Can biblical principles really revolutionize your work and family life, and give you the courage to stand up for what is right? Two former professional baseball players and nationally-acclaimed real estate entrepreneurs say yes, based on the experiences they’ve shared as twin brothers.
Bible Gateway interviewed David Benham (@DavidDBenham) and Jason Benham (@JasonBBenham) about their book, Whatever the Cost: Facing Your Fears, Dying to Your Dreams, and Living Powerfully (Thomas Nelson, 2015).
To contextualize your book’s message, briefly describe your lives as twin brothers and sons of a preacher, your experience as professional baseball players, and your progression from struggling to successful businessmen.
Benham Brothers: We shared the same womb and then shared the same room for the first 22 years of life. Everything we did was together. We even shared the same dream of playing professional baseball. Except for our time in the Minor Leagues we’ve never been apart. We just felt that we could accomplish more if we stayed together. Now we live on the same street and have nine crazy kids that bounce between houses.
Our dad was a preacher who taught that our theology must be our biography. He said that if we studied the Bible and didn’t live it out in every area of life then our theology was worthless. So we grew up studying God’s Word and doing our best to apply it everywhere. He trained us in evangelism and how to be bold for Jesus even when we were afraid. He taught us that “the Word of God became flesh” and we weren’t supposed to turn it back into words again. Although he never had a big church, our Dad was faithful to disciple us in the Bible with every ounce of energy he had.
Dad noticed that we had talent to play baseball, so he taught us how to make our talents tools for God’s glory. As a result, we dreamed of making it to the Big Leagues so that we could glorify the Lord with the tool He’d given us on a big stage. Although we realized our dreams in part, we never made it to the Big Show. We had to die to that dream, which was one of the hardest things we ever had to do. Fortunately, we walked through this together, and we learned to find our identity in who we were in Christ and not what we did for Him that mattered.
Leaving baseball was tough because not only was our dream dead but we had families for which to provide—so we had to act fast! All we knew was that we needed to do something together. We got our real estate licenses and applied the same determination and discipline that we had on the baseball field to real estate. In less than a decade our company topped business charts around the nation by God’s amazing grace on a couple goofballs like us.
What do you see as the goal of sports?
Benham Brothers: The goal of sports is to build character and prepare kids for life. As a reflection of life, playing sports is one of the easiest ways apply the truths of the Bible—like working together, discipline, hard work, facing fear, following the rules, etc. The competitive environment also causes everyone to do their very best regardless of how difficult the situation may be or how hopeless it may look. We teach our kids that competition is meant to build others up, not tear them down. All of this combines to make sports an incredible tool to develop and disciple future generations in the timeless truths of God’s Word.
What is the “second mile” and why is it important in business?
Benham Brothers: Back in Christ’s day there was a Roman law that required Jewish people to carry the pack of a Roman soldier for one mile if the soldier asked them. This was a blatant slap in the face to the Jews, so when Jesus told them not to just carry it for one mile but to carry it two it was revolutionary. Carrying the pack the first mile simply fulfilled the obligation, but carrying it the second mile fulfilled Christ’s law of love. This opened doors into the soldier’s heart to listen to these Jewish believers give the reason why they were doing such a selfless act. This kind of love toppled the Roman Empire in just a few hundred years.
Explain how the title of your book, Whatever the Cost, is your guiding life’s philosophy.
Benham Brothers: We sing the songs and know the stories—that we are to surrender all to Jesus. Yet this is probably the most difficult truth of authentic biblical faith—and yet it’s the most powerful! The power of the cross is released in us when we surrender everything to Jesus and are willing to die for Him. Without this “whatever the cost” attitude we cannot truly know and love Him as He desires, and we cannot fulfill the purpose for which He created us. Jesus turned many away that weren’t willing to let go of everything to follow him. We’ve found in our own lives that if we’re living for Jesus whatever the cost in every area of life—including our reputation, business, money, influence, relationships, etc.—that Christ can work powerfully through us to bring His Kingdom wherever we go.
How central is reading and applying the Bible to your life’s philosophy?
Benham Brothers: John 5:19 says, “The Son can do nothing by Himself, He can only do what He sees the Father doing….” If it’s true for Jesus, then it’s true for us. Our Father has hidden Himself within the pages of Scripture, and only those who seek Him with all their heart will truly find Him. We began reading the Bible and seeking the Lord with all our hearts when we were 12 years old. Over the years we’ve been amazed at how alive and real His words are for every area of life. When it comes to reading God’s Word we agree with Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and David that God’s word is “as sweet as honey” in our mouths.
What do you mean when you say in your book, “consistently measure your inputs”?
