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Published: Saturday, 1/19/2013

Local author aims to help those who seek peace; Lange says Jesus can help eliminate worry

BY TK BARGER
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Author Jim Lange. Author Jim Lange.
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Jim Lange looks at the world from a different perspective than many. You might get that impression when he says he's “5 feet 20,” describing his height of 6 feet, 8 inches.

But stature isn't his world view. Jim Lange is a man of peace; his peace comes from his Christian religion, and his religion is at the center of his life and his work.

Mr. Lange has written two books oriented toward Christian readers; he publishes the eight-page 5feet20 magazine monthly, which is found in Christian doctors’ offices and other waiting rooms, “to encourage and minister to their patients, employees, clients, and that sort of thing,” he said. He is the chapter president for the Toledo area of Truth@Work, a small-group ministry organization for Christian businessmen.

Mr. Lange’s second book, Calming the Storm Within: How to Find Peace in This Chaotic World, was recently published and is available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle editions. He is working on getting it into bookstores soon.

“Calming the Storm Within was really birthed out of my struggles to find peace in my life,” Mr. Lange said. “I grew up as a person who worried about everything. My mom used to tell me all the time, ‘It’s a “not to worry.” ’ That became her mantra to me all the time, and she would even shorten it — ‘It’s an “NTW.” ’ I grew up with constant stress in my life, and that’s what ultimately led me to Christ. I tried all sorts of different things, I researched different methods of relaxation and all of that, and nothing really brought what I was looking for.”

Jesus, for Mr. Lange, reduced his worry.

“In writing this book,” Mr. Lange said, “some things were revealed to me in some pretty amazing ways, some truths that Jesus spoke about about finding peace. There are several things like that that I discovered that I think can be of great help to everybody, and the bottom line in this is that I’ve discovered peace is available for all of us. God wants us to have peace — matter of fact, God is referred to as the God of peace more than any other adjective in the Bible. That’s kind of the primary message of the book, and it walks through how we can truly come to this place of finding peace in our lives regardless of the storms around us.”

Mr. Lange’s new book “is a separate project from Truth@Work,” he said, “but it ties into Truth@Work from the perspective that I am around business and ministry leaders all the time, and the one thing that’s common is stress abounds. Most leaders are facing tremendous challenges, tremendous stress, tremendous pressures, and peace is not in abundance.”

Mr. Lange knows what business is like from his own corporate experience. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo, where he played basketball.

“My degree was in computer systems,” he said, “so I was a computer programmer right out of school for a few years, and then I got into sales.” His first book, Bleedership: Biblical First-Aid for Leaders, “was birthed out of a huge struggle that I had, probably the biggest struggle of my professional career,” he said.

“I was working for a family-owned business in Toledo as a sales rep.” The company was sold. He became a vice president for the company, in charge of the salesmen.

“It was the most awful work experience I've ever had in my life.” But it led to Bleedership: “I took my boss’ [poor] leadership style and contrasted it with the great leaders of the Bible and ended up getting it published. That changed the whole trajectory of my career, so this awful thing that happened ended up being the greatest thing that could have happened to me.”

Much of what is great for Mr. Lange now comes through his position as chapter president of Truth@Work. He leads monthly business roundtables for five groups of about 12 to 15 Christian executives, “solo-preneurs,” and ministry leaders.

The roundtable members “really work as a board of advisers to one another,” Mr. Lange said, “to help each other to grow the organization in a God-honoring way while at the same time helping each other to grow personally and spiritually. So [there is a ] heavy dose of accountability, encouragement, a lot of, you know, go to Scripture to come up with solutions and guidance.”

Truth@Work meetings are confidential. Members pledge not to share what goes on.

Visitors, such as a prospective member or a reporter, can sit in by invitation after signing a confidentiality agreement. Those who join Truth@Work pay a membership fee, which varies according to a person’s or company’s assets but can be more than $5,000 a year.

One Truth@Work member, local business owner Lynn Fruth, said it’s worth the fee.

“My initial motivation for joining,” he said, “was how can I be a more grounded spiritual leader in the office and share my faith that way and be more effective? It’s been all of that in helping me learn to do those things, but I think I underestimated the effect on my personal life, which has been really profound. I built a great trusting relationship with a dozen or so people in my group. And you walk away [from a meeting] with great wisdom and things you can apply immediately in your own family life.”

In a four-hour monthly meeting, group members will have prayer, perhaps watch an instructive video, and share their issues — whether spiritual, professional, or personal —at the table, in the depth that is needed.

“Sometimes some pretty sensitive stuff gets talked about,” Mr. Lange said, “like ‘I’m about to have an affair, you guys need to stop me’ type stuff. Conversations can happen” about people’s needs, “which is really cool.”

“The common thing that they all face,” Mr. Lange said, “is that being a leader is a pretty lonely place, but being a Christian leader is even a lonelier place. You can go anywhere and get an opinion, but where do you go to get a trusted opinion, to seek wise counsel?

“This provides that forum. It’s really a place where people ‘get’ the pressures that you’re under and feeling and going through. It is just incredible. I am the most blessed person on the planet that I get to do what I do, I kid you not. It is just awesome.”

And it gives him peace.

Contact TK Barger at: tkbarger@theblade.com or 419-724-6278.



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