By Gene Dillard
I was raised in a minister’s home. I became very bitter, very cynical, very anti-God and anti-everything until I was 42. At the age of 42, I found God, or God found me, or we found each other I don’t know. I was not the typical person.
I was on an airplane and a gentleman came back to me and I’d never seen the guy before. I was in a pair of blue jeans and a plaid shirt, and I was reading a book. It had the title folded over so he had no idea what I was reading. He came to me and he said, “Sir, you’re going to understand what I have to say to you.” But here’s what I want to say, there was an empty seat in the middle. He said “God told me to come and tell you that my spirit is not going to continue to strive with you and that you need to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”. And he said “you’ll know what that means” and he got up and left. That was the whole complete message to me.
I’d been raised in a minister’s home and I knew how to talk the religious language, I was around people, but my life wasn’t; I’d never surrendered my life to him. Because I’d chosen one side, my brother had become a minister, and I became the anti. But when I got to my motel room, I found me a Gideon Bible, and I read it. And I said, “But God, I want to make you a deal. If you’ll come into my life and you’ll forgive me, I am not going to tell anyone. But they will see a difference in my life.” And I went home and 2 weeks later (my both of our parents are deceased) my wife’s aunt came by. And she said, “How are you guys doing? And my wife said, “Great, but Gene’s really weirded out. He is so different”.
I started on a journey, but along the way…, anyone that tells you that money doesn’t change you… it will. It changes some of us for the good, and it changes some of us for the bad. And my hero was a person that was very very very very very wealthy. He was everything that my father wasn’t. I think you saw a picture in the paper, where he just sold his house yesterday for 21.7 million dollars, the Blare mansion over on Riverside. He was my hero. But my mother died, and my hero was too busy to come to the funeral. I had worked for him at that time about 10 years.
My father died, he had been in this gentleman’s nursing home, and the gentleman was too busy to come to my father’s funeral. I started seeing something, but yet, money had control. Our banks always made really good money “Whatsoever your hand find to do, do it with all your heart, soul and mind.” So I literally worked 7 days a week. Last year I had 4 days off including holidays.
But on June the 13th of last year a change came in my life that I never ever wanted to happen in my life. My son was in love and had a beautiful young lady that he was seeing, and he had dated her for 2 years, they were talking about marriage. She worked for Priority Bank. She was a tall gorgeous person. She went to church with us every Sunday morning. I suspected her and my son were doing things that we dad’s don’t approve of; because sometimes I’d go by and her car would be at his house at hours it shouldn’t be at his house. But she went to church every Sunday. And on a Sunday morