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April 6, 2020 2:00 am
Businessman Gary Ringger and his wife, Marla, reflect on how they took Gary's dad's simple pig feed business and, with God's help, built a thriving food business called Ringger Foods. Gary realized early on that God was the real CEO and embraced his role as steward, carrying out plans as God led. Gary and Marla also talk about their commitment to tithing and the contract they made with God to dedicate 100% of their business to Him.
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Gary ringer was a successful Christian businessman who wanted to operate his business in a way that was honoring the Lord one area. The word Gary says he had not yet fully surrendered himself to God was and how he thought about financial giving from the business are giving was limited to a post-tax time. So that was our thought process and and I do feel like the way we treat people the way we did business. We want to be God honoring but as far as giving it was our business and we would if you will to God as it increased. This is family life to her hosts are Damon and Wilson on Bob Lapine find us online and family life to a.com talk today to Gary and Marla ringer about how God got a hold of their hearts first and then got a hold of their business and transformed both and welcome to family life today.
Thanks for joining us.
I have to tell you, when I came across talk about the day I thought Dave's going like this really why because I know how fired up you get when people start to get radical about their faith definitely cure your that's too bad. I know you're talking about, you know the scoop and a pig for how that came about that well and some of our listeners are going what's relationship between big feet and be radical about your faith, but that's what were to learn today that I Gary ringer and his wife Marla are joining us as welcome to family life to the beer. Gary and Marla are from central Illinois and the story really here today is a story Gary that you asked, you wrote down in a book called radical business and most guys who live through what you live through him and got a great story to tell, don't take time to write a book. What was the prompting because you say I'm to write a book about our story about our life. What actually happened was Andy who works with me was want me to do it and it just seemed overwhelming, so it wasn't getting done and then one night Marla woke up in the middle of the night. If you look at the back cover.
She wrote that word for word. She wrote it as if it was me. The next morning she showed it to me and I thought I like that so became this Sweet journey.
I would write a chapter very poorly and then Marla would edit it then. My oldest daughter Megan would edit it. Then we get together at Panera and we get it together and read together making this walk down memory lane. That was a real great journey together well and what it became for you guys was an opportunity to really celebrate the goodness of God in a long journey that is a it's a pretty remarkable journey. What prompted you to wake up and start writing actually talked about writing the book and share stories with some of my friends they would take everything we tell another God story they they sell the hell I said I had on my mind and times that high process at night near back stage nightly. I lay there thinking about it and I just started thinking how should we introduce this book and those words came so I do think it was the Lord.
Let's go back to the beginning of the God story and that really starts when you got into the family business. Tell us about the family business, so the family business was a little feed business. We sold pig feed to local farmers.
I had say I was a lazy kid wondered if I would ever make it in business and so I went to work for dad on a college because I didn't know what else to do but dad sold and sold pig feet to area farmers you are business major and then studied economics while you're in college right didn't know what you wanted to do. If you want to play piano right I want to play piano. I told dad right after I got out of college that I work for you, but let's let me take six months off to learn to play the piano little better and he was a German worker and fellow who had my race Marla, when did you come into the journey or did you and Gary meet. We met at college. Although our churches had some interaction together. We both are from the same denomination. And actually there's a kind of acute story of how we first met we invited goodly Sunday school to visit us for a Sunday and he came as a senior I was a sophomore. During the Gridley church later and I was they came to Cessna and these are some names assist cornfields that wasn't really from my church. No and no. You know I like guys there bring their girlfriends with no fair. You know that I do remember the pastor had a special service just for the Sunday school kids who are visiting and he knew Gary's older brother lived with him in college and so he pointed. He said I know Gary ringer because I roomed with his brother Earl and so everything is looking to Gary in a way where you looking like you. Absolutely I did and then I babysat for this Pastor's kids and so when he asked a question.
He said I can pick on Marla because she babysits our kids and they all look back at me and he looked back at me and her eyes met. Oh lot that he still had his arm around his first. He stole his heart and I remember that I remember I remember to and I had say when I get married in the Marla that was when dad started having hope for me personally is partially that he you're pretty great in college are out of college. When you got another college I quit college my sophomore year work year, then got married. By this time you are fully immersed in the big the business going in the pig feed business and dad really wanted me to learn it from ground up.
So I went to work in the dusty feed mill that we had and I remember one of my friends saying, what are you doing doing this, you know, but I met a gentleman that was a nutritionist and he taught me how to mix the feed from ground up.
