Family Men Are More Productive
Entrepreneurship is the engine, faith is the compass, and family is the legacy. For this episode, C.R. Wiley, author of The Household and the War of the Cosmos and host of The Theology Pugcast, explores the intersection of business acumen, Christian principles, family men, and the profound impact of intergenerational households. He shares how entrepreneurship can be a path to not just personal success but also a legacy that spans generations. C.R. discusses the unique productivity of married men with children and the biblical and theological foundations of intergenerational households. He also touches on the concept of waging peace and its significance in a world driven by prosperity gospel and individualism. Through C.R.’s stories and insights, he emphasizes that it's possible to embrace the opportunities of the present while honoring the wisdom of the past. Prepare to be inspired, challenged, and motivated as you listen to this enlightening discussion that blurs the lines between business, spirituality, and family values. Tune in now!
I have my guest, C.R. Wiley, who is a pastor in Tacoma Washington. Is that correct?
Actually, Battleground. That was about an hour and a half North.
It’s close but no cigar on that way.
I have friends there.
You're an author and one of the reasons why I reached out to you and put you on a show. I read your book about a year ago and started engaging with the household and the war of the cosmos. It was a book that I immediately had to re-read because it upset the apple cart a little bit for me. A lot of our audience are businessmen and entrepreneurs. A good portion of it is in the real estate industry and space. A lot of guys flip houses and things like that and it messed with me in good, fun ways. If you were to give us a CliffNote version of the book of what that looks like or to tease people on why an entrepreneur or a Christian man should read the book, hit us with it.
I'm glad to know that you got some guys out there that are into real estate. I've been involved in commercial real estate since 1994 and have done a lot of renovating and owned a number of properties over the years and still do. In terms of when you think about yourself as a man and you are bound to a wife and have children, there's a whole new reality that you have to look at yourself through. It's not just about you anymore.
One of the things that is an underappreciated fact is that married men with kids are far more productive economically than even single guys at the same age. It makes total sense that a guy that's got a wife and kids say, “If it was only me, I sit around eating Fritos and watching football.” You can still do that. I'm not against that. A lot of guys are content to get by, live simply, and enjoy the weekend or whatever but when you get people that you're responsible for, you are not only thinking about their immediate welfare. You're thinking about long-term things. You're thinking about legacy, inheritance, grandchildren, and all these different things. You want to be a blessing to all of your dependents.
It forces you to think entrepreneurially or at least responsibly, but hopefully, entrepreneurially. The way you hold wealth over generations is through intergenerational households. Now there are ways that can go wrong. We all know that sometimes the shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. It’s the old schtick but it doesn't mean that it's not a good thing to leave something to your kids or you shouldn't be thinking those terms.
In fact, theologically and biblically, that's the de facto setting or the factory setting and any deviation from that is the exception. We've gotten into a situation in Western society where we've reversed it. We think that the factory setting is individualistic. It's all about me and my happiness and if our family were to make me happy, I'd include that in my lifestyle choices. The cosmos is intended to situate your household in a larger universe or cosmos of meaning. That is the case. When you think about it, the cosmos says the macrocosm. Mac and then the cosmos is the largest order of them all.
By the way, cosmos means order in Greek. The microcosm is the smaller order that reflects the larger order. Your household is designed to reflect the larger order and that larger order, if you're thinking about it, is the eschatological term Christ in the church. The eschatological household or the happily ever after story that the Bible leads us to in the book Revelation is Christ in the church living happily ever after. You're supposed to live a preview of coming attractions in this life with your wife.
You said something in the midst of that where things fell into place when I was reading this book about home, especially when you dug into the word cosmos. You talked about it in terms of the gentleman who had the video series in the ‘70s and how everybody is like, “The cosmos is such a big and wonderous thing.” It is and then you have these two words, the household and the cosmos together. They don't seem to go together and then you open the book and you understand this is how it goes together. As entrepreneurs and as businessmen, sometimes we get together. We talk about the future. We talk about, “Here are the plans that we have to build.” It’s our little empires that we build.
