Building a Foundation of Faith: Insights from Michael Todd

    I’m a devoted husband to Natalie Todd, my relationship goal, my baby mama, my boo, my good thang, the apple of my eye, the water to my thirst, the wife of my youth, the sweet to my sour that I need every hour… whew! (Sorry, y’all, I got a little lost thinking about how fine she is.) As a blessing of our love, we have four beautiful kids.

    I’m an active father; lead pastor of Transformation Church; a CEO; a music producer; a designer; and—I don’t know how this happened—a No.1 New York Times bestselling author. Wow. Writing all that feels crazy because at certain points in my life none of it seemed achievable. Let me explain.

    I grew up as one of five brothers in a strong faith-filled family. My parents are ministers who have always modeled a life of extreme faith for me. In moments when most parents would have said, “I’m sorry, we can’t afford that right now,” my mom told me to pray and believe God for what I wanted. She and my dad told me Bible stories of extraordinary faith all the time, and I would imagine myself as one of the characters. It built in me much more than a good imagination; it built a solid faith foundation.

    I’m fully aware that not all kids grow up like that, but the beautiful thing about faith is that it’s never too late to build it. Sure, the best time to start laying that foundation may have been 20 years ago, but the next-best time is right now. So I’m encouraging you now, at this moment, that now is not too late.

    As a matter of fact, now is the perfect time. Right where you are, you can begin tearing down the walls of doubt, pulling out the lies of pessimism and removing the framework of fear so that God can pour a new faith foundation deep within you.

    Strengthening your future
    We each have beliefs, standards, philosophies and habits, and these are all built on some sort of foundation, whether from family, friends, education, religion or culture—or a combination of all of the above. But before we start building anything, we need to establish some things on a ground level. Even the most glorious building can be reduced to a pile of rubble without a sure and solid foundation.

    A foundation is essential to hold a structure in place, but it does so much more than that. A well-built foundation keeps out moisture, insulates against the cold and resists shifting with the earth around it. It is strong, deep and dense enough to last the lifetime of the building sitting on top of it. In the words of This Old House general contractor Tom Silva, “Without a good one, you’re sunk.”

    Over the past year, my wife and I have embarked on the relationship-testing journey of building a house, and we’ve learned a whole lot about construction and a whole lot about each other. (Y’all keep us in your prayers.) One of the things that has surprised us is how much intentionality goes into the planning, preparation and configuration of the foundation: digging, measuring, steel reinforcing, cement mixing, leveling and more.

    When I asked the foundation contractor why it was taking so long (because, honestly, I was ready to see some progress above ground), he reiterated that the foundation is the most important phase of construction. They never rush this part of the process because, as he put it in a very matter-of-fact tone, “We can fix a wall and we can repair a window, but once this house is up, the foundation is set forever—that is, unless we tear it down or do major reconstruction.”

    I couldn’t help but wonder, What areas of my life have I built on a faulty foundation? Where do I need some major reconstruction?

    Have you heard of the Burj Khalifa? No, it’s not Wiz Khalifa’s cousin. It’s currently the world’s tallest free-standing structure, at a staggering height of more than 2,700 feet—that’s two-and-a-half times as tall as the Eiffel Tower and almost twice as tall as the Empire State Building!

    It cost an estimated $1.5 billion and took six years to build. More than 110,000 tons of concrete were used to construct the foundation, which is buried 164 feet below ground level. That’s 12 stories of building under the building, because it takes a very deep, very sturdy foundation to keep that 500,000-ton tower standing tall.
    Assessing your capacity

    A foundation may seem insignificant because it’s under the surface, but it makes possible the part that’s on display for everyone to see. Let’s take a moment to assess our foundations together.

    Now, I need you to be H.O.T. (humble, open and transparent). Which of the following best describes the kind of structure your current faith foundation can support?
    SKYSCRAPER: huge visions, giant goals and daring dreams; lifestyle of faith on public display that is focused on serving countless others
    MANSION: large, strong framework; intentionally designed to last a long time; aesthetically pleasing to attract others; set up to leave a legacy for future generations
    FIXER-UPPER: pretty solid belief structure but compromised integrity due to doubt, disappointment and damage over the years; needs work
    TRAILER HOME: not set in stone, easily moved, not anchored down; susceptible to damage from outside circumstances; doesn’t have much room for others
    PORTA-POTTY: used only as a last resort; usually full of crap; requires a lot of maintenance; has just enough room for one.
    VACANT LOT: no vision or direction; available; full of potential.

    But let’s take it a step further. Think about some specific areas of your life and then rate your faith foundation for each one. Your friendships, career goals, romantic relationship, health (mental, emotional, spiritual or physical), finances, children, business, personal development and any other hopes, dreams, or visions for your future—each and every one needs to be built on a deep, sturdy faith foundation. Be honest, though: What kind of foundation are they on right now?

    Whether your foundation is at vacant-lot status or has skyscraper capacity, your faith still has room to grow. We can all aspire to a deeper foundational level of faith.

    Growing your faith
    Today, people google everything and tend to believe only things they can prove without a doubt. This makes having faith a challenge, so actually witnessing people act on faith is increasingly rare.

    Too often, the facts that we see erode the faith that we need. I’m sure you’d agree that this world we live in is pretty out of whack, and for things to get right, we need miracles taking place far more often.

    If we really want crazy results, we’ve got to put in a crazy amount of faith—even if it’s hard. So, I’ve got one question for you: How badly do you want it? Merriam-Webster defines crazy as “not mentally sound: marked by thought or action that lacks reason.”

    I define “crazy faith” as “having thoughts and actions that lack reason but trusting fully in what you cannot explicitly prove.”

    It reminds me of this old song that was made popular in 2006 by Gnarls Barkley—singer CeeLo Green and his producer, Danger Mouse—called “Crazy.” The part that caught my attention at first was the chorus, but when I looked up the lyrics, something about the last verse stuck with me. It says, “My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on the limb, and all I remember is thinkin’ I wanna be like them.”

    I can’t help but think about my own life as a believer and wonder if people will remember me as a guy who was crazy enough to live his life in faith out on the limb. Will your coworkers be able to say, “My friend was truly a person of faith”?

    Excerpted from CRAZY FAITH: It’s Only Crazy Until It Happens by Michael Todd. Copyright © 2021 by Michael Todd. Published by Waterbrook, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

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