We before buying like two ingredients and mix them together and he taught me how to take 1015 ingredients and mix of feet and when that happened. Our prices went down so much that we could sell the product at a lower price to our customers so's a better value for them, but we made twice as much and when that happened that was like pretty cool that your dad was pretty crowded that he was again you you weren't sure what you wanted to do. So you're kind of in the pig feed business by default. That's right. Did you like what you were doing.
I really got to know dad in the business and we got along good. And so it was a real blessing. I had to add fine it will worked in the business and so was the family deal and I love the people in that and I start he had me going out selling which he knew that I'm, timid guy and if I have too much rejection that I'd be in trouble. So what dad did. Is he won't let me go out too much, but he would help me get my feet wet a little bit and that many pull me back in his sometimes I felt he was almost too restrictive but really good for me. He was nudging you he was nudging me and hold me back so I did burn out.
He was a great mentor. My greatest mentor in life when you came across this formula for twice the prophet set a lower price for the customer business took off. Did you start to see this can be much bigger than our pig feed business has ever been. Yes, because the margins were good.
We start making money and then we start hiring other cells because we could afford to pay a salesman and then as time went on I transform from this scared kid to somebody that was really business is really great I love it. If I'm your dad. I just discovered an incredible gift inside my son is I mean you found something he had never found brought a profitability to the company that was unheard of at the time right that it was like a totally different business. So is it like a lead this thing yeah dad was very involved and he was a lay pastor in our church and he was like the lead pastor at that point time I was was wanting more of his input and he basically said Gary, you know, you may want more of me now, but you live your friends. I have a dad for their business partner. As time goes on their dad's hold on and you can be glad that I'm the whole month so he was just handed to me and he was busy he didn't have an office at work. He just would come in and it did make the circles and he was a real positive guy in the most positive guys ever met. He would come and would be immersed in problems and he would come. It's a great day to be a lie and say and we are like okay your spiritual lives like at that point Christ has always been front and center. And so we were raising our kids to know him and that was very important part of our lives. Was that true in the business.
Because I read in the book you said my goal was to be a millionaire by 40 or whatever to meet retire at 40, that's right. It sounded to me like early on it was like yeah following Jesus. But when it comes to business I got I've got other priorities we would say that our business belong to the Lord right we would say that our giving was limited to a post-tax type that was our thought process and I do feel like the way we treated people the way we did business.
What we want to be God honoring but as far as our giving. It was our business and we would if you will to God as it increased did you feel good about that. You work you were fine with that as a way of thinking that was just what I was taught and and my mindset was that was the tides was that was what was about and so you get to appoint those pretty interesting in your story in the book where you write out a contract.
That's right, to God, so something was going on. Tell us what happened there.
By the time I was in my early 30s and I'm thinking I'm quite the business guy and I visited a craft food plant and I remember walking room to room and I saw all these processes in different foods being made and I thought this is a lot bigger than any feed business I've ever seen in isotope Marla were to get into the food business and I didn't know what I was going to do, but I am fairly creative is sometimes too creative and so I start talking to people and before long I had met a lady that wanted to find some of the blend don't sugar for her and I figured we knew how to blend feed we can blend don't sugar until we started ringer foods so so then we start ringer foods and that's when I'm tell Marla a babe were going to get rich Morgan retire 40 were gonna live the American dream and I would be have thought that you know will got tied on this like that.
But what happened is as I started that journey thinking very highly of myself when we were losing money. So that was hurting my pride had it can repent the dad because I felt like I had not put as much emphasis on the foundation he had given I came in when there was a foundation in starting a business. Ringer foods was a lot different, but the big thing was I never had thought about too much except now we are making food and you know if you mess up a batch of pig feed he maybe heard a pig. What happens if you mess up some food and were making this don't sugar this not going be cooked and so I just start freaking out and I would get and I got to this pattern.
It was just over a 3 to 5 month period work.
Night after night 12 in the morning. It was pretty much like clockwork. I'd wake up and I was sweating my heart beating my head and I would just lay there thinking all kinds of dark thoughts like God for people to kill somebody with bacteria tainted foods and it just start freaking me out and and then because it happened night after night I got sleep deprived and you know what happens then. Then I got into depression and desperation and then I just wanted out.
