A few have asked for a copy of the talk I shared at the 2011 Wichita Prayer Breakfast (Pre-Breakfast). This was shared on March 30, 2011 with supporters of the Prayer Breakfast.
[Scott Pitman Speaking]
I am grateful for the opportunity to share with you today.
I am here to visit with you about Cars, Haiti, pregnant teenagers and a few of my other favorite things.
I am not an expert in any particular field. As a matter of fact, many of you are far more qualified than me and far more educated than me to be speaking here today.
But the thing we do have in common is a love for Jesus Christ.
If you were to ask me, Scott what do you do for a living? I would say that
I am the Operating Partner and Chief Evangelist for Suzuki of Wichita. As defined by my work, I have spent the past 22 Years in the Car Business.
Ironic isn’t it, a Car Dealer speaking at a Pre-Prayer Breakfast Breakfast?
It seems like there should be something in the bylaws to prevent stuff like this from happening, am I right?
What I thought I would do with my time is quickly work through my personal testimony and then transition into how my faith has impacted our business and these other things that get me fired up and out of bed each morning.
I started in the car business March 13, 1989 at the age of 21. I was a miserable failure my first year in the industry. At the end of my first year, I was given a book called “How to Master the Art of Selling” by Tom Hopkins. This book immediately changed my career by worldly standards.
I became a student of Tom’s and studied everything he published. Practicing these strategies allowed me to advance in my career; gaining more responsibility and income. In reality, all I really cared about was MORE INCOME.
One of basic principles taught by Mr. Hopkins was the importance of “living your life in balance.” In balance Financially, Emotionally, Physically and Spiritually.
As I analyzed my life I thought I was doing fine financially. Emotionally, I was happy with myself. Physically, check. But, Spiritually? I don’t want to talk about that! And this is exactly how I spent the next 6 years of my life. I was very SELF FOCUSED and VERY SELFISH.
As I look back at this time period I can definitely remember the Lord continually calling me to a relationship with him and I can definitely remember me continually ignoring his invitation.
Thankfully the Lord continued to knock…
I distinctly remember the day that I woke up to the fact that “There was something missing in my life.” I didn’t know what it is, but was determined to go and find it.
Today, I understand what Paschal meant when he said that “Each of us has a God shaped vacuum in our heart.”
As the Lord would have it, one day during my search, I was at the Hallmark store looking at cards when I turned around and saw a face that I had not seen in many years. My first reaction was to duck and run so that she didn’t throw something at me.
Standing in front of me was the mother of my child. Both of who I had abandoned nearly 9 years previously. I was standing face to face with my selfishness and a flood of personal failures. But instead of receiving what should have been understandable hatred and distain, what I received instead was a kindness, forgiveness and a love that I had never experienced before (what I have since found to be her Love of Christ).
Well, that was nearly 15 years ago since the Lord brought my wife Michelle and I back together [introduce Michelle]. We just celebrated our 14th year of marriage. And my daughter, Kelsey who was 9 years old the first time we got to know each other is celebrating her 24th birthday today!
I love this. It is just like God to continue to show me his grace and mercy by letting me share this story on Kelsey’s birthday.
With Michelle by my side, I accepted the free gift of salvation in February of 1989 at a Tom Hopkins seminar in Las Vegas. We were married the following month. [3:40]
While this part of my story was eternally life altering, it left me with 2 brand new challenges:
First: I had to come to the realization in business that “WOW – I didn’t do all of this by myself” and Secondly: Lord what do you want me do now? How can I be a Christian AND be a car dealer (a questions that sometimes still bothers me and I am sure makes some of you scratch you head as well).
After I met the Lord, my focus became changing the car business and using the workplace as a platform to share my excitement about my new faith. I was so excited that I hit everyone over the head with it. Unfortunately at the time, I did not own my own business and come to find out this sort of thing was frowned upon. After having my hand slapped for this on multiple occasions I was really confused about why the Lord choose me for workplace ministry but then put me in a workplace that didn’t allow me to minister.
