Real estate was booming in the 1980s, and I was ready to join the action. I left a comfortable management position at Kaiser, eager for the challenge of going into business. As soon as I opened my new real estate office, the crash of 1990 devastated the housing market. With my wife staying home to care for our three children, I struggled alone to stay afloat financially.

Despite a horrible economy, I was proud that my hard work paid off. The business expanded, opening more offices and related businesses. I was able to achieve the “American dream” through my determination. I was a devoted Christian but took God for granted. I figured all was well since God was blessing me.

In 2008, the economy went south again and so did my businesses. Having built a thriving business during the last recession, I thought I would once more beat the odds. But hard work was not enough. I felt like a big failure, falling from success. Finally, after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, I made the heart-wrenching decision to close my businesses.

In the midst of my financial troubles, I saw God work in my life. He sustained me and reset my priorities. Success had become too important to me. Through failure, I was reminded that the loss was only monetary. There are more important things in life. No matter how bad my circumstances, God is with me in the midst of my troubles, and that is enough.

My days are now no longer stressful and I have time to enjoy life. What was once a side business in property management has grown enough to support us along with sales from past clientele trusting me to take care of them. God demonstrated His mercy through my failure.

Going through “better” and “worse” seasons has been a maturing process. I may not be where I want to be, but this is where I need to be. Material wealth is less of a concern; it comes and goes. But our relationships with God and with our loved ones are lasting and of the greatest priority. My worth does not lie in business success or wealth. It is because I know Jesus that I am secure. I am so grateful that my wife stood by me through my darkest hours with reassurance of her love and support. We stood together, united in Christ, and grew even stronger through this trial.

My advice for you young men: put your trust in God and give your heart to a worthy God-fearing woman. She will encourage you in your walk with God and be by your side through better or worse.


by Michael Lee