where I am talking to the employee, and I think one thing about them, I assume this is how they were raised. This is their situation. They're very well dressed, for example. Have on nice shoes. I think they must have come from a very wealthy family, and what I find out is just the opposite. By the way, they are going through very, very difficult times. In many ways, we can often help them. Help them find daycare for their children. Help them, they can work from home right now, because of a situation they're going through. I can help make a contact through one of the social service agencies to help one of their family members.


I mean, there are things we can do when we learn what is going on. Well, that then becomes passed along to the client, okay. And we have had multiple examples of where a client is clearly distraught, has something going on in their life. Our people, many of them will say, “How can we assist you? Can I pray with you? What can we do to help you?” And that same love gets passed along. I have, my inbox is honestly full. I have a folder where I keep, I've gotten three of them today, where somebody will email me and say, “I've never had an experience like this anywhere, much less at a bank.” Banks are normally very unfriendly.


[00:18:30] JR: Yeah. Banks are right up there with rental car services, right?


[00:18:32] SK: Yes, we're awful. We're snooty. It's intimidating anyway, and people will go, “I've never felt the love that I have felt in your organization.” But that's because we're showing that love to the employee, who is in turn, showing that love to the client.


[00:18:49] JR: I talk about this all the time with executives and founders, the happiness of your customers can never rise above the happiness of your team, right? Disney is case in point. Chick-fil-A is case B. There are so many good examples of this. But what I love about Regent Bank is these are really Kingdom ideas, showing love for the whole person beyond their productivity. The bank is doing that with the employees and the employees are kind of naturally it sounds like, extending that same genuine love to clients. That's really beautiful.


By the way, you may not remember this, in Kansas City, first time we met, two minutes into the conversation, I was telling you about the podcast, you’re like, “Oh, man. Yeah, we do some radical things in our bank.” I was like, “Yeah.” I kind of rolled my eyes. This is radical, requiring your team to spend 30 minutes a week with direct reports and not intentionally talk about work. That's a radical thing.


[00:19:51] SK: I stole it from another company. I am big enough to admit this. There is a homebuilding company in Lubbock, Texas, called Betenbough Homes who practices this, and I learned it through one of their senior managers. It was challenging, because all the managers are like, “How in the world am I supposed to have that kind of time?” It forces you, and in many instances, we had to do some restructuring, because people had too many direct reports, so you can't have 10 of these a week. You can have five of these a week. So, we had to do some restructuring, even hiring some additional managers.


But the net result, I'm just telling you, you see the mental illness in our country, and we know the mental health statistics, and that is not – our employees are not immune to that. They need to know that somebody cares about them, is there for them, is not going to use this information against them, but it's just going to help love them, not as a means to an end. It is radical. I actually shared this with the church this morning, and they even thought it was radical. I was speaking to the staff of the church, and they're like, “Whoa, we have never heard of anything like this.” And when you see it in action, it is magical. Truly.


[00:21:14] JR: Yeah, and it's radical, but it's so Christ-like, right? You read the gospels, look at Jesus proactively going to people. Like Isaiah, running over to this pitcher, you're running to your team, you're being proactive. You're not waiting for problems to arise, and then bringing them to you. You're chasing after them and saying, “Hey, we're just going to make space on the company's dime, to just connect as human beings.” I got to imagine, in this moment, when people are still suffering with tremendous mental illness and depression post-COVID, man, that's gotta be – people have gotta be excited to come to that kind of work environment, which probably why your culture scores are through the roof.


[00:21:54] SK: Yeah. I think that it is. It's just so unusual for people. Normally, they'll come on board and go, “Oh, we thought this was too good to be true. There's no way this type of a culture can actually exist.” Now, is it perfect, Jordan? No way. I mean, literally, before I jumped on this podcast, I visited with a manager of ours who's experiencing tremendous stress, because a lot of his employees have been promoted within the bank, and he's got a lot of new employees, they've made some mistakes, he's feeling a lot of pressure, and I just had to come back to that whole, “We love you for you. Man, you've been here five years, you've done a phenomenal job. We're not about firing you because you had a couple of outages recently with new employees. You have to let this go and not let the anxiety eat you alive.”


So, it's not as if we're all sitting around singing Kumbaya. But the overall feeling that you get is that these people truly love each other. When you marry that up with a set of core values that we live, it's a poor word to use, but religiously, we stick to them very, very heavily. It takes away a lot of the management issues and a lot of the employee problems that I think a lot of people experience in the workplace.


