Group merging leaders from success to significance

³Career is what you¹re paid for;

Calling is what you¹re made for.

Career is what you¹re hired to do;

Calling is what you¹re wired to do.²

The two dozen men meeting at a golf club in Rancho Santa Fe nod their heads in agreement with the speaker. Four times a year, this group of San Diego Christians, successful leaders in their professions and industries, meet as part of a three year coaching curriculum called The Master¹s Program (Jesus being the Master, of course).

Founded and led by Bob Shank, it grew from the theme in Bob Buford¹s book Halftime, that there comes a time in marketplace leaders¹ lives to move from success to intentionally applying their unique talents, gifts, experiences, and contacts toward the kingdom of God. Just as a team assesses itself in the locker room at halftime in a football game, these men are developing a game plan for the second half of their lives. There is a placard on the wall reminding the group of its mission, but instead of saying ³Play like a Champion Today² or ³Beat Stanford,² it reads: ³Preparing Christian Leaders to change their world and build God¹s kingdom through their irresistible lifestyles and influential acts of service.²

The group is diverse, and includes among others a banker, a farmer, a CEO of a biotechnology company, a pastor, a writer, a worship leader, and a real estate developer. A women¹s program meets separately, and is led by Bob¹s wife Cherie.

Some participants say they are looking for ways to have more impact for Christ¹s Kingdom in their personal lives and at work. Others are ready to move from the success of their business or professional lives to a life of significance for God. They listen to Shank, laugh as movie clips are shown to illustrate a point, and break into small groups for discussion.

For this session, like the four previous ones they have attended, they receive a notebook/playbook. The subject at the recent meeting is ³Leadership Leverage and Strategic Career Management.² Participants leave with a book to read before the next meeting, The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch. This San Diego group has also been given Transparent Christian Leaders and Transparent Christian Leaders II, written by Dwight L. Johnson, another attendee. Past books assigned provide evidence of the variety of the session topics covered: Faith-Based Fitness by Dr. Ken Cooper, Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby, and even Dale Carnegie¹s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

The men in The Master¹s Program express excitement about applying what they have learned. The session they attended back in the spring had been about creating ³best days² with their children and their wives. One shared his experience taking his 10-year-old son on a fishing weekend to Oregon. ³We¹d fish all day, then when we were done he¹d say, ŒDad let¹s go watch a movie.¹ I was tired, but it was great.² Another talked about his trip with his adult son to a weekend of Padres/Rockies games – in Denver. Many talk about having ³Dream Weekends² with their wives, in which they spend the weekend away from home sharing with each other their dreams and aspirations. Some say they were blown away as their wives shared dreams from their heart. Many of them echo Shank¹s statement, ³My job as a husband is to make my wife¹s dreams come true.²

The program touches many realms, from personal growth, to family wholeness, to professional success, to Kingdom significance. Vince Siciliano, a banker, said, ³The program is a great way to systematically bring balance, margin, and focus to your life and focus your career clearly on the role it plays in building God¹s kingdom.² Don Knox, an executive with a local real estate developer, said that he joined the program because, ³I was suffering from the same thing everyone else is, trying to balance career, family, and kingdom responsibilities. When I listened to and met Bob Shank, I realized I could pick up a life coach, an entrepreneurial life coach. Everything I¹ve learned has helped me develop margin and balance in my life, including business approaches that have helped my career.²

There is no shortage of inspirational stories from those who have completed the three-year program. One of the early groups in Orange County got back together to form the Barnabas group, whose purpose was to fund unique Christian ministries. Inspired by a Christian inventor, they began delivering inexpensive wheelchairs made from PVC chairs and mountain bike tires to third world countries. This year, they will deliver 80,000 such chairs, to some of the approximately 50 million men, women and children who cannot walk and cannot afford western-style wheelchairs.

Another man sold a home he owned and used the proceeds to buy several condominiums and to give them away to needy families. Still others discover their calling without ever leaving their careers. They become re-invigorated as they discover a new purpose for their contacts, unique talents, and skills right where they are. One San Diego participant said, ³I¹m in contact with people who are never going to listen to a pastor or an evangelist. Maybe my ministry is right here, to reach them, in a language they understand.²

Founder Bob Shank seems uniquely qualified to lead this program, which he began nine years ago in Orange County. He may be the only person to have served as president of a large company, as senior pastor at a mega-church, and as head of a large para-church ministry. He speaks the language of businesspeople and entrepreneurs, without losing the emphasis on the gospel. ³I carry multiple passports,² is how he puts it. And as a ³hobby,² he serves as program director/producer for Franklin Graham¹s Community Festivals around the world, as well as on the board of Samaritan¹s Purse and Greg Laurie¹s Ministries (Harvest Crusades).

Shank readily admits that the program is not for everybody. ³Less than 10% of the people in the world are leaders. I¹m not out to make leaders out of non-leaders. I¹m out to make people who are already proven leaders into better leaders.² He continues, ³Tiger Woods has a performance coach. You won¹t see him when Tiger¹s on the 17th hole, in the hunt. But you will see him on Tuesday, working with Tiger, and that work shows up on Sunday. I want to be there on Tuesday alongside the guys who are going to win on Sunday.²

This San Diego group is in its second year, and there is another group forming to begin its first year right now. For more information, call 877-827-5967 ext. 3 or check online at

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