So I did what I believe lots of people do. I went to work, I went home, we raised kids, I went to bible study, I occasionally got involved with the youth group and I faithfully attended church ALMOST every Sunday where we sat in the exact same pew. Then every Monday I did it all over again; for the next 7 years.
Then one day something happened that took our family off of cruise control.
God used a little boy with no red shirt to alter our lives forever.
It was the very beginning of the kindergarten year for my youngest daughter Kayley (who is now 11). Michelle walked into the classroom to find a little boy sobbing. So, naturally Michelle went up to him and asked “Honey why are you crying?” After several requests and several answers that she couldn’t understand under his tears, she finally made out the response: “My shirt.” Oh, honey your shirt looks fine was her natural response until she realized that he meant his Hyde Shirt; the shirt worn on spirit day by all the children to earn classroom points and rewards. He didn’t have a Hyde shirt! So Michelle did what Michelle does and marched right into the office and bought a Hyde Beagle Spirit shirt. He was the happiest kid in the world.
Little did we know it, but this was the start of our involvement in urban ministry.
By the way, this is still one of the best $10 investments we have ever made. This little boy ended up living with our family for a period of time due to some challenging situations he faced at home. We still have a great relationship today and we are always the first call he makes whenever he is faced with any crisis situation.
I had always had a personal goal of owning my own car dealership by my 40th birthday.
It was through many encounters like this one that the Lord moved me from wanting to own my own business for reasons of ego to reasons that were Kingdom focused. I began to pray much differently about this goal. I began to imagine what I could do with the freedom that this would provide…
4 Years Ago, on May 14, 2007; I accomplished my goal and we started work at Suzuki of Wichita. I believed that God had prepared me for this and that he would use me mightily in our industry.
Little did I know the adventure that the next 4 years would take us on!
I do want to thank many people in this room who prayed for our business and my leadership. We needed it. I needed it. God listened and He has blessed our business from the very beginning.
We purchased the most struggling brand in auto industry; a Suzuki Automotive franchise (yes, Suzuki. And yes, we sell cars, not motorcycles).
We started our business in a temporary building; A triple wide mobile home with 14 people. Lenders questioned and challenged our financial performa’s. I was turned away for financing multiple times. I spend my first year and a half in business defending myself in a lawsuit with my former employer; and little did I know it but we were headed into the toughest years the car business had seen in the previous 25. But, aside from all the stuff, FROM DAY ONE the dealership was and still is a special place that God has blessed greatly.
Just to show you the amazing things that God has done in our business:
We were the #1 selling Suzuki automotive retailer in the USA in 2009, 2010 and we are #1 year to date for 2011. Virtually everything that Suzuki tracks, from customers satisfaction to President’s Club; Suzuki of Wichita is ranked in the top 5 dealerships in the United States out of over 300 dealers.
But what else should we expect?
I believe that a Christian should own the #1 Suzuki dealership in the United States.
I think ALL Christians need to excel in their respective fields. We should take the talents that God has given us and sow them as seeds in the fertile soil of obedience to Him. What God has given us to do, we must do and do as well as we can as unto the Lord.
I like what Romans 12:1 from The Message says:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.
Suzuki of Wichita’s insane, unheard of level of achievement begs the question from car people all over the country:
Scott, how did a start up dealership in Wichita, KS become #1 for the brand?
The answer starts with the same five words: The Lord has blessed us
1 Timothy 6:18 from The Message says, “Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.”
The success of the dealership over the past couple of years has allowed Michelle and I to get deeply involved in the one thing that we are most passionate about. Meeting the spiritual, physical, economic and social needs of the helpless, needy and poor.
First, we love the people of Balan, Haiti, a village in Haiti near the Dominican border. Ironically, the work Balan means Balance in Haitian Creole. On my first trip to Haiti, which was weeks before the earthquake, we meet with the head of the Salvation Army in Haiti. He told us that “of the 60+ locations the Salvation Army serves in Haiti, Balan is the poorest and driest of them all.”