[00:23:24] JR: Yeah. Go back to the situation you just mentioned with this manager right before recording this podcast, because this is an issue I hear a lot of Christian entrepreneurs or just Christian managers in general deal with this tension between – or maybe it's a perceived tension between mercy and excellence. So, you got a member of your team who's not performing, their team is not performing up to the bank's high standards of excellence. And yet, you feel compelled to show mercy and compassion. Biblically, we're commanded to do that. Are these two ideas, mercy and excellence at odds for you, Sean? And if not, how do you think about the tension between these ideas?


[00:24:06] SK: We still have to exhibit excellence. As we talk to our team, and as we talk about our core values, and as we talk about leading with love and all of the things that we try to do, we do stress to every single employee that – think about how this would play out, so, we have this very loving, caring culture, but our employees are doing a terrible job.


[00:24:34] JR: Well, that's not loving, right?


[00:24:36] SK: That's not loving. And that's not the witness that we are wanting to share. Excellence has to be part of this. Now, what doesn't have to be part of it, however, is fear, being surprised by a boss that comes in and fires you up when you didn't expect it. We can give very, very honest feedback. One of our core values is always be truthful and transparent. So, I can give you very honest and open feedback, but I can do it in love, as opposed to trying to embarrass you in front of the other employees or trying to make you look bad.


I gave this employee feedback. I talked to him about, “What type of oversight are you practicing? How quickly are you looking into these problems whenever they come up?” “Well, not very quickly.” “Well, that's something you should do.” So, we are brutally honest. We utilize a management operating system called Traction. And within Traction, it has what's called a people analyzer. So, every quarter, I sit down with every direct report, to all of our managers, and I rate my employees on all of the core values, how they're living them, and their performance. And so, they know how they're doing.


We do have to let people go, Jordan. I mean, we do have to write them up. We don't want to, but we do have to provide excellence within the organization. Otherwise, all of our, as I mentioned earlier, all of our witness, all the things we're trying to do goes down the tube. Frankly, we cannot continue to exist as a company if we are not doing a good job for our shareholders.


[00:26:19] JR: Yeah, and excellence is an expression of love. It's a flavor of love, if you will. But I like that shade of nuance that you colored in there, though, right? Mercy is found in how we pursue excellence, how we manage towards excellence, how we share information, and radical candor, and feedback with our team. That is merciful, in a way, because there's no surprises, right? Having an open dialogue about these things. And I love this.


So, Sean, these are some radical things in the way you guys are running this bank. I'm curious if you have seen multiple instances, maybe even just one instance, of running the business in this way, actually bringing somebody to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Have you seen that happen in the bank?


[00:27:09] SK: About 10 times. I will tell you, of the 10 that I am aware of, and that's going to be close. That's going to be really close to the number. It may not be exact. Probably seven, six or seven of them have occurred in my office.


[00:27:26] JR: Wow. What does that conversation typically look like? How does that conversation initiate, Sean?


[00:27:32] SK: It would be like a situation that I had today. Normally, the conversation opens up with the employee struggling with something. So, they come in, because they are looking for prayer, or just somebody to talk to, or maybe advice, most often not. Most often, they just want somebody that they can visit with. And we talk about that and we and we pray about that. If led, and this is what's critically important, this whole thing has to be Holy Spirit led. Okay, it cannot be – and one of the hard parts, as I mentioned, I'm trying to put together a book about this, so people can learn that you can bring God into your companies.


But the hard part about it is, it's different in every company. This is not formulaic, so what I'm going to tell you is not – this is not formulaic. It's not, you get to the end of the prayer. But when I feel led, I will say, “Jordan, do you have a relationship with Jesus? Do you know Jesus in your life?” If the person says – and there's been times when they – most of the time, they will say, “Yes, I do.” And I'll say, “That is awesome. You just need to cling tight to him through this time.” Sometimes they will say, “No.” And I will say, “Would you like to? Is that something that you would like to pray about today?” Sometimes they will say, “No, I'm not real comfortable with doing that today.” That's fine. I immediately step back, and I will say, “Hey, 100% cool. I'm not trying to make you feel uncomfortable.” They say, “I don't feel uncomfortable at all.” But seven times for me, they have said, “No, I don't have a relationship with Jesus.” And I'll say, “Would you like one?” And they will say, “Yes, I would love one.” I'll say, “Would you like to pray a prayer with me, so that you can have that?” And they say, “Yes.” It is that simple.


