Mark Funderburk is president and CEO of UMC Health System in Lubbock. He has been in healthcare 29 years and is a member of First Baptist Church in Lubbock. From deep in the heart of one Texan, he shares his background and thoughts on being a Christian in healthcare. To suggest a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated leader to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.
What other businesses have you been in, and what were your positions there?
Prior to healthcare, I was in insurance and real estate for just a few years post college.
Where did you grow up?
How did you come to faith in Christ?
When I was 9, I talked with my parents after Sunday school. They took me to our pastor, who was also a close family friend, Rev. Harold Hughens. He confirmed my desire, we prayed together, and I was baptized.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
• Baylor University, Bachelor of Business Administration
• University of Texas Medical Branch, Bachelor of Science
• Texas Tech University, Master of Business Administration
Life in the marketplace
Why do you feel called into the marketplace?
To make a difference. That can sound trite, I realize. I want to facilitate and achieve results to the benefit of my organization and the people we serve.
I have learned over the years through a career in the marketplace that leading individuals can bring about something often elusive—meaningful work, which is absolutely one of the best blessings we can endeavor to create. Meaningful work is a blessing. Being a conduit of it is all about making a difference. The Lord has blessed that effort for me.
How does being a Christian influence your decisions in the marketplace?
I pray for wisdom. I don’t always exercise it, but I pray for it. And I increasingly am dependent on God’s guiding hand. I also am learning to practice gratitude. It brings perspective and clarity about goals, worry, uncertainty and the role of faith in my life.
What is your favorite aspect of the marketplace? Why?
Accomplishing good things through people. In other words, seeing the power of service, quantified financially.
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What one aspect of the marketplace gives you the greatest joy?
Employees and team members who experience meaningful work and knowing I had a part in that.
Meaningful work is more than labor. It’s seeing the connection between the work of your hands to the purpose of your organization. To sow meaningful work, do three things:
• Acknowledge the worker.—Do you know me?
• Make it relevant.—Does my job matter?
• Make it impactful.—How is my success measured?
Clearly, God is the Creator and Sustainer. He graciously has allowed me the privilege to be a conduit.
What one aspect of the marketplace would you like to change?
To bring about and to encourage a greater sense of personal accountability to the Lord. Once God is seen as sovereign, a God-centered view is much easier to have. As a consequence, priorities and anxieties are in better perspective, and life is seen more through a lens of faith.
How has your place in the market or your perspective on the marketplace changed?
I am far more dependent on the Lord because I must be. I’m not the smartest guy in the room. I pray for wisdom because I need it and because he is faithful to give it.
How do you expect the marketplace to change in the next 10 to 20 years?
It likely will be innovative and even exciting, but honestly, I see it growing darker. The enemy is not just attacking homes. The enemy is alive and well against organizations that are working to show care and compassion.
No matter the organization, the light of Christ faces growing competition, to use a market term. So, by darker I mean it increasingly will be challenging to capture hearts and minds, not just toward the mission of your organization, but also the spiritual mission to which we are called.
Name the three most significant challenges and/or influences facing your place in the market.
Steady, reliable funding streams, especially within a market of unlimited demand—as Baby Boomers age—and limited supply.
Retention of an engaged workforce, capturing the hearts and minds of employees to see a vision with purpose and thus to secure that singular commodity often bereft in organizations—meaningful work.
Demand that will outstrip resources, which requires innovation. Brace yourself to compete with the likes of Amazon in previously untapped markets like healthcare.
What do you wish more people knew about the marketplace?
I wish individuals who venture into their own business or practice knew the competitive forces at play and, to put in bluntly, how to make a dollar, how to compete, how to develop trust.
Why are you Baptist?
I was raised Baptist and, to be honest, the main reason I am Baptist at age 59 is because of the structure, influence and absolute support system of the Baptist Sunday school class that has been a mainstay and stalwart resource for decades.
I have seen such tremendous turmoil and grief in people’s lives as I have taught for over 20 years. Yet right alongside, I’ve witnessed the wonderful, life-sustaining work of the body of Christ through my Sunday school class.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
First, my parents, Max and Pat Funderburk, and my grandparents.
Later in life—I’m still being mentored, by the way—my bride of 37 years, Cynthia Noble Funderburk, my son Adam and some exceptionally good friends.
One of the great benefits of being mentored is the attention given to a much-needed balance in life. Mentors offer counsel when my focus or temperament go off the rails. Towards that end, I have benefited greatly through the influence of God–provided mentors.
Other than the Bible, name some of your favorite books or authors, and explain why.
Good to Great by Jim Collins. It captured my attention almost 20 years ago, and it provided inspiration to transform the workplace. It essentially was my first true grasp of the power of vision in the workplace.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. This book provided a template, a formula toward employee engagement and a practical guide to being inspirational. It has worked.
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. A captivating picture of our greatest president, it is chock-full of useable strategies for leadership success.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
Hebrews 4:16. “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence to find help in our time of need.”
Why? One, because God tells me to be confident in my approach, which helps to still the anxieties of life. Two, he offers help whenever needed. Essentially, Hebrews 4:16 is a lifeline with a strong invitation to use it.
Who is your favorite Bible character, other than Jesus? Why?
Joseph. In the cistern, in Potiphar’s house and in the prison, he lived out Hebrews 4:16. I see him as confident in God’s provision when he had every reason not to be.