A Pew Research study showed that 71 percent of adults believe it is essential for a man to be able to support a family financially in order to be a good husband. However, being “caring and compassionate” ranked as the top answer, with 86 percent of people saying this was the most important trait. In his new book, Become a Provider: Discover the Joy of Blessing and Protecting Others, author and entrepreneur Justin Thomas broadens the definition of providing for others. His book details the tragic circumstances that led to his journey of learning what it means to be a Biblical provider.
The following is a Q&A with Justin Thomas:
Q: What motivated you to write this book?
A: After losing my father, I went on a soul-searching journey to explore how to carry on his legacy. I assumed this would be just my own personal journey. However, along the way I was exposed to so many life-changing experiences and relationships that I became motivated to share the story with others. This book shares the gift that I was given— a new definition of what it means to become a provider.
Q: You dad’s death was sudden and unexpected. What would share with others who have faced similar losses on how to deal with the grief?
A: Unfortunately, a friend of mine texted me just last week asking this question. He told me, “I started reading your book and could not get past page three. I also received a call last night. Same exact thing happened to my dad. I am sitting at the airport trying to tell myself everything will be okay.” I thanked him for sharing this hard news with me. This is the first step in dealing with grief: sharing with others. I encouraged my friend to take a firm hold of his family and values during a time when the world beneath him is no longer on solid ground. Conversations and moments like this make me grateful for the experience I have had in order to try and provide for others going through a similar journey.
Q: How do you define a provider and how do you believe Scripture defines it?
A: A provider specifically provides blessings and offers protection to others. Here is my provider definition: Provider = Bless + Protect. This is the proven provider process. The exciting news is that anyone can develop the habits and skills to consistently bless and protect others. I share my personal journey with a biblical perspective of what it means to provide. Psalm 23 positioned Jesus as our model provider, one who blesses his sheep by selflessly giving of himself to earn the trust of his sheep. Jesus even called himself the “Good Shepherd” in John 10: “I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for the sheep.” Scripture ultimately defines a provider as one who is willing to sacrifice for others.
Q: You list “Santa” and “Soldier” on what you call the “Bless and Protect” matrix. Talk about that.
A: When creating the Bless and Protect 2×2 matrix I knew there would be people strong in one area but weak in the other. I evaluated my own life and explored when were times that I was high in Blessing and low in Protecting and vice versa to arrive with the Santa and Soldier quadrant. Santa represents someone who is generous and loving, but lacks the guiding hand of a protector. They default to solving problems and burdens through gifts, which certainly blesses others, but it does not fully satisfy the need. The Santa quadrant allows you to stay in the safe space of giving more and more and receiving praise for your apparent generosity. It’s a fun quadrant to be in, both for the giver and receiver, yet there is a deeper version of providing. The soldier is high on the protect trait, but low on the bless trait. He represents someone who is strong and reliable but lacks the softer, blessing characteristics. On the one hand, people may feel safe around “soldiers,” but hesitant to be vulnerable and open to such a harsh figure.
Q: Why do you feel teaching men to be providers is important?
A: After speaking with other men, the typical definition of being a provider was the 1950’s Dad figure bringing home a paycheck as the pinnacle of providing. I felt it was important to challenge this baseline definition to change from “bringing in the money” to “blessing and protecting.”
Q: Talk about the C.L. Thomas Fellowship, its vision, and the plans for expansion.
A: The CL Thomas Fellowship offers small groups and online resources to help others become providers. The fellowship was started in 2017 in honor of my father who passed away that same year. The first small group launched from my living room and now we have several groups in the Raleigh-Durham area and Dublin, Ireland as we continue to expand our reach and influence. Groups launched are led by a mentor or “provider coaches” who believe that each member can be a great provider. The mentor facilitates monthly meetings and models a provider lifestyle. In addition, the fellowship offers a growing library of recorded interviews from experts in different areas of the Provider Wheel. We are building a community of people from all walks of life who strive to help one another become better providers. One of the most exciting new additions is that my wife, Amy Thomas, is now leading a women’s C.L. Thomas Fellowship group. The women’s group takes the same Provider Wheel and calling to bless and protect others through the unique perspective and gifts that God has placed on their lives as women.
Q: What is the Provider Wheel?
A: The Provider Wheel is a visual I created to highlight the eight characteristic traits of a provider. We spend one month on each trait during the course of the C.L. Thomas Fellowship small groups. The Bless and Protect Matrix is another visual I use to show what happens when we do not bless and protect others, we fall from the “provider quadrant” and into other quadrants that limit our impact of effectively becoming a provider.
Q: What do you hope readers will gain from this book?
A: Here’s what I hope for this short book: that readers will commit to being a great provider based on the incredible, imperfect legacy of C.L. Thomas or “Pop,” as he was known to my family. And that readers will change their definition of “provider” in which they make a covenant to bless and protect anyone who needs their specific gifts. I want readers to remember that providing on earth is ultimately an imitation of Jesus and His life’s example.
Justin Thomas is the co-founder of the C.L. Thomas Fellowship, a nonprofit that coaches men and women to become providers based on a biblical worldview. He is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and is COO of EHOP Health, a chronic disease reversal company. He previously served as CEO of CrossComm, a nationally-recognized app development studio, and was named “MBA Student of the Year” at Ireland’s leading business school. He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with his wife and family.