We don't think about the cosmos of the household as part of that and it got me thinking, “Why is that not integrated into it?” I have four children. I have a son and he works with me. It was a natural thing for me but I felt natural to have him come into the business and learn instead of going to college. I didn't push him in that direction. I put people in place. I curated a lot of his education but let him choose if that makes sense. I put him around other entrepreneurs and people and he's in the business with me but then, as I read your book, I felt like there are a lot more layers to this that I need to be thinking through. It wrecked me in such a good way.
That's why I recommend the book highly to those, especially if you already have that entrepreneurial bet to build things and businesses or buy real estate, fix and flip it, to think not just this deal but teaching it to your kids and giving them that part of the wealth. It's great when you're able to give your kids an inheritance, the money, or whatever is left over, but this book has me thinking about wealth in a different way altogether and thinking of 2 or 3 generations in front of me. I can tell you, your book led to other things to rethink some might eschatology and some of these things. I love doing that.
I don't know if you're like this, but I don't know what I don't know. I love to learn stuff and have to rethink things that I thought were true. I believe a lot of the ideas from our Western culture about wealth and kids going to college are things for the longest time. I thank you for helping me on that path. Part of the book you talk about in part two is waging peace. I loved how you put that. Paul talks about this in Ephesians. Again, as you exegeted a text in Ephesians about putting on the whole armor of God, that was like, “I've never thought about it that way and that makes total sense.” Could you talk through part two of the book, Waging Peace, and how that fits in?
I'm happy to. That's a fun part of the book to reflect on. One of the things that I am doing with the book is helping contemporary people understand the 1st Century and the world that the apostles were ministering in. They were obviously in the Roman Empire. One of the things about the Empire is that it has its own mythological origin story and that origin story is the story of Aeneas and is told in the Aeneid. This was a very common understanding of the origins of the Roman people. They believed that they were descendants of the Trojans.
I don't know if most folks realize that but in terms of the Romans, they thought about that. In fact, when they'd conquered Greece, you could say it was payback. They did think of themselves that way but Aeneas is a survivor of the sack of Troy. He escapes with his family and he's given a charge by his own father, Anchises. This is, by the way, in the Aeneid by Virgil, which is the national epic poem of the Roman people. It was commissioned by Caesar Augustus. In Elysium, he hears his father give him the mission statement of the Roman people and the mission statement of the Roman people was to rule.
Basically, the mission statement said, “Let the Greeks have the art. Let the Phoenicians do their trading. Everybody has their place. Our place is to rule and to wage the Pax Romana or the Peace of Rome, or to bring the Peace of Rome.” They saw themselves as the only people who had the wherewithal to punish wickedness and establish peace. That's how they saw themselves. They didn't see themselves as in it for themselves, although, obviously, there was a lot of that.
To contrast that, America would be, “Freedom would be ours.” Theirs would be like, “That's your culture. Our culture is to rule.” When Caesar says, “We're going to back this up,” that means all the people need to know it, or the culture needs to buy in and they're bought into that story or that part and parcel of who they were.
They were the best organized. No one can match them on the field of battle. The Pax Romana or the Peace of Rome is a term that even to this day when you say it, people get it. Pacification, like we pacify the enemy, what does that mean? We brought peace. In other words, we disarmed the enemy. Anyway, that's the understanding. In the same way, the church understood itself as bringing peace or waging the Peace. The Peace of Christ was a warfare that was waged against those principalities and powers, which did not acknowledge the rule of Christ. It was a spiritual warfare. The spiritual armor that Paul describes in Ephesians, in a remarkable way, is a reflection of the armor that Aeneas is given by Vulcan, of all people, in the Aeneid.
There are some remarkable things going on in Ephesians. Paul was Jewish but he was also a Roman citizen. He's a Pharisee. He's a very sophisticated cosmopolitan and elect intellectual. He knew Roman culture and he's addressing some Romans in the pretty elite city of Ephesus. He's speaking to them in ways that they would intuitively get. There's a marvelous episode in Acts right at the turning point after Paul's conversion in chapter 9. In chapter 10, we go back to Peter, and Peter heals a guy named Aeneas. That would have been, to anybody in the 1st Century, an eyebrow-raiser. It would be like me saying, “The Apostle Paul came across a guy named George Washington.”
