Interview With Christian Business Professionals #2 Pastor Pete Westera

Peter WesteraWhat is your business, first of all? What do you do, and what is it like being a pastor and businessman at the same time?

I own a small construction company. We have found a little bit of a niche in the market of construction; that has to do with basements. We do basement waterproofing, but we also do basement mold remediation, basement air management—there’s a lot of bad air in basements—and basement finishing. We do structural repair: cracks and settling foundations, bowing walls and etc. We also do crawl spaces. Basically anything to do with basements. We’re about to get into radon also. Radon is an odorless gas that comes into homes from the soil, and you can get cancer from it. You can mitigate radon with fan systems to minimize high risk. So, we’re not quite there yet, but we keep adding to our basement services offered. Our advertising campaign is [directed] toward people who have basements and want to use them.

How did you come up with this?

When I was 17, I worked for somebody in the church that had a waterproofing business—a basement waterproofing business. Steve Taylor, BWN. I actually worked for his branch and another branch in Pennsylvania. From there, I worked at a bank for about a year; I went to work for another waterproofing company after that—basically helped him grow. I worked there for about seven years and ended up running his office and running his sales team. We grew from just the two of us to 20 employees, and I was in charge of marketing, in charge of sales and in charge of the office.

Did you find it difficult being a Christian businessman?

At first, yes, it was hard, but now it’s part of my culture; it’s the way we operate. I’ve hired people that think the same as I do, mostly from the church. It hasn’t always been perfect. We’ve blown it, and we’ve made mistakes; however, overall, we’ve developed a company that has an incredible reputation, maybe one of the best in the state for construction. We’ve never had any complaints filed against us nor have we had any serious issues with customers. We take care of our customers like good people. As far as the big picture, the thing about those who are self employed is that their world revolves around them totally. People who are employed have to submit themselves to a boss, and there has to be some element of humility, some element of not doing what you want to do but doing what the boss wants to do. The biggest thing that I’ve started to realize, the biggest flaw in my life, was that my life was all about me. Even in my marriage to a certain extent. Did I not really understand how Jesus is humble and lays down his life? When you are self-employed, no one ever tells you what to do. If you’re making even a little bit of money, that becomes another world that you control. The biggest change came there, because even working in the church was hard. There were bosses over me, and considering it was a church, they are very careful with everything. They have to control you, and I struggled with that a little. I never had someone telling me what to do, how to write an email, what not to do here and what to do there, and the policies drove me nuts. Looking at the big picture, that was the biggest thing: my flesh. God was breaking me, breaking me to crucify myself. The message of the cross has always been one that was the hardest for me, but also the one that I needed most. That’s the one Pastor Schaller preached that I loved.

There are ways you can treat employees. I try to do it to the best of my ability. I do have employees that are not Christian. Everyone knows I’m a Christian, practically speaking. I witness to them, and I share my beliefs with them. They know it; I make it very well known. They also know by my actions. We have Christmas parties, but there is no alcohol—which is incredibly rare—people know what we’re about.  Also, they know that I’m not interested in collecting money when things aren’t done. Little by little, they know we have integrity. The more that we fall in love with Christ, the more we learn of Him, the more we make our lives about Him and the more we are reflecting Christ. If you ask me how I am reflecting Christ—I don’t know, and I can’t really tell you. Mostly I am surprised by the fact that I am, but I do know that He has that influence on us. He feels us, and I’m changing in an amazing way. God has made me a more spiritual being. That’s always been a little bit of a mystery, but I recognize it. What am I doing today that is reflecting Him? Practicality is difficult in one sense, and I don’t know if we’re done there. There is no difference between spiritual and secular—there is no separation. I read a book by Reverend Lawrence, and in his book he talks about whether he is washing dishes or worshipping in the sanctuary. There’s no difference to him. Pastor Schaller talked about that in one of the classes, so I went and purchased the book and read it. It was convicting, and I knew then that I’m in two different worlds. I’m working hard and I’m honoring God; however, they were two separate worlds, and I don’t think that that’s possible. So, the two are the same, though I obviously do two very different things when I work at my business compared to when I’m sitting here at the church. But more and more, I try to find God at work, to find fellowship there and to feel as though there is no difference. I can tell you that I’ve struggled with that some days, but overall, I want my life to be about God.

What would you say to those who are trying to reconcile the two?

For me, there were not any steps, other than that I’ve spent lots of time studying other denominations and other religions. What has changed me was my study of Jesus. I can’t get enough of that. I can never ignore His words. The more and more I learn Him, the closer I feel to Him. The more He has become real in my life, the more He has changed me. So, if you’re asking me how He changes a business guy, hold onto Jesus and make Him a huge part of your life. Make Him the most important part of your life, and the rest will fall into place. I know that’s kind of general. I know business people want 10 steps on what to do. But I have found that though I can fix many things in my business or in my life with steps, money and hard work, none of that works in my heart. You can’t change your heart; only Christ can change your heart. Even in the ministry and in our prayer life, I know that my prayer life will not grow by my works but rather by Christ, little by little. I’m just praying and hoping, and trying in a sense, for that kind of prayer life. I think I’ve spent 35 years of my life trying to be a Christian, and it didn’t work. I am so turned off by any attempts of me trying to be anything. I’m not against any type of discipline; I can talk about discipline, but my heart is where we start. Many of the changes in my life have come that way, through my heart.  I would be interested in reading about other Christian businessmen and the Christian business prospective. As far as marketing is concerned, I’m trying to understand what you mean by faith in marketing. There is a market out there. I use worldly tactics all the time to find my customers, some Christians. I read worldly books—I read self-help books to help my business. I’m not above learning from people in the world. You can do it with integrity.

Thank you. It was a great time with you today.

The interview was much longer. You can dowload it here ==> P Pete Full Interview



About Zsolt Bicskey

There is Jesus, my wife, my kids and the rest of the world. I love business and marketing and I've been doing it for almost a decade...