Family Business

Proverbs 16:3
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

One year ago today, Olive Tree Bible Software officially became our family business. On a day when people around our country are reminded of a travesty and horror that fell upon our nation twenty years ago, I want to take a moment to ponder the goodness of God in His continued faithfulness to His people and to honor the husband God gave me.

Steven has labored for Olive Tree since early 2009, originally working in the basement of the company’s founder. It was a small business, but growing. There was obvious blessing from the Lord in paving the way for technology to be used in encouraging His people to study His Word, and my husband was eager to participate in the development. Using his background in both biblical studies and computer technology, he spent the next few years cultivating skills and passion for the particular niche of Bible study technology on smartphones and other personal tech devices.

While Steven moved up from position to position, gaining leadership skills and dabbling in just about every aspect of the company during his first five years at Olive Tree, he eventually took the position of running the company, even when it was owned by HarperCollins Christian Publishing. I don’t remember the first time my husband ever mentioned to me that it would be really neat to own Olive Tree himself, but it seemed like more of a pipe dream for a long time. Not that working for a huge corporation doesn’t have some blessings and benefits, but we really missed the small, local, family run business culture that the company had had the first few years. Steven never seriously thought about leaving the company to start something different, but there was a definite longing for business ownership and small business culture—to be free from red tape and city bureaucracy, to be able to focus on the particular vision for Olive Tree rather than be pulled in multiple directions under the larger umbrella of a big publishing house with agendas outside of our own company’s vision.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands… so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

It was early in 2019 when the conversation changed, and the discussion of owning Olive Tree ourselves became serious. No longer a simple pipe dream, but a strategic plan. While I am not at liberty to share all the ins, outs, ups, and downs of the process, it was quite the journey. Involving our parents from the beginning, and our children once the sale closed, it became a generational endeavor. Closing dates got pushed back more times than I can remember, particularly because trying to get all the legalities lined up with all the proper boxes checked at the right times felt like shuffling a deck of cards in a tornado. It was a real test of faith and fortitude. One of the trickiest parts was that this enormous project on our part literally had to be kept secret, under wraps. Only our parents knew. Employees, friends, prayer partners, our siblings, our children… keeping this huge thing quiet was a real challenge. Not because we can’t keep a secret. But because we legitimately know the value of shared burdens and partnered prayer. Our children got the short end of the stick, but thankfully the Lord is incredibly gracious to us, and they are fully engaged and supportive. It was hard for them when there was stress or tension in the house, meetings and appointments we couldn’t explain, etc. Now we have sons excited to intern for the company and continue the vision themselves, longing to wear the mantle of the family business when they are grown.

But it wasn’t until a year after we thought the sale might close that it actually finally did. Thanks to the crazy kafuffle of a virus that shut down our entire economy, things like small business loans were frozen and business trips to sign papers were no longer allowed. The funniest things put speedbumps in the way, and we could do nothing beyond simply holding out our hands to give all the details to the Lord, trusting His timing would be perfect, even when our deadlines and timelines were continually bumped and erased and bulldozed.

One year ago, my husband stayed particularly late at the office because it was finally happening. All kinds of details with technology and finance and passwords and passcodes had to be switched at the end of business day on September 11, 2020. And on Saturday, September 12th, we were suddenly (at the end of a long, drawn out, unpredictable process) the owners of a small family business intent on sharing the Word of God with others.

So now my husband works from home, has about twenty employees, and deeply loves the work he pursues. He loves technology. He loves Scripture. He loves providing for his family. He loves the intimate, somewhat crazy culture of the folks who work for him. And I am delighted to support and assist him in what small ways I am able. There are sacrifices and hopes, difficulties and rewards. It is good work, a good heritage, and we praise the Lord for putting work into our hands that we can share with every neighbor for the furtherance of His Gospel.

Colossians 3:23-24
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

I am proud of my husby. And I am grateful to our Lord.

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