You'd say, “What?” Your eyebrows are raised to say, “What's going on with this?” In a real way, there's a real guy named Aeneas. I believe that's the case and he heals him but at another level, you could say that this is a statement that the gospel is going to heal the Romans or the Empire. From that point on, the very next scene you get is Peter in the house of Cornelius, the Centurion, who is from the Italian regiment. This is like a Roman of Romans. He's a God-fearer. He is praying and gives alms to the poor. He's respected by the Jews that are nearby. By the way, one of the things that's fascinating is in the New Testament, there's not a single bad Centurion. We think they're about seven of them and every single one of them is an upright guy.
I did not ever put those dots together. I would think that there would be at least one guy who had a big ego because he was in charge of all those people. They’ll do Greek some havoc.
There's one Centurion that saves Paul twice. It saves his life.
I'm going to spitball here. Is that because of the amount of honor that they would have to have or the amount of chutzpa or however you want to put it? In order to get to be in a Centurion, your resume had to be tight.
We have a lot of documentation on what went into being a Centurion at what you had to do to achieve that level of honor or rank. They were both great warriors and men of honor. They were men who were respected because of their integrity so you had to be a solid guy through and through to be a Centurion. When it comes to waging the peace, we, as Christians, wage the peace and we do it through spiritual warfare.
That's how we move the ball down the field.
It’s very much the same thing that you see with the physical waging of the Roman peace to pacify the various people in that part of the world and make them a single people or at least bring them under a single rule and alleged tremendous prosperity. Relatively speaking, in the history of the world, before the Industrial Revolution, it was one of the high points when it came to material well-being.
One of the things about going into what the book made me do is try to reestablish whether the Industrial Revolution was a good thing and to think through those things and how our households are run. In the book, it talks about how houses are recreation areas. That's true. I have a pool in the backyard. I was playing football with my son. We don't make anything here.
I do work from the house and my son does work from the house, but we're not making soaps. We don't have any chickens that we're farming and stuff like that. I have these conversations with my wife, Deidra. We have 4 acres and I said, “I'd love to get it maybe 10 or 15 acres and think through this whole process of keeping my kids close to me or having that option for them.”
There are people that are my age now, I'm 49 this 2023, that are already empty nesters, and in cultures beforehand, it was frowned upon to have your nest empty. Now we elevate those folks that their kids are gone. They can live it up. My parents got divorced when I was eighteen but even as a little kid, I always wanted a family. I always wanted to have as many kids as possible. As I have a 21-year-old and a daughter, who is five hours away from going to school in Chattanooga, I don't like that at all. It's interesting to think about how they did things back then. Is it better, or how do you curate that?
With that being said, with the Western culture as it is, this book lays out how you can wage war on the cosmos in a good way, the peace. What's your advice for the people who run their businesses? How should they be thinking through the Western way and this way? How should they parse that out? If you have some examples of people that maybe you've either pastored or said, “This is what they've done. These are the steps that they take,” I'd love to hear some action steps based on some of these truths that we can glean out of the Bible.
I’m glad to reflect on those things with you. One thing I would say is that we live in a very prosperous time and there are many blessings that we enjoy because of the industrial revolutions. The questions I raise about it aren't intended to romanticize a pre-industrial world. I think that air conditioning is great. Antibiotics, I'm all for them. All that stuff that we couldn't have without it.
I do think though that we have lost some things but the challenge going forward is to try to recover the best of the past while retaining the best of the present. To me, that's the goal and the challenge. It's up to the creativity of entrepreneurs to help develop ways of thinking about these things that could be examples that other people can follow.
When it comes to this matter, I'm serving a church right now that, as a growing church, it's very dynamic. Lots of young people and babies. The median age of our church is fourteen. There are so many kids but we got a lot of older people. A lot of patriarchs and matriarchs. One of my elders has 13 kids, others have 12 and 9, so it's a place with a lot of kids and they're all very productive people.
One of my elders is the owner of one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in America according to Forbes. I've got another guy who is an elder. This is the one with twelve kids. Most of the kids are grown and married now but they are all living in the area. He is an executive with an electrical utility here in the Pacific Northwest. He was in charge of renewable energy. He also has an organic farm that he lives on with these kids and he's got 36 grandchildren already. It's crazy. He's my age.
