The Accountant Learns to Number His Days: An Interview with Lance Wood
A Surprising Journey of Generosity and Joy
In 2002, Lance’s life was turned upside down when the accounting firm he worked for was involved in a devastating scandal. Lance explains, “I was a partner at Arthur Anderson, and my plan was to make a bunch of money and go into ministry when I turned 50. But then the Enron scandal happened and suddenly the firm was lost, I lost my capital account, and my plans unraveled.”
…the Enron scandal happened and suddenly the firm was lost, I lost my capital account, and my plans unraveled.
Lance took the upheaval as a sign that maybe it was time for ministry work. But he clearly heard an impression from the Lord, “I made you for business.” Overwhelmingly, he felt that God was urging him to start using his business mind to evaluate where he gave his money.
Up until that time, Lance and his wife, Jeanne, had been faithful givers but they had not been actively engaged in thinking strategically about their giving. Lance says, “We really had not thought about the best and highest use for God’s money, or even fully embraced the fact that all our money was God’s money.”
So they shifted their mindset and started evaluating charities, and thinking about how to make the most impact. As a savvy businessman and CPA, Lance was quickly drawn to the idea of microfinance – institutions designed to serve entrepreneurs in poverty by providing small loans that allow them to invest in their own businesses and provide for their families. While he loved the concept, he was disappointed that he could not find a microfinance enterprise that was Christ-centered.
In 2008, all this changed when he met a representative from HOPE International, a Christian organization that provides discipleship, training, a safe place to save, and loans for some of the world’s most underserved citizens. Lance says, “I felt that HOPE International was the best way to impact people for the least amount of money. Many of their clients are women, and I know when you change a woman, you change the whole family, and sometimes the whole village.”
Lance became more involved in HOPE and eventually joined the board of the ministry, while he continued his accounting career. But then in 2011, his new-found hope was shaken once again when his wife, Jeanne, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer after a routine screening. “It was quite a shock,” says Lance. “Jeanne is the healthiest person I know and we just couldn’t believe it.”
The timing could not have been worse as Lance and Jeanne had just adopted their second child from Ethiopia. With four other young children and nine months of harsh chemo, Lance recalls this season as one of the most challenging times of his life. “But we made it through by the grace of God,” says Lance. “And it taught me that our days are numbered. I came away from the experience knowing that I want to live fully in the present for God today.”
…it taught me that our days are numbered. I came away from the experience knowing that I want to live fully in the present for God today.
Since that time, Lance says that God has challenged him to move his heart forward to love in ways that he could have never imagined. He says, “God told me to love the clients of HOPE like He loves them. And at first, I just couldn’t go there. But I prayed that I would love these people like I love my own kids, and it has changed my heart.”
…I prayed that I would love these people like I love my own kids, and it has changed my heart.
Today, Lance encourages other professionals to live a life of courage and obedience as they seek greater purpose. “After all,” he says. “What do you have to lose? A life of giving is so much more fulfilling, and more fun than doing anything else. I wish that I had followed this advice a long time ago.”