For more than thirty years, Dr. Bruce L. Hartman earned a living in the corporate world, climbing the ladder from entry level accountant to the highest ranks as a CFO in Fortune 500 companies like Footlocker and Yankee Candle. In 2010, he left business to serve others
Graduating with a Master of Divinity from Drew University Theological School in 2013, he earned the Daniel P. Kidder Award for excellence in Pastoral Care. He received his Doctorate degree, also from Drew, in 2018.
Today, Dr. Hartman is an author and speaker, a trained theologian, and an expert in business. His first book, Jesus & Co., received the 2018 Readers’ Choice Award. His new book, Your Faith Has Made You Well: A Radical New Way to Create Peace and Hope, released in late 2019.
Your midlife course change epitomizes the concept of Divine Detour. Please tell us briefly how it came about.
I was terribly conflicted in my life’s purpose. As it says in the Bible, you can only serve one master. I had two, business and God. I had to give one up. I could choose to continue to pursue my career or follow God’s direction for my life.
I had been a very successful business person and was well regarded in my profession. From meager beginnings I rose to the top levels of great companies like Footlocker and Yankee Candle. My life dreams as a child were achieved, but I wasn’t where God wanted me to be. And God kept knocking on my door.
I knew the answer was to pursue a life with God, but just saying and thinking that wasn’t enough. It was a very emotional period for me. The crisis hit fully in early May of 2009 at one a.m. in the morning. Under great duress and by a streetlight on a deserted street, I made the decision to give myself fully to God.
Under great duress and by a streetlight on a deserted street, I made the decision to give myself fully to God.
From there I entered Drew University’s theological school. For three years I pursued getting a master’s in divinity and graduated in 2013 with a 3.7 GPA and won the Daniel B Kidder award for Pastoral Theology. My professors and the dean encouraged me to continue and study for a Doctorate degree. For another four years I studied to obtain this degree and in May 2018 graduated with my Doctorate.
During my studies I was able to identify my calling. Not to go into traditional ministry, but to use social media to spread the message of the Good News about Jesus. In fact, my thesis was constructed on how to accomplish this direction.
You’re now the author of three books. What started you on your writing journey?
It first started during my Doctoral studies. I noticed a huge gap in the understandings of my professors as it related to the business world. And as well, with my business friends. My professors believed that business was sinful, and my business friends thought the academic world was out of touch. This prompted me to write Jesus & Co. My goal in the book was to show the commonality between being a successful business person and Jesus’ values. While many may think they are incompatible, I disagree and believe that it is far easier to be successful in business if you are following the lessons of Christ.
My writings are designed to take what I know and experienced to “inform and inspire.” I believe there is much that is unknown and needs to be explored. As such, in my writings, I try to go deeper and create an environment where people can think more critically about their faith lives.
Let’s talk about your new book, Your Faith Has Made You Well (Post Hill Press, September 2019). What led you to write about this particular topic?
During my Doctoral studies, I noticed the phrase said by Jesus, “Your Faith Has Made You Well,” appears eight times in the four Gospels. This is a large amount of repetition for just one thought. So, I knew it was important and at the same time discovered there wasn’t much writing about why Jesus said this statement.
This led me to investigate and interview people of great faith to see how they used faith in their lives. What I discovered in these people is that their faith was the rock of their lives. Whenever tragedy or setbacks arose, instead of going into despair or rejecting God, they turned to their faith to pass through these difficult moments.
I also discovered that crisis is a natural part of life. Every person will deal with a crisis, and if not, they are overdue!
I try to go deeper and create an environment where people can think more critically about their faith lives.
I then put together my research and organized the book by life events and used my interviews and the Bible to show solutions to these inevitable points of life. It was an interesting project, in which I discovered the compelling force of God exists in all people, and God wants to be near and help. In the people I interviewed, I saw this in them, the joy of knowing God worked in their lives. Their emotion was so strong, most broke out in tears as they told their life stories during the interviews. After the interviews I was compelled to reveal what they said and how normal people can be hero’s for God.
Please tell us about your weekly devotionals.
I actually started writing them when I was doing my Doctoral thesis. At first, I didn’t publish them, they were more for my own discovery of God. Then as part of my Thesis, I began posting them on my website. My goal was to document the receptivity of these thoughts and show that social media was a viable tool for delivering the message of Jesus.
In a matter of three months, my followers grew from zero to over ten thousand. Proving that ministry can be viable on social media.
After I graduated, I felt a deep responsibility to continue to “inform and inspire.” The work in researching these devotionals is rewarding and inspiring. And it has in turn become my ministry. In 2020, through my website over four million messages will be read and followers will grow to 85 thousand.
This year the ministry will turn to doing podcasts and videos. As this will allow us to reach many more people through more avenues, such as Itunes, YouTube and Buzzsprout. Our focus in 2020, is to create a devotional about every book in the Bible, inform people about great Christians of the past, and continue inspirational stories from the 21st century. We will also be starting an online church in late spring 2020.
The work allows me to explore many different facets of our faith. I learn new things every day. In turn I share what I discover. I am deeply humbled by the work God has done in me and with my life. Every day, I love waking up and starting a new day. These devotionals have become my passion.
What Bible passage or story best describes your personal journey of faith?
Without any doubt it is Luke 2:10. “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.’”
The emphasis for me is both in the Good News of Jesus and that it is “for all people.” Every person I meet and every person I hear about has had the opportunity to receive the Good News. No matter where they are in life. No matter if they are poor or rich, male or female, or criminal or saint. We all can have the Good News.
Spreading the Good News is what God has asked me to do.
Thank you, Dr. Hartman. It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.
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