This post was written in partnership with Patriot Depot, a sister company of The Western Journal.
Terry Looper is the head of Texon, one of Houston’s five largest private revenue producers.
With just that opening sentence, you’ve probably formed an image in your head of just the kind of person he is. Striver. Ninety-hour work weeks. Neglected family. Running on caffeine and ambition. Curt with employees, especially those who can’t produce. Grabbing for money wherever he can get it.
And that’s exactly the kind of person Looper has taken steps not to become — at least not again.
Looper donates 50 percent of his income to charity. His company, Texon, was listed as a “best place to work” by the Houston Chronicle. He refuses to set sales goals. He keeps to a strict 40-hour week — and others in Texon do the same. Most importantly, his experience has allowed him to develop a four-step process for decision-making which begins with Jesus, something he explores in “Sacred Pace: Four Steps to Hearing God and Aligning with His Will.”
“The concepts behind this sacred pace are grounded in biblical principles, proven spiritual-formation methods, and practical skills that anyone can learn,” Looper writes in the introduction. “In three decades of using this approach in everything from the boardroom to intense negotiations to my closest relationships, I have never been disappointed by the outcome. Not once.”
Co-authored with Kris Bearss and published by Yates & Yates, “Sacred Pace” is the story of how Looper got to this place, which wasn’t a pain-free process by any stretch of the imagination.
Looper describes his rise through the corporate world after graduating from college, moving from a role in sales with Monsanto to a startup. The role involved grueling hours and travel — something Looper admits he didn’t mind, even though he rarely saw his children and it was putting his marriage in jeopardy.
“My addiction to success and my lust for money couldn’t have been a better match for this startup world. I did deals all day long,” Looper writes. “When one was done, I was already anticipating the next three or four, absolutely absorbed with the prospects and possibilities of more. Like twenty-four-hour talk radio, my mind never turned off.”
His daughter knew he was unlikely to make her gymnastics meets. He even told his wife, as she was about to undergo major surgery, “I’ll come with you to the hospital, but I will have to leave later and let your mom take care of you. There’s a cocktail party scheduled, and lots of industry people will be there.”
Looper admits he was hiding from the pain of a dysfunctional childhood and trying to bury it under the idol of material success, but the pain he was inflicting on his family was mirrored by the pain he was inflicting upon himself. While nominally Christian, his actions certainly didn’t evince that — and on the day he was to be ordained as an elder in his church 35 years ago, he was struck by a spiritual and physical breakdown.
“I suddenly could not get out of bed. It felt like the oxygen had been turned off in my brain, making it impossible for me to even lift my head from the pillow,” he writes. “This was more than just a physical sensation. It was emotional, spiritual, and mental. A shutdown on every level. My predominant feeling was that my brain had quit — just like that — and I was having a nervous breakdown. My brain had stopped so abruptly, it was as if someone had thrown a rock into my gears.”
And thus, he fell to his knees in prayer. “Lord, I can’t go on like this. I’ve done a miserable job of trying to run my life by myself,” Looper said. “You need to take control, because I’ve screwed everything up.”
Slowly, He did.
Looper talks about letting off the gas pedal and going through intense therapy with “a man of strong faith and an expert at ushering people through their deepest insecurities.”
As his addiction to the idols of work and money receded, his love of Scripture deepened. His relationship with his family began to heal.
After leaving his role in the corporate world, Looper waited on the wisdom of Jesus, finding inspiration in Proverbs 3:5-6: fear: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
“It was right there in black and white! If I submitted myself to the Lord’s wisdom, He would simultaneously direct my steps and ensure that my heart’s desires echoed my heavenly Father’s desires for me,” Looper writes.
It was around this time that he learned to shift “into neutral,” as he puts it — letting God take control and not trying to shift into a higher or lower gear.
“For the first time ever, I quit insisting on having things my way and moving ahead with my plans,” he writes. “Rather, I became ambitious for God’s will, and His alone, whatever that might mean for my future. I now wanted God’s will over my preferences and was ready to do whatever He decided.”
His will involved starting Texon, an energy commodities company, where he put his ideas into practice.
• • •
By accident and not by intention, Looper managed to develop a four-step process to reach a sacred pace that he’s used in every area of his life:
• Consult your friend Jesus.
• Gather the facts.
• Watch for circumstances.
• Get neutral.
Aside from getting neutral — a concept previously explained — these are all relatively simple steps. However, Looper describes the unusual places they lead and notes that “simple doesn’t always mean easy.”
For instance, when he was selling Texon’s butane-blending business, Looper describes how the first buyer fell through. The second-highest bidder, however, wasn’t amenable to the new buyer.
“As I got neutral in light of this new information (Step 4), I grew prepared to heed God’s will, whatever it might be,” he writes. “In the end, His solution to this unplanned turn of events wasn’t practical by worldly standards, but it turned out to be a wonderful solution: we honored our customer and split the business, keeping our customer’s portion and selling the rest.”
The book is peppered with stories like this — how Looper made God’s “spiritual pace” the core aspect of Texon’s business and how it led to its success. Given the nature of startups, this may seem paradoxical, but Looper makes it clear that it’s anything but; take away the spiritual keystone of Texon and it would collapse.
The implications of the idea of the sacred pace extend beyond the business world to every aspect of our lives. Looper describes how his method allowed him to repair his relationships with his wife and his children and make important decisions about the ministry and giving and even about vacation time and the kind of media he consumed. It’s a holistic process designed to breathe balance into your life through the guidance of Jesus.
The turnaround process wasn’t easy for Looper — and he admits it still remains difficult. Even as he gives away 50 percent of his income, he talks about the temptation to keep it:
“I was still practicing my daily spiritual disciplines, I’d been slowing down and waiting on God for more than twenty years, and the Lord had brought me to a place of no personal or corporate asset debt — yet I quit trusting Him. I wanted to keep more for myself. Rely on myself.”
Looper makes it clear that our human instincts are going to lead us to places of danger. Instead, by “slowing to a sacred pace,” we can listen to His voice and not the world’s.
• • •
From a dramatic breakdown 35 years ago, Looper makes it clear that he has more than climbed back. In terms of business, he has succeeded beyond anything he did before, all while maintaining a Godly balance. He’s a devout Christian, devoted parent and spiritual mentor.
“Sacred Pace” is the story of a man whose burnout was a painful gift from God. Even those who aren’t on the path to that kind of profound divine exhaustion probably aren’t listening to God as closely as they could. Learning to consult with Jesus, gathering the facts, watching for extenuating circumstances and getting neutral could be the steps you need to take.
“If you’re skeptical about this process but still curious enough to explore its possibilities, then do what I did: test it and see,” Looper writes. “Learn the steps, take in the stories from those of us who are regularly trying to practice a different pace, heed our mistakes, and then slow down and apply what you’ve learned in one situation of your own, regarding one decision. If you’re a Christian — someone who has accepted Christ as your Savior — you have His Holy Spirit within you to help you and the Word of God to further guide you.”
You can get over 50 percent off Terry Looper’s life-changing book — “Sacred Pace” — by visiting Patriot Depot today.
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