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In the village of Balan, there is no electricity and no fresh water. The walk to get to fresh water takes 1 hour and 15 minutes each way. Unemployment in Haiti is over 80% with an average wage of less than $2 US per day. Balan is worse.
With the help and support of many we have started to create some areas of hope in Balan with bigger plans in the future.
Through a school sponsorship program, which pays for tuition, books, uniform and 5 meals per week, enrollment has been raised from 104 students to over 250 this school year. This program has created raises for all of the teachers, hired 4 cooks and hired a ground keeper. Previous to this sponsorship program, children had not been feed in this school in the past 7 years.
The biggest need in Balan, besides the Gospel, is fresh clean water. This was our goal from day one, but after attempting contact with over 20 drilling companies in Haiti, and having everyone tell us we “were wasting our time” we had hit roadblock after roadblock. We were encouraged with roadblocks, however! Faithfully, we asked our supporters and friends to continue praying. Like many things we get involved with, we felt like if it were easy to do it would be harder for people to see God in the success of the plans.
Go figure, we found a pastor who funds ministry with his drilling company. He was both willing to drill and to pray! As we speak we are drilling 2 wells in the village of Balan. Please pray for clean fresh water. We believe that if God can get water from a rock and a coins from the mouth of a fish that he can easily provide the people of Balan with clean fresh water.
Our plans for the future of Balan include an orphanage and anything else that God has in mind.
Next time you pray the Lord’s prayer, please remember Haiti when you get to Matthew 6:11; “Give us this day our daily bread.” Most of us pray that prayer with a full plate of food in front of us; in Haiti, many of our friends pray that prayer as they start each day looking for food and hoping to find it.”
When I ask my good friend in Haiti (Jupille Jean Baptiste) how they don’t starve to death, he always responds the same. “When we are hungry, God is good. He fills our bellies” (As he points to the King).
“We are seed planters.” I recently heard my wife Michelle use this term to describe the parenting teen ministry that she pours her heart into.
Several years ago now, we were invited to East High School to a “town hall meeting” to tour and pray for the school. After a great time of prayer and walking through the halls, we came across a nursery. My immediately thought was: A nursery? A nursery for babies? In a high school? Then my next thought was: Michelle.
Since that time Michelle and her team have built an amazing group of mentors, child care workers and prayer warriors to serve parenting and pregnant teenagers at several high schools in our community. They have served over 150 teens and their babies through YoungLives, a part of the YoungLife ministry.
One of the things that we were not prepared for was the number of parenting teens that we met that are homeless or one-step away from homelessness. Many of our girls live with a family member or friend out of necessity, but these living arrangements can change rapidly with one minor conflict. The main thing that most of the girls we serve lack, homeless or not, is a strong support system.
You guessed it. The Lord called Michelle to open a home for teen moms. Her dreams included a resident program that was a comprehensive discipleship program for young women that want to grow in their relationship with the Lord but lack the support system to do so and a non-resident program that was for girls who had a safe place to sleep but desired the education, discipleship and fellowship of believers and other teens in their same situation.
Out of these dreams and obedience to the Lord, The Lady Bugg House was founded this past June and our home was purchased in August.
We purchased a 5000 square foot, 1920’s Plantation home that has an extra 2500 square foot “multi-purpose room” attached to it. The first time we drove by the house, we didn’t even stop because it needed SO MUCH WORK. Once again, the harder the project, the easier it is to see God’s handiwork!
Someone recently called the Lady Bugg House QUOTE: “A great opportunity for the pro-lifers to do something after life is chosen.”
The community has been so supportive. We have seen churches of various denominations and people of all race and age come alongside this project and embrace it.
I will close with this. Micah 6:8 from The Message: But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously; take God seriously.