The Art of Integration
By Kelsey McFaul
CFP Doug Twohill interweaves stewardship of family, finances, and faith
When one of Doug Twohill’s daughters was in elementary school, her class participated in beginning-of-the-year fitness testing.
“They had to run a lap around the field in a certain amount of time. My daughter was first and she was watching all the other kids come in and she looked back and saw a boy struggling to get through the first quarter of a lap. He was new in the class, and he clearly had some socialization issues. He wasn’t talking to classmates, very shy, ate lunch by himself.
“With permission from the coach, she ran back and started running with him. Some of the other kids saw that and ran with her and him. Other kids formed a tunnel at the end and cheered when he finished, and he smiled.”
For Doug, a certified financial planner in Palm Beach, Florida, his daughter’s experience became a profound analogy for the way he defined success.
“By the nature of my upbringing, I was a very transaction-oriented person. I’ve become much more aware of being sensitive to other people and where they are in their journey. [Like my daughter’s classmate,] most people know when they’re struggling. What they need is someone to run alongside, not to tell them what to do, not to tell them what’s wrong. They just need someone to be there for them, and that’s a completely different idea than I had when I was younger.”
The analogy helped Doug begin to define success in terms of his relationships with other people, especially his family, rather than in terms of a transaction that considered people as a means to an end.
Now, Doug applies the insight that walking (or running) alongside people is a powerful expression of love and concern to his conversations about finances with wealthy Christians.
“Most of the time, the conversation wealthy Christians have about money is always attached to somebody asking them for theirs. That’s not educational, that’s transactional. And most wealthy Christians that I know who have a heart for generosity, they understand that God has given them the ability to give and they want to educated in all the aspects of how to do it.”
After identifying this need, Doug and his business partner Steve Scalici began to organize informal get-togethers to encourage and support wealthy believers.
“We’ve found that wealthy Christians get the best advice on what it means to be a wealthy Christian from peers. So we get a group of people together who we know are generous, they invite friends, and we just talk. Somebody will tell a story about something specific that they’re giving to or a project that’s important to them, something that’s going on in their family.
“The point of those gatherings is just to gather. There’s no ask. It’s a conversation that rarely happens and that a lot of wealthy Christians are really, really hungry for.”
Building relationships and walking alongside Christians who desire to steward their financial resources generously, Doug observes that those who are successful all have something in common. Their relationships with God, themselves, others, and creation are integrated. They have surrendered their finances to God’s ownership, rather than maintaining small fiefdoms of their own control.
“From God’s perspective, it’s all integrated. There’s no real difference between what it means to be obedient with finances and what it means to be obedient with relationships, prayer, or church attendance. When a person or family [has] aligned in their beliefs, their worldview, and their actions with what God made them to be, then it all clicks.”
This integration insight is proving true in Doug’s own life as well.
“Because I’m a financial guy, I think about it like we have our giving, family spending, taxes, savings. But then we actually cared for children overseas who we then adopted. From the accounting standpoint, was that still giving or now family expenses? Nothing changed. What changed was we integrated.
“I think that how we relate to God has the most impact on how we see ourselves, and then how we see ourselves is largely going to be reflected in how others see us. I think about others as family, because that’s the number one group of other people that I want to influence.”
While many people in his industry sustain strained relationships between their careers and families, Doug’s worked hard to integrate them and prioritize his family.
“I was very close with the pastor who led me to the Lord, and I asked him a lot of times for advice. He would always bring it back to, ‘What is God asking you to do?’ It was never what are the positives and negatives, or ask 30 friends. It was always, ‘What is God asking you to do?’ Whether it was about marriage or children or career or money, [that was] the natural lens to look through.”
Many people in the financial industry make decisions they think will integrate their work and family lives but that actually create pain and division.
“I believe that many men will make decisions about their career based on what’s going to be the best for their career and make the assumption that if it’s good for me and my career, it’s good for my family. I’m sacrificing things relationally for my wife and kids, but it’s for them. That’s a lie, or an excuse, or a misunderstanding.”
When he began his career, Doug was working six and a half days a week. Once he got married, he began to slowly surrender his ownership over the time he spent at work.
“When my son came along I reduced it to 45-50 hours a week. I wanted to honor the wife that God found for me by making her more important than my career. I wanted to honor the kids that God gave me by making them more important than my career.
“When he was less than a year old, I was asked to serve on the governing committee of my church. I hung up the phone and my wife had tears in her eyes. She said, ‘They can always find someone else to be on that board, but I can’t find someone else to raise our son at this point in his life.’ So I called back and said this wasn’t the right season in my life to do it.”
By surrendering his ownership over time and his identity, Doug experienced the fruitfulness, freedom, and joy of a steward.
“If you look at what it takes to be successful in my business and you look at the things I’ve done, it doesn’t add up. I have had career success beyond what I ever would have imagined.
“And my kids, when they heard other people say their father will be out of town for their birthday because his company sent him out of state, they didn’t even know that kind of thing happened in life. It was just not part of our family culture. And I honestly believe God heard my heart, that that’s what He was calling me to do, and because of that things turned out pretty good.”
He’s witnessed the same fruitfulness in the lives of the wealthy Christians he knows and counsels.
“I’ve met some very miserable wealthy people. I’ve never met an unhappy generous person. There’s nobody that I’ve ever known who has been successful in any area of their life, but been unsuccessful in their marriage and with their children, that considers themselves a success.”
Speaking of success, Doug’s emerging relational (rather than transactional) definition is now integrating with his work stewarding the finances of others, and his stewardship of himself.
“I was on a board and I didn’t have any success at all. After I left, one of my pastors said, ‘Doug, you’re a great ideas guy, but you’re not willing to invest in other people to get them to see your ideas the way you see them.’ I realized I was visionary and an introvert, but I am still transaction-oriented.”
Acknowledging and surrendering this part of his identity allowed other people to come alongside Doug. They encouraged, supported, and stewarded him, just as he was doing for others–and as his daughter had done many years ago.
“By the time I realized this is who I was and I was in a position to do anything about it, I was pretty far along in my life. I joke that I outsourced all my extrovert functions to Steve; he’s the influencer, collaborator, networker. It wasn’t like I had to go and rebuild myself. What I had to do was realize what my strengths and weaknesses were and then rely on others.”