Benham Brothers: The devil gets inside us in two ways: our eyes and our ears. Never before in the history of mankind has it been so easy and enticing to see and hear things that dishonor God. So we practice in our lives and disciple others to measure their eye and ear inputs on a daily basis. We record how much time we read/watch/listen to biblical truth vs. the time we read/watch/listen to other things. By measuring these inputs we can quickly assess weaknesses and make adjustments so that the power of God is maximized in our lives.
You offer 5 personal keys to success. Explain what they are and their scriptural underpinnings.
Benham Brothers: 1) Breathe life. We’re to breathe life everywhere we go, which means we’re to be God’s active agents of restoration, nourishing, and healing in the earth. John 7:38 says, “He who believes in Me…from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” And this water (the Holy Spirit) refreshes and restores everything in it’s path! Ezekiel 47:1-12 shows a beautiful picture of this as the same “water” flowed from the temple of God and made trees fruitful, fed fishermen, and made the parched areas fresh.
2) Be faithful in little. Luke 16:10 teaches that if we’re “faithful in little we’ll be faithful in much.” This simple, yet profound, truth shows God’s Kingdom in powerful ways when applied to all of life. It’s what God was looking for when he found young David faithfully tending his father’s sheep, and what He found in countless other people He used mightily throughout Scripture.
3) Be a fountain and not a drain. Fountains are always giving. Drains are always taking. The key to being a fountain is to simply stay connected to the Source. As our lives are connected to the Source (Christ) we naturally become fountains of life to everyone around us instead of draining their lives of the hope and joy He brings—for Christ “came to serve and not to be served.”
4) Give more in value than you take in pay. Ephesians 6:5-8 and Colossians 3:22-24 teach that when we work we’re to work for the Lord and not man. This means that no matter how much we’re paid, we’re to do our work with the same excellence as if Christ Himself gave us the job. This amazes employers and clients in the marketplace and opens incredible doors for the gospel as our work glorifies Jesus in this way.
5) Be a producer and not a consumer. Producers are creators. Consumers simply consume what producers create. Producers help others. Consumers take from others. Matthew 13:8 teaches that if the soil of our heart is to be a producer for God we’ll produce a “hundred, thirty, or sixty times what was sowed.” Applying this in our homes, businesses, and communities reveals Gods Kingdom in our midst.
You say “as Christians our work is our worship.” How so?
Benham Brothers: Work existed before the fall; it was part of God’s design for mankind. God Himself worked for six days showing His creativity and nature, and on the seventh day He rested from His work. Jesus said in John 5:17, “My father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” So if God is working then we are to be working too. And work is always serving; believers in Jesus are always to be serving God in whatever our hand finds to do (Col. 3:17). So our work becomes worship when we do it unto the Lord; others are refreshed and God is glorified.
Why do you believe more is accomplished in the “pain cave” than in the “comfort zone”?
Benham Brothers: Pain and suffering are tools that God uses to forge endurance, character, and hope in the life of believers (Rom. 5:3-5). Too often in America we as Christians distance from suffering instead of embracing it as it comes. The same is true with our health. We love to workout, so we strive to enter the “pain cave” as fast as we can and stay there as long as we can. This builds strength. But if we sit in the “comfort zone” there’s no chance of increasing our strength. Beating our bodies both spiritually and physically in the pain cave leads to powerful living.
What’s the connection between personal purity and professional performance?
Benham Brothers: Having a clear vision is vital to the health of every business or organization. And we learned that a clear vision only comes through personal purity. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” We started our business with a commitment to this level of purity in our company and personal lives, and it has produced significant power in our professional performance. Although we aren’t perfect, we’ve chosen not to mix the ways of God with the ways of world, which has allowed us to see God move powerfully in our company.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Benham Brothers: We see in Scripture that when we make peace with God we declare war on the devil. And two of the ways he tries to keep us from fighting him is to either scare us away or lure us away. He tries to scare us away with fear, which is why we must face our fears—because when we do, God fights for us. And he tries to lure us away by chasing our dreams or promises of God instead of the God of promise. When we face our fears and die to our dreams we WILL live powerfully for Jesus—whatever the cost! Our nation needs a remnant of believers ready to live like this.
Bio: After retiring from professional baseball in 2002, David and Jason Benham, twin brothers and acclaimed entrepreneurs, began building their business empire, growing it to seven companies spanning 35 states. Their first venture, the Benham Real Estate Group, exploded to 100 locations and was named by Inc. as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The brothers are married to Lori and Tori, with a combined nine children, and live on the same street in Charlotte, North Carolina.