Wayne Carr, a member of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas, has been in the power engineering field since 1971. He founded Milsoft Utility Solutions in 1989 and is now the CEO and chairman of the board. From deep in the heart of one Texan, Edmiston shares his background and thoughts on being a follower of Christ in the marketplace. To suggest a Texas Baptist leader in the marketplace to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.
In responding to what life in the marketplace has been like for him, Carr provided a rich response, which is highlighted before the rest of his interview.
About being a Christian in the marketplace
Growing up on a family-sized dairy farm—less than 100 cows—I learned, or just assumed, hard work was a necessary part of life. The dairy farm was a very inspiring experience for me; it inspired me to get a degree and do anything but farming.
This getting acquainted at an early age with hard work translated into working hard at whatever I was doing.
I chose engineering as a career because I preferred math and science to English and people skills. I didn’t understand success was very dependent on good English and people skills.
It has always amazed me God could and did direct my steps even when I was not actively aware I was allowing him to do so.
My life in the marketplace began as a desire to make a living for myself and family, which I thought was up to me to work hard to accomplish. Over time, God taught me my hard work would only be satisfying and productive when I trusted him for success and satisfaction. That is a story of traveling a long path with God guiding even when I was not aware of the guidance.
At first, the marketplace for me was all about the work of engineering and then about writing software.
Then, as God blessed me with more responsibility as an employee and then as the owner of a company, I began to see God loves people more than their work, and he wants to teach us to use our work in a way that allows us to help him love and care for the people he puts around us.
Over time, God taught me he would bless the work and pay the bills when I was willing to take care of the employees and our customers.
As for employees, God gives us “diamonds” and “projects.” The employee diamonds allow us to produce great products and wonderful service for our customers. The employee projects were sometimes wounded folks and sometimes misunderstood folks who in some cases God wanted us to rescue and turn into diamonds. In some cases, God just wanted us to love and take care of them for a season.
As for customers, we consider our customers as gifts from God, and we accept the responsibility to provide them with the best possible products and services.
Early in founding the business, I realized I was much better at engineering and writing software than I was at running and managing a business.
As I prayed in a panic, God gave me Matthew 6:33—“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”—which translated to me as, “Do things his way as best I could, focus on using the abilities and talents he has given me, and trust him to fill in the missing pieces.”
This resulted in God leading us to maximize our obsession with providing the best possible products and services to our customers and to our treating employees as gifts from him rather than as resources. This then led to success within our small marketplace of potential customers.
Perhaps the most important business principle or value God gave me was never to let profit become a priority. Of course, any business that survives, much less is successful, must pay the bills and, to pay the bills, must make a profit. However, as I observed God leading our company, he taught me profit was one of those “two masters” things, and profit would not share priority with anything else. God wanted our first priority to be him, which leads to taking care of employees and providing the best possible products and services to our customers.
In what business are you currently?
Since 1971, I have been an electrical engineer and software developer. I have been in the electrical distribution power business since 1971. My first job was as a power engineer with Houston Power and Light. I then moved to Stephenville to work for Erath County Electric Cooperative as a staff engineer, then to Abilene where I worked as a consulting engineer for Milford Engineering, which led to the founding of the software company Milsoft Utility Solutions in 1989.
Milsoft provides software to electrical distribution utilities, mostly here in United States, with a few international utility customers. Our software helps utility staff with engineering, outage management and mapping. We have recently purchased a software company that provides billing and accounting software to utilities.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in 1948 on a cotton farm in Erath County, Texas. Dad and mom decided in the mid-1950s to go into the dairy business, which became my inspiration for getting an engineering degree.
So, I grew up on a dairy farm about two miles south of Alexander, a wide spot on Highway 6 in Erath County. The closest city of size is Stephenville. I attended school at Dublin.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
I was blessed with dedicated Christian parents and publicly accepted Christ at the age of 8. At the church we attended—Alexander Baptist—8 was the age considered appropriate.