Marla what was going on in your mind not scary in the stress and depression. Yeah, I remember one night in particular, he woke up and he was a mask. He said Marla you gotta pray for me and so I we knelt down by her bed and I prayed for him and I mean that probably happen twice. Where I really noticed it in the middle of the night on a day-to-day basis.
I was busy with three little girls. He went to work and he'd come home every night that I was not living that responsibility and I was preoccupied with the girls and I honestly didn't feel it like he did. I mean, I knew that he was struggling but he didn't really talk about it a lot at home other than a few times at night when it went way came out was the company and financial risk. Yeah that's getting back to being sleep deprived and also God was breaking me. So that was the good news, but this ringer fees was doing great ringer foods with borrowing money from ringer feeds, so it wasn't like we were in trouble. Also we had to do was quit and focus on ringer feeds and everything's cool and that's frankly what I want to do. I'm just going to the point where I'm's tired of this. I just let my life back. I don't care about the American dream retirement 40 so that's was my thought is, I just wanted to quit, but I didn't have a piece about that then God was not given me peace about that and going to your question.
That's what led to the contract. So what was the contract so the contract was written on eight and half by 11 piece of paper with the pen and basically said that God if you take this failing business which it was and if we ever's make it successful.
And we ever sell that will pay ourselves back what we invested +8% interest in anything over and above that will use for ministry not having any idea what that ministry might be, but just saying you notice years and then that gave me purpose I remember is as you tell that story because I know the rest of the story of what happened in your case, but I remember of a guy who came to family life and and God had placed on his heart that they should give to family life that particular year and he said I set aside a month and all profits from that month, or what were to donate the family life and we thanked him.
He later told us that he picked what he knew had historically been the lowest year so he was, you know, he was had to is little doubt but he was he's give a whole month profits to family ripened and it's because he believed in the mission and what we were doing that month turned out to be the biggest month in his company's history and at the end of that October when he sit and looking at the books he's going now. Is there a way to renegotiate with God, but he people back and said, isn't it interesting how when you turn things over to the Lord and say okay this belongs to you now and as you said were to pay off our debts and will pay the interest back but anything else becomes the Lords somebody I forget who was it said it, but the somebody is said that the world is not seen what God will do through the man who doesn't allow money to stick to his fingers. The person who is focused on giving. All of a sudden God says I can use this person that I can advance kingdom purposes and bring joy to you in the process. Yeah and and you'll notice that I didn't give ringer feeds I gave you ringer, failing that have been had no value, which was the most intriguing part of this book to me carrying this because he said the business no longer belong to me right belong to God, he started having discussions with God about your business right like he was eating with you. I love it.
I got want to hear what you said but you prayed where I pray I pray and hot tub over to look at the heavens.
It is a beautiful place. I tilt my little one. But there are serious about their spiritual life they need to get hot. Are you listening okay this is why I believe my life would really seriously what he is asking is that in that moment when you get the loan now probably daily. Your anxiety was daily, so now it's a different spin. That's right. So with me and even today, when I first wake up in the morning.
Things look overwhelming. That's just kind of my nature. So at that point, I have a failing business. I'm still depression you don't get into depression right away.
You don't get out of it right away so I wake up right outside her bedroom door outside and would live along the river is this hot tub and so I stumble onto the hot tub and the other thing that was really cool.
At that point is, as I'm looking into prayer I read of these excerpts of some early Christians and these guys were early Christians right after Christ ahead and martyred for their faith. But what I noticed about they wrote was concerning the Lord's prayer and I had memorized that as a kid, but what I took from these essays is that's what how they prayed, so I got to pattern just same way. I pray today I got to the hot even if it was in the afternoon and then I would think about who God sent and Bill Bright is one of my heroes and I let his read his 13 attributes and I memorize those I would go through those and that you don't.
He's all powerful, all-knowing, why am I so shock and then when I would get to that kingdom come, thy will be done. I would think about. To me, I don't know that for sure. That's what Christ meant, but to me it was like submitting whatever your will is who cares about what I want and then when I would get to give us today our daily bread.
Then I would start had had this prayer list about okay what about this and I would start asking him questions about business because I was in this tangible partnership before that prayer was this discipline that I knew was important. I was a believer, but it was this like five minutes a day really focused time that I had to focus enough on my mind would wander be like. I slap my hand can't.
