The weekly TGCvocations column asks practitioners about their jobs and how they integrate their faith and work. Interviews are condensed.
Bob Pritchett is president/CEO and co-founder of Faithlife Corporation (maker of Logos Bible Software). Bob regularly speaks at industry conferences and to academic groups on entrepreneurship, electronic publishing, and digital libraries. He is a 2005 winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, one of Glassdoor’s Highest-Rated CEOs of 2015, and was included in Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. His new book, Start Next Now: How to Get the Life You’ve Always Wanted, was released in October. Bob lives with his wife, Audra, in Bellingham, Washington. They have two children in college.
How would you describe your work?
At Logos Bible Software, we serve pastors with tools to help them study the Bible. By God’s grace, the company has grown significantly; we currently employ more than 400 people. My job is to help make things happen. When I started it, I wrote the program and took out the trash. Today my role has changed to helping other people do those jobs. This led me to write Start Next Now. I wanted to help others develop their careers. I’ve found that the biggest obstacle is how to get started: often we’re just stuck not knowing what the next step is. So I took what I do every day in helping others make the next step, and I wrote it down.
As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work?
As an entrepreneur, I’m drawn to the creative aspect of God’s character. I used to think that was mainly about making things to serve people. As time has gone on, however, and as I’ve aged in leadership, the aspects of teaching and mentoring have grown. Ultimately, entrepreneurship is about helping others thrive and succeed. I didn’t realize this at the beginning, but I’ve come to see this job not so much about the products or things I’m making or building but about the customers and employees we’re serving.
How does your work give you a unique vantage point into the brokenness of the world?
Brokenness comes at some level from people; we have fallen short and are in need of God’s grace (Rom. 3:23). As an employer, I get more perspective into other people’s lives than I may want. I see behind the façades we tend to carry around and into the struggles of marriages and finances. At first, I didn’t like that responsibility; I wanted to focus on the product we were creating. Now, though, I see that in order for people to grow, they must be embraced where they are.
Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” How does your work function as an opportunity to love and serve others?
I was blessed with parents who gave me permission to pursue ideas and business ventures, so I’m trying to give this permission to other people—not from a physical place of authority, but from a mental place. You want to start a business? Let’s talk about how to do it. You don’t have to have an MBA? Let’s walk through the steps. The way I get to serve is to unlock things for people.