[00:29:42] JR: Sean, what do you think of the preconditions that have led to those moments? When you look at those seven conversations, what were the common denominators leading up to that moment?


[00:29:53] SK: Well, stepping back, you have to have a close, personal and loving relationship with that employee, okay? So, it's not something where I would walk in the door to somebody I don't know and start beating them over the head with the Bible. I would not do that. So, it's got to be natural, and the main kind of predisposition here is that they know why I love them, and vice versa. We have a relationship. That is critical.


But I do think that, I believe, I do not do this every day. So, I want to stress this. But my goal is to live each day out where I am, in essence on a spiritual scavenger hunt. So, I'm working hard. I'm staring at a seven-page to-do list right now. I got about 130 phone calls I need to make. I got plenty to do. I've got a busy job. So, it's not like I'm just sitting around here with nothing to do. But during the day, what I am constantly praying is to be very, very aware of the presence of God. So, what I am trying to do is be led appropriately. Most of the time, it does occur when that employee is going through a difficult time. They've sought me out. They've come in here. They've asked for prayer. I've not forced it on anybody. They are the ones that took the first step, and I typically just take it another step by just asking if they have a relationship with Jesus. That's what I see the most.


[00:31:32] JR: I love it. I want to make this crystal clear. My audience likely knows where I'm going with this, because I talked about a lot here on the podcast. Even if you never had seven people come into your office and pray that prayer, I would argue, I think scripture speaks very loudly that your work of just loving those employees still has tremendous value to God. Number one, because it's simple obedience to the greatest commandments, right? And number two, because it gives people tastes and samples of the kingdom, not commend you for going the extra step and leveraging that love to the instrumental end of explicitly sharing the gospel. I think we all need to be doing more of that. But just loving people in and of itself is good and God honoring. Right, Sean?


[00:32:21] SK: Very good. When I grew up, Jordan, my mom was a bank teller and my father was and is a farmer, and we would get together at the end of the day, much to my sister and I’s chagrin, and we would have dinner together, and dinner would normally consist of, “How was everybody’s day? How was school today? Good, good?” And then they would begin to brag about their jobs. Okay. That was every night of my life.


My objective for all this isn't to try to turn our business into a church, and it isn't to have altar calls or sprinkle water on people's heads or anoint them with oil. We're not trying to do that. What I'm trying to do is create a culture where when people go home, and sit down for dinner with their family, they can actually talk positively about where they work, and the people that they work with, and the good news that happened to them in the day. I just happen to believe, like you do, that the best way to do that is to bring God into the equation. I just think that all love comes from God. And as you said, when we show others love, it is going to reflect on Him so wonderfully, whether we're doing conversions or not. That's not the point. That's a byproduct.


[00:33:51] JR: Amen.


[00:33:52] SK: We just need to show love.


[00:33:54] JR: It's so well said, and creating that environment where people love their jobs, is giving them a longing for what can only be fulfilled through Christ. Isaiah 65 says, “On the New Earth, we will long enjoy the work of our hands.” Right? Only in Christ can that be – this idea of a job that we love to talk about, be ultimately true. Whether or not they know it, you're planting that seed and a desire for that in their hearts right now. Sean, do you have kids?


[00:34:28] SK: I have three kids.


[00:34:28] JR: What have you done, because I'm thinking about this with my kids, I got young kids seven, five and two. What are you doing right now, or have you done historically, around the dinner table, around the house to help them see that work is not a meaningless means to an end, but a good gift from God?


[00:34:47] SK: We always pray before each meal and then we always do orchids and onions, which are, “What's the best thing to happen to you today? And then what was the challenge?”


[00:34:58] JR: That’s like the most Oklahoma thing. That just feels very Oklahoma-y, orchids and onions. I love this so much.


[00:35:06] SK: I stole that from somebody too. Everything I do, I’ve stolen from somebody. So, we do that and we're just very open. I mean, the kids, we talk a lot about business. We're entrepreneurs. We're involved in a lot of stuff and they're very curious. And so, yeah, we talk a lot about using business for good. What I was just sharing with them the other day. If you have a chance to watch any of the Little League World Series, you will see that the announcers, over and over, keep talking about the Oklahoma coach who's always smiling. “Why is this guy – he's so upbeat, even when they're behind?” It's because, now I am intense, and there were moments I wasn't particularly proud of when the microphone was live. But for the most part, it's because a relationship with Jesus Christ, for me, gives me a better perspective.