But now this became up to an hour a day just out there falling asleep part of the time just relaxing with my father and then I start experience him in ways I never have had some real wrinkled skin is worse laughing about it, but if you're doing that daily. It transformed your anxiety and guess and I again not in one day. But what happened is that the worry that things waking up at night. The stress I had say I'm to strange mix of very optimistic and a warrior that dad is the most optimistic person I've ever known. And mom would worry about anything and so I have that so still today there's things that will bother me in the morning but this morning I had to be down here so I can do that some of the more anxious, but but in general if I I hit the hot and I spend that time and it it is life transforming. You know you can pray another place you signed a contract and said, okay, God, this business belongs to you in order to hear more this week about what God's done about the ministry that has come out of that.
But God started to do work in your business the bigger work God started to do was in you. That's right and I'm just wondering what you would say I don't know how my folks were listing on their own business. A lot of folks work for other people. How does this principle apply to folks who are listening this whole idea of surrendering stewardship and say really I'm I'm a steward of God's stuff.
I'm not an owner, how would that transform somebody's daily life. From a business perspective, I feel like the contract made it tangible. I feel like anybody can do that but for Gary ringer before when I had this type of mentality. It wouldn't of got there because I was still mined in the end, no matter how big it got. I plan to tie and so what I've been taught by other people is the finish line mentality which means you say how much is enough and then the rest you give away so my personal biases. If a business owner makes that type of commitment where he says how much enough, and then the rest is yours Lord.
Then, for me at least. Then if he becomes more of a tangible partner because no matter how big it gets, steward, and the owner gets the increase not to steward now that it did help to write down a lot of us have made these foxhole per se. If you do this I'll do that now you know it just goes away, but was there something to put down on paper like it was real yet what was definitely that and we would be here if I hadn't, so the rest the story is on that is my dad. My greatest mentoring life as time went on and as ringer food star become successful and then we got to point where God opened the doors for us to sell in a very God way. Then dad had forgot about the blood sweat and tears because he hadn't gone through so and I have a brother and sister, and he says you know Gary, I want to give to your brother and sister and I said will, dad, did you forget about the contract and will yeah so I at that point I brought it out. I showed it to dad dad's a man of God and right away he doesn't want to go against her because he had signed it to. He was 50% on any if you know my personality and very forgetful very absent-minded and if you if we win the road down.
I would've thought will what did we really do yeah I would say you know you have to be a business owner. Amen to struggle with stress and anxiety and fear and worry about your life and about finances and about the future, I would say today's the day to write a contract you know whoever you are, just like would be like to sit down and really mean this God my life is yours lately with given freedom to because he couldn't pray in good faith. God help me to get rich so that I can retire at 40 but now he could say Lord blesses business because it's yours and I'm in a benefit more than what we've already decided.
I've met people like you some amazing folks and just heard amazing stories of people of said here's what were to live with and they kinda What their life's gonna be yeah and then they've set everything else goes to God and some of them never dreamed what God would do and find themselves tempted. On the other side to go. Maybe we should keep more this for ourselves and yet they found such joy in being vessels being channels for what God is wanting to do all around the world. We got copies of the book you written Gary and her family left at a resource center called radical business from ownership to stewardship and anyone who is in business.
This is a great book that this will change your perspective on what God has designed for you to do as a business owner go to family life to.com to order a copy of Gary ringer's book radical business from ownership to stewardship.
You can order online at family firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call one 800 FL today to order website is family life to a.com or call 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today to get a copy of Gary ringer's book and we want to say a special thank you today to those of you who have burden on your hard for marriages and families. Those of you who align with our passion and our vision here at family life. Our goal is to effectively develop godly marriages and families who change the world one home of the time and we know there are some of you who pray for us regularly. Some of you who are involved in reaching out in your community to help strengthen marriages and families in your neighborhood in your church where you live, and there are some of you who make this radio program possible. You help us reach more people more regularly through your financial support of family life to thank you for partnering with us in this ministry because we believe that we can change the world one home at a time. If you've never donated to support family life to you can do that easily email@example.com or call one 800 FL today to donate and we hope to hear from you.
Thanks for your support of all that God is doing through this ministry and we hope you can join us back again tomorrow. Gary and Marla ringer will be here again to share with us the burden that God put on their kingdom that has blossomed into a pretty significant ministry story tomorrow.
I think our engineer today. Keep links along with our entire broadcast team on behalf of our hosts and Wilson on Bob Payne back next time for another family life, family life to days the production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas crew ministry help for today hope for tomorrow