What you see when you're able to figure out a way to take advantage of the modern productivity that we enjoy because of our economy and then retain the strong commitment to the household as a productive enterprise, marvelous things can happen. In my own case, I've got three grown children. They're all married. They all have kids. My boys both own their homes and I'm involved with business activities with all three of my kids. My oldest son lives in Nashville and we're probably interacting every day over different intellectual property things that we work on together.
My second son is a welder and works for a steel firm. He's a foreman. He's 26 years old this 2023 and he has 30 men that he oversees in the Hartford area, but he manages our real estate. I'm usually interacting with him every other day about something related to that. My daughter lives in our other house. We've got two homes. We've got one here that we own in Washington and another we own in Connecticut. She lives in that home and is helping to care for that house with her new husband and she's expecting. We're interacting. She's involved with my wife and her piano business. There are a number of different things that go on in our household.
These are great examples. Would it be fair to say that you're a bivocational pastor or a tri? You have multiple things going on.
I am involved in a lot of different things. In fact, I'm going to be speaking at a conference in Huntsville, Alabama, in October 2023 on that very subject. It's going to be primarily targeted pastors. I'm not the only one. I know some other guys who are doing it too. I'm of the opinion that conviction that the Apostle Paul, who was a bivocational guy, was a tentmaker, but he was also one of the greatest intellectuals in the history of the world and a pretty sharp dude. When you look at the Apostle Paul, not only was he in the elite in Jerusalem, but you could say he was a Supreme Court clerk. He studied under Gamaliel, which is like going to Harvard or Yale in the ancient world.
He's from Tarsus. He’s a Roman citizen and the Jews from Tarsus had the favor of the emperor. That's why they worship it. Romans says it's because they supported Julius Caesar during the Civil Wars. As a reward, he gave them all citizenship. Here's a guy who worked with sans too. He was bragging to the Corinthians, “When I was with you, you didn't give me a dime and I don't want any money from you.” He's made that point. It’s like, “Don't think I'm asking for something. Don't rob me. This freedom, I have to brag about this.”
He talks about boasting. He did that for particular reasons. He did that because, at that time in the Roman Empire, there were lots of Joel Osteens out there who were going from place to place trying to help people or tell people that they would help them be successful in life for a lot of money.
The prosperity gospel was rampant at that time too.
They didn't connect to Christ, but it was pretty big business.
You're talking Huntsville is going to be specifically geared to bivocational pastors and helping them. That's interesting because of my background. I grew up Roman Catholic and then I met my wife. I converted or was baptized in an Evangelical Christian church. All I've known is full-time pastors. That's all they did but I've been interacting with a lot of people that are bivocationals that have these driving businesses and they pastor a church. I'm thinking, “How does that even work?” They're like, “It just works.”
I've run into this in the last few years. At our church, we have a pastor, a youth pastor, and all these other folks. Now that I think about it, we had a youth pastor a couple of years ago. His name is Andrew and he had a thriving landscaping business. He did better on that as a young man. We always talk because he was very entrepreneurial but that's interesting that I'm running into that.
It gives you the ability to relate to people at a level that maybe guys who don't have a foot in the business world can't. There are many examples in history. I was up in Louisville, Kentucky, speaking at an event, and I learned about Elijah Craig. I didn't know about this guy, but he's the guy that is credited with inventing Bourbon and he was a Baptist preacher. He started in a town with 5 or 6 successful businesses. The last business was the distillery. Bourbon is his thing. I wondered why don't the Baptist brag about that more. I realized, “They're Baptist. That's why.”
Now I'm going to hear Paul Harvey at the end of that day. Chris, where can people engage with some of your work? I know you're on Canon Press. Some of your material is there, but what other books are out there on Amazon? How can we support you? For those folks that are tuning in, where are some of your books, and what does that look like for you?
You can follow me on my author website CRWiley.com. That makes it easy. I'm on a podcast that I'm a co-host on. It's called The Theology Pugcast. We used to meet in a pub in West Hartford, Connecticut. It was called The Corner Pug. That's why we called it the Pugcast. You can follow me on that. I write for different magazines. I editorialized for World Magazine sometimes. They're the different places.
I want to thank you for your time. I appreciate you taking the time to write that book. It's a great book. I have a list of boomerang books, and that's one of them that I go back to. I appreciate you taking the time to come on the show. Chris Wiley, thanks again for coming. Guys, thank you for tuning in.