I don't live in fear. I'm not living in scarcity. I am understanding that this is just a game. This is not our whole life right here. This is a game that's meant to be – to have fun. I think what that's allowed us to do, and we've showed this to our kids, is to create a culture where you can be forgiving, you can be caring, you can be loving, you can give people feedback and love. Work can be like it was supposed to be back in Jesus’ days. They worship, they worked, and they served all together. It doesn't have to be totally separate.


[00:36:43] JR: I'm so glad you brought up your unparalleled joy. I mean, we probably only hung out, we probably only talked for 10 minutes at this event in Kansas City. But man, your joy is just contagious. It's unbelievable. I got to imagine, it's part of the reason why those seven people in your office are like, “Yeah, I want whatever Sean's got, because that joy is hard to come by in this world.” Beyond meditating on the hope you have in Christ, Sean, how do you cultivate that joy? What do you think you do, day in, day out, week in, week out, to really cultivate and stir up that joy?


[00:37:25] SK: On our daily devotional this morning, I was just talking about the importance of mornings and starting our day the right way. I'm a big prayer walker. I'd love to go on a 45-minute walk in the mornings and just pray during that time. I think it anchors me to Christ as I start the day. But honestly, it really goes back, Jordan to a miracle that I experienced and I'm going to give you the 30-second version here. We bought the bank back in 2008. I had an immense scarcity mentality. Our family had had some money problems growing up. And I really, really had a difficult time. I always thought the sky was falling, and the worst was always going to happen to me.


As you know, in the fall of ‘08 and ‘09, we had the mortgage crisis, and our bank began to do very, very poorly. We lost tons and tons of money. All of my worst fears were coming true. We were about to go under. If we didn't find $3 million in additional capital, we were done. I had an experience in church where God spoke to me and asked me if I believed that he was my healer. And two days later, I was at the bank and I get a call from the US Treasury Department. I think they're calling to shut us down. They are calling to tell me that we have been selected for the Capital Purchase Program, and they would like to invest $3 million in our bank. The $3 million came into the bank that day.


So, I always tell people, and I shared that with this church this morning. I have such joy, because I'm really kind of playing on house money. I'm sitting here leading a billion-dollar organization with full of amazing people, when in reality, if God hadn't come through for me back then, I probably would be out here picking up trash on the side of the street in orange jumpsuit, and not my alma mater, OSU orange. I mean, it was not looking good.


I have learned on a very personal level that God, He loves me, and He cares about me, and He cares about what I'm going through in my life. And I've learned that it's not my role to carry all of these burdens, that I am supposed to give those to Him, just like the Bible tells us to do. So, I have good days and bad days. You caught me on a good day, and we really clicked immediately. I love visiting with you as well. But my days are not the roller coaster that they used to be. I just choose to trust in God. I'm going to do the best I can every single day. I'm going to let the chips fall where they may, and I'm going to believe in Him for the best.


[00:40:19] JR: Man, reminds of a John Piper, I mentioned, I don't know, roughly every other episode of this podcast, “My job is faithfulness. God's job is fruitfulness.” Once you get that straight and know that ultimately, we don't produce an ounce of results in our businesses. All results come from Him. See Deuteronomy chapter 8. Man, it takes the pressure off, right? And allows us to just do the work as best as we can and leave the results to Him. So freeing, right?


[00:40:52] SK: Well, this morning, Jordan, we have an insurance division. The head of our insurance division had made an offer to a top shelf employee benefits executive from another company. We had talked with her extensively and she was all in and she was ready to go. Before she went in to give her resignation, she got a pretty phenomenal counter offer to stay for huge amounts of money. So, she reaches out and we say, “Hey, that's really all – we're really doing the best we can do. We're really paying as much as we can afford to pay.” So, she decides to stay at her company. My employee is just distraught. I mean, he was so excited about this hire and took it very, very personally. He thought he had let us all down. I told him, I said, “That is not how this works. It's like my dad on the farm, he can only plant the seed, the rest of this has to come. God has to bring the rain. He has to bring the sun. He's the one that makes the plant grow. We can't do that. We can only do the best that we can do. You gotta let it go. It's fine. There's a reason that this is not happening.” There are very real examples of this, and we've just chosen, and I've just made a decision that I'm going to do my best, as we talked about, and God will take care of the rest.