I don’t remember ever not knowing and loving Christ; however, it was at the age of 18 that I read a book by Billy Graham and for the first time truly understood the significance of why I needed Christ as my Savior. I have been continuing to learn the significance of this ever since.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
I received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas in Austin in 1970.
Life in the marketplace
Why do you feel called into the marketplace?
Initially, I was called into the marketplace by my desire to make a living somewhere other than the farm. Somewhere along the path of learning to love and trust God, I realized I was where God wanted me to be and where he prepared and gifted me to be.
How does being a Christian influence your decisions in the marketplace?
Please understand that, for me, trusting God and doing things his way was the most difficult of all decisions, and it was and still is a constant battle between my flesh and his Spirit to seek first his kingdom and righteousness instead of my desires and passions.
Early in my career, I realized the uncertainty of most decisions. Some decisions are easy and fall naturally from the gifts and talents God has given us. But then there are all the rest that fall outside of what we can know and inside of the uncertainties of life.
God gave me a verse early in my career, James 1:5, which says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God.”
In some ways, the decisions we aren’t comfortable with and are willing to go to him in trust are less dangerous than the ones we make blindly without asking for his wisdom.
What is your favorite aspect of the marketplace? Why?
I love to write, design and fix software. Must be that dairy farm upraising that instilled in me the Type A drive to be productive.
What one aspect of the marketplace gives you the greatest joy?
It is a great joy to see our company be a blessing to our employees and to see its products and services be a blessing to our customers when it makes their work lives better and more productive. This is countered by the pain of witnessing us fail at either, which we do. Sometimes because we just don’t do the right thing, and sometimes just because things don’t always work out. During these times, God has given me Romans 8:28.
What one aspect of the marketplace would you like to change?
I would like to see changed the “good for business” practice of treating employees and customers as resources to be taken advantage of in the quest for greater profit and/or power. I know that is a mighty big change to expect and that it will not happen until Jesus returns.
How has your place in the market or your perspective on the marketplace changed?
It has been a long and exciting path of the growing realization of God’s place, power and love in all that I do and accomplish. This marketplace is just the sandbox he has placed me until he returns or I go to him.
How do you expect the marketplace to change in the next 10 to 20 years?
I expect the marketplace will get much more difficult and much less God-oriented, if that is possible. I expect this will offer a wonderful opportunity for those Christians who wish to trust God and live and work in his presence. An opportunity, because his power and wisdom will become more necessary for and more evident to those who are called according to his purpose.
What do you wish more people knew about the marketplace?
All that we do, including the marketplace, is all about God and trusting him.
Why are you Baptist?
I agree with Baptist doctrine, but mostly because that is where God put me. I also love Baptist traditional music. I know contemporary music is the future, but I am certain traditional music worship will outlast me.
What are the key issues facing Baptists—denominationally and/or congregationally?
The cultural issues of our time will require much prayer and wisdom. How do those in leadership positions manage and deal with the tension between hating the sin and loving the sinner?
What is the impact of the marketplace on your family?
On the positive side, God has provided all the necessities of life to my family because of the marketplace that he placed me in. My son, son-in-law and nephew now manage the company, and if it is God’s will, they will continue to be blessed with prosperity and the joys of running a company.
On the negative side, my passion to work hard and do what it took to get things done took me away from family more than I am willing to confess.
Other than the Bible, name some of your favorite books or authors, and explain why.
I enjoy history and historical fiction. I am afraid I don’t pay much attention to the author.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
Matthew 6:33 and James 1:5. They were the foundation of faith this engineer needed to build a life on.
Who is your favorite Bible character, other than Jesus? Why?
Paul, because his books of the Bible are teaching me to live in total dependence on my Savior and to walk in his presence by living in the Spirit instead of the flesh.
Name something about you that would surprise people who know you.
I spend too much time playing war strategy games on the computer.
If you could get one “do over” in the marketplace, what would it be, and why?
I would realize and put into practice much sooner in my career that it is all about God.