As part of the 2015 Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast, Ken Churchill, a portfolio manager director and financial planner at a leading Silicon Valley-based financial services firm, shared his inspiring testimony and encouraged attendees to place their trust wholly in God -- even when it's difficult.
The event was held at the Stanford Faculty Club in Stanford, CA on Wednesday, September 30th, and sought to "showcase real stories of Christian faith in the everyday workplace," according to the organization's website.
Churchill, the event's keynote speaker, first revealed that while he was not raised in an overtly Christian home, God continually placed mentors in his life who served as positive influences: "God has blessed me with really impactful, significant relationships with older guy that I didn't even look for," he said.
Churchill's educational history is impressive: he received a BA degree from Wheaton College in Illinois and conducted graduate work at Harvard University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the University of Rhode Island.
After graduating from college, Churchill felt a burning desire to make an impact in the world. That desire led him to Africa along with his wife, Shirley, and eventually to Menlo Park in 1987, where he started his financial services firm.
"I think I had this fear that I would die one day, and nobody would look at me and say, 'This man had a significant life,'" he recalled. "So, over a period of several months, I joined over eight boards. I was going to have an impact."
Because he was so focused on making an impact, Churchill, then just 32 years old, was too tired at times to even attend church or focus on his spiritual life.
"I was so exhausted from working so hard and trying to be somebody," he said. The turning point in Churchill's life came when one of his close friends approached him and said, "I think you're stealing, you're stealing from your family...you have to allocate a certain amount of time for your family."
For the next eight years, Churchill shifted his focus to his spiritual life and his family, but had few other relationships: "It was a hard time in some ways, but also a good time in some ways. I was being remade as a man, as a husband, as a father -- in that order, before God could trust me."
"Since I became a Christian, I just prayed constantly that God would increase my faith," Churchill continued. "I remember sitting in church, and it was a real pivotal and humbling moment -- there were people sitting beside me, and I remember thinking, 'What can I say that will convince everybody that I am wise?' Suddenly I realized -- it's not about me. That was an absolutely transformative moment."
Several years later, Churchill experienced another life-changing moment while at a Starbucks coffee shop. "I was meeting with some young guy that someone had introduced me to, and we were just getting to know each other. I said something, and I saw this reaction on the guy's face. I just went bug-eyed, and I said, 'Wait a minute, I see what's happening! I see what God's doing! I know what he's doing now!' The guy was like, 'What are you talking about?' We were in the middle of talking about car parts or something!'
Churchill elaborated, "I wanted so desperately to be significant and be influential, and I had positioned myself in every way to get there. But when I gave it up and just let go and forgot about it -- I can see on your face that I'm influencing you right now!'
"I was so excited that I had been influential, because I wasn't trying to be -- we were just two friends talking," he said. "I thought, 'God, You are amazing!"
Today, Churchill undeniably makes an impact; in fact, the Starbucks manager off Sand Hill Road has dubbed him the "Mayor of Sand Hill Road. In addition to serving as a portfolio manager director and financial planner for individuals, start-up companies, corporations, and non-profits, Churchill works with refugees and mentors men in business and life.
"One thing Shirley and I have realized is that God constantly puts people in places where we have to trust him," Churchill continued. "That's one of the reason we had six kids. We had two, and I said, 'What about a third? ...After spending two weeks in prayer, we could hear God say, 'I want you to trust me.' It wasn't 'Trust me with your third one,' no, it was 'Trust me no matter what's ahead.' He wanted our trust."
Churchill then asked attendees, "Who are you betting on in life?" he explained: "If God says, 'This is how it is,' do you respond, 'That's not how I want it, that's not how it should be.' I ask you to think about that. Is that a good thing? I think sometimes we think we're smarter than God."
He also offered up a second question: "Are relationships really all that important?"
"I think they really are, they're what keep us alive, and through them, God allows us to let us live abundantly," Churchill concluded.