I was extremely fortunate in business, but something was missing.
by Marc Stein | May 28 2021
I grew up in Los Angeles in a culturally Jewish home. I practiced my Jewish faith, went to Temple at Beth Hillel on a regular basis, attended Sunday school, and had a Bar Mitzvah. All in all, I was a very typical Jewish kid in LA.
A couple of years after my Bar Mitzvah, aged about fifteen, I was going through the confirmation process at my synagogue. The associate Rabbi asked me if I would prepare a lesson and teach a class to the kids on a comparison between Judaism and Christianity. It was the first time I had heard a Rabbi ask for that, and I knew nothing about Christianity—I only had about three friends who weren’t Jewish!
After flipping through the pages of our Encyclopedia Britannica at home, I went to my local library and I read the gospels in the New Testament for the first time. I was dumbfounded to see so much familiarity in it and just how Jewish it was. So, I went back to my senior Rabbi to seek clarification. I genuinely and curiously asked him why we didn’t believe in Jesus. He looked at me over his glasses and pointed me out of the office.
That was the end of that. I had nowhere to go with this experience. I didn’t know anyone that was a Jewish follower of Jesus.
My attention subsequently shifted to two topics: Girls and making money. I still loved God, but from a distance.
Later on, I had a falling out with the Temple, and I left really disillusioned. I decided my life goal was to become “the rich uncle.” I was highly interested in business and I really prospered. My dedication and ambitions were focused on myself and making money. I owned many businesses and was doing well by all standards. I was a classic entrepreneur—identifying an unmet need in the marketplace and figuring out how to fill the void. I was extremely fortunate in business, but something was missing, and I knew it.
This worked well for the first half of my working life until I reached the age of 40. However, I suddenly had a couple of reversals—one business failure and one personal failure. I found myself to be divorced, a single father, and in a totally desperate place.
My life was full of stuff but empty on the inside. I would ask my friends and associates, “Where do you find your peace?” I would get all kinds of answers: Gardening, hiking, yoga, meditation, running. I was running a lot at that time but probably more from my life than towards anything else.
Just as my life felt like it was crumbling, I had another encounter with Jesus. A courageous friend showed me Isaiah 53 and my memory of reading about Jesus as a young boy in the library came back to me. In a moment, my world changed, and my priorities shifted. I really wanted my people to know their Messiah. It took me a long time to figure out Yeshua’s message of grace—I was accustomed to the “I love you if, I love you when” model. Learning that Jesus didn’t love me intermittently or conditionally kept me going.
Upon telling my Jewish mother about my belief in Jesus, she lamented, “why can’t you have a normal midlife crisis?” That was the beginning of a very strained decade with my family—I was no longer the respected “rich uncle” I once was. Over the next few years, I redirected my professional attention toward causes that were near to my heart.
For over a decade, I have served in executive positions in three different ministries, bringing slightly different perspectives and expectations than they had been accustomed to previously. However, not a day goes by when I am not using my MBA, leadership training, and entrepreneurial skills and resources that God has gifted me with to serve Him. God continues to work in my heart and life, and it’s been amazing to see Him work in and through me when I have committed to living for Him.
Marc and his wife, Sylvia reside in a little coastal community in Southern California, and have five children and eight grandchildren living across the country.