• Mary Grothe

Obedience will open more doors than experience ever will.

I’ve got a love-hate relationship with obedience. But maybe not what you think. I’ve been a rule follower my entire life. In fact, my team laughs at me when we are in the office because I follow all the one-way arrows on the floor. Until just a few years ago, I never crossed the street unless the walk signal was showing.

Being a rule follower, to me, was a way of survival growing up. I seemed to be in less trouble, overall if I followed the “rules” of the “game” in my house… but as you’ve heard me say the rules changed almost daily.

Being a child of an alcoholic parent meant needing to choose the path of least resistance to avoid being screamed at and punished. So by nature, I became a rule follower and did my best to stay out of the way.

When I became a Christian at age 29, I started learning about obedience to God and living as a Christian, but my “rule-following” nature wasn’t enough…

I had 29 very sinful years of life and saying no to my old ways to welcome my new life wasn’t always easy. Temptation lives in my flesh, even today, and sometimes it can get the best of me.

God is not looking for us to be perfect, He is looking for us to say yes to Him… but it’s not a one time yes… it’s an all-the-time yes.

Mix that with my professional track record of achievement, and my brain gets all confused on how to abide. I built an incredible, successful life by the time I was 29, but I was so empty and distraught.

Obedience will open more doors than experience ever will - I have to remember this as a CEO, as I continue to build my company, that I cannot rely on my experience to be successful moving forward, I have to rely on Him.

So, how do I incorporate my faith into leadership and be obedient to our amazing, loving God?

  1. Constant communication with Him.

  2. Ability to surrender to Him when it’s going great and when it’s rough.

  3. Continuous thanksgiving to Him for all He has provided.

  4. Loving my team members and clients.

  5. Acknowledging that God, (or an act of God as we have recently seen), could take this away from me at any time.

  6. Correcting my course when I become prideful or too comfortable.

  7. Understanding this is not my company, this is His company and I am a steward of it.

  8. Fearing God and knowing his power, and abiding in Him.

I learned a few years back that praying to God a few times a week wasn’t the way to build a relationship with Him. He craves constant conversation. I learned this through my friend, Ana, who talked about God and Jesus as if they were sitting right next to her and having coffee with us. When I first heard her talking about them, they started to come to life for me. I was a year or so into my journey as a Christian and my learnings had been very “text-book” until then. Ana changed everything for me. She helped me understand what having a relationship with Him actually meant.

I started shifting my prayer time to just straight conversations. I began to actually hear Him, audibly, and also through feeling. God has so much to tell us if we will just ask and listen.

When it comes to running my business, I had some very stressful moments in our first 2 years of operating. We were in high-growth mode and I was living with some of the results of a few mediocre decisions I had made, typically because I was always so rushed to make fast decisions, and He had to help me work through them.

I quickly identified my weak areas with managing employees and difficult clients. I knew my breaking points and where I needed help.

I got a big head a few times during those two years. I had a lot of pride in the success that we had. But it wasn’t me. It was Him. And He reminded me of that when I became too prideful. He is an amazing God and a loving father and he is NOT going to hold back from teaching His children. I am so thankful for all the lessons that He has given me and for those yet to come.

Surrendering to Him, as I have done multiple times on my CEO journey, allows me to finally take rest in Him and take a deep breath. When I realize I don’t have to know everything and fight every battle and make every decision… it’s a sigh of relief that allows nights of deep sleep and complete peace in my heart. It also gives me space to take a step back in awe of what He has built for me and what He is allowing me to do for a living.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to run a company… not just any company, but the company that my team has worked so hard to build. They’re tremendously talented and gifted. God placed each one of them with us and each is flourishing in their role. We’ve also become more disciplined on who we take on as clients and ensure we bring on “good business”. Great clients and great employees make for great outcomes and everyone wins.

I used to be someone who had an answer for everything. Until maybe this past year, I avoided asking questions in most management conversations and just jumped to solving problems for my team members. Thankfully, I learned that’s not the best way to run a business and it’s tiring. I learned to ask questions and help my team troubleshoot their own challenges and navigate the situations they’d typically ask me for help with. Empowering my team to resolve any challenge has helped our business grow. It’s not all on me. They’re so talented and capable. A little empowerment goes a long way.

As for our clients, I have grown a new appreciation for them. We lost several clients when the pandemic shut down occurred, but the ones who remained and the new ones we have gained have been a pure blessing to work with. My love and appreciation for them, as well as our dedication to their success, is creating life-long relationships that I cherish. I view my clients differently than before. I realize how important it is to value and appreciate them for every penny they spend with us because they trust us and they are committed to us. I don’t take that lightly, as I have recently witnessed how an Act of God, or God himself, can take this all away in an instant.

A few months ago, I acknowledged that my pride can get out of control. For my entire childhood, I never felt good enough. That damage lasted for years and sometimes it still plagues me. I know much of my success early in my career was because of my relentless pursuit to win and prove to everyone around me that I was worth something. When I started to win, I wanted everyone to know. My pride was overwhelming. And that’s not a good thing.

I made a commitment to God that I would not do one more podcast interview or speaking engagement without acknowledging what He has done for me and that this success is because of Him, not me. That shift has felt so good. Honoring God, publicly, is scary. I have to pray and ask for strength the moment before I open my mouth because I am fearful of what people will think of me or how their opinion will change. I am 3 months into publicly praising Him and it feels amazing, but it is still nervewracking before each time I mention that I love Jesus.

God has done a tremendous job keeping me on track and avoiding becoming too prideful or comfortable. I love how He keeps me moving on a path forward, focused on Him, and allowing His light to shine through me to others. This is not my company, it is His. This is His gift to me. He is allowing me to do the best job I have ever had and to live a dream life! He has blessed all of us with incredible provision and careers that we love.

Obedience opens more doors than experience ever will. Abiding in God means choosing Him and Christian life daily! It’s not a pick-and-choose based on the circumstance or how I am feeling. It’s denying all the temptations of the flesh and living in the spirit. It’s committing to honoring Him in all things. My biggest awareness list? It’s below. Being cognizant of easily-triggered temptations and sinful behavior helps me be on the lookout and to catch them before they happen. What’s your list of triggers? How do you manage your temptations and avoid sinful behavior?

I watch out for:

  1. Anger

  2. Envy

  3. Idolatry

  4. Gossip

  5. Pride

  6. Gluttony

  7. Greed

  8. Entitlement

My favorite scripture that guides me through this is Galatians 5:1-26. It’s so clearly written and easy to understand how we are meant to live! And what we are to avoid. I am so thankful for the Bible and the written word of God. What a gift to all of us who seek Him and want to live in Christ.

CEO of Sales BQ®


Twitter @MaryLGrothe

Instagram @MaryGrothe

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