[00:42:14] JR: It's rationally the easiest decision to make, because scripture tells us we can't grow anything anyways. First Corinthians 3:6, Paul is saying, “I planted the seed, Apollo's watered it, but God's been making it grow.” I'm not growing anything. I'm just responsible for planting. Apollo is going to come along behind me and water it. And all the results are in God's hands. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Whatever He brings, whatever result He brings, blessed be the name of the Lord.


Sean, three questions we love to wrap up every podcast with. Number one, which books do you find yourself recommending or gifting most frequently to others?


[00:42:51] SK: My favorite leadership book is Love Works.


[00:42:57] JR: Yeah, great book.


[00:42:58] SK: It is a great book. It’s not a particularly well-known book. But, man, I think it just talks about eating with a kingdom heart. I just love it.


[00:43:07] JR: When you were talking about your performance reviews with your team and measuring them against your core values and against performance, I was thinking about Love Works. And for those of you listening, if you want a terrific taste of that book, go back and find the episode of the Mere Christians podcast with Joel Manby. It's one of my all-time favorite episodes.


[00:43:27] SK: Awesome. I didn’t even know he had been on your show. Oh, wow. That's a great one. Traction is a phenomenal business book that I referenced earlier. We utilize that as a management operating system that I think is phenomenal. And then The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace is a very recent favorite.


[00:43:50] JR: Yeah, it’s a good book.


[00:43:51] SK: That may not be the exact title of it, but it's close.


[00:43:53] JR: That's pretty much it. It's Gary Chapman, five, love, workplace, just google that, you’ll find it.


[00:43:59] SK: That's a good recent one.


[00:44:01] JR: That’s good. Sean, who would you most like to hear on this podcast talking about how the Gospel shapes the work we do in the world?


[00:44:08] SK: That is a good question. Craig Groeschel, who is the pastor of Life Church here in Oklahoma, is fantastic. I think a guy that really, really speaks with a lot of wisdom. The gentleman that wrote the book Halftime.


[00:44:26] JR: Yeah, Bob Buford.


[00:44:27] SK: Bob Buford, that would be another one. You may have already had all these people.


[00:44:31] JR: I have not. I have not. I know Craig's coming soon. I've never asked Bob, but that's a good answer. I don't think I've ever heard that answer.


[00:44:39] SK: And then I would highly, Jordan, I would highly recommend the people from Betenbough Homes in Lubbock, Texas, and that's their last name. It's B-E-T-E-N-B-O-U-G-H, phenomenal. They have a movement called Kingdom at Work. And, oh, my God, you guys are singing from the same hymnal, I’m telling you.


[00:45:00] JR: that's a good answer. Sean, what's one thing from our conversation you want to reiterate to our listeners before we sign off?


[00:45:07] SK: That you can bring the love of God with you, into your business, and never offend anyone of your co-workers. It is not an either or. I am not talking about bringing tracks to work and leaving it in their chair and making them feel uncomfortable. All I am talking about and espousing is caring. Living at a different level of caring about the people that you are around. They will see God. You don't have to bring God up. They're going to see that on.


[00:45:45] JR: My friend, Andy Crouch on the podcast recently said something along the lines of, “I hope there's enough evidence to convict me as a Christian.” I think that's the sentiment, right? If we're a friend, if we're the ones in our offices really caring about people, and not just their productivity, there's going to be plenty of evidence to convict us as Christians. We're not going to have to say it. We're going to need to, right? We gotta say it with words at some point. But man, that's a great reminder.


Sean, I want to commend you for the extraordinary work you do every day for the glory of God and the good of others. Thank you for reminding us of what a Kingdom Culture can look like in practice, and how our listeners can go about implementing the Kingdom in the present and just giving four tastes of the love of our King. Thank you so much for joining us, Sean.


[00:46:38] SK: Thank you, Jordan. Appreciate it.




[00:46:40] JR: Man, I loved that episode. I love Sean's heart. I love his contagious joy. Hey, if you've got somebody you'd like to hear on the podcast, let me know at Guys, thank you so much for tuning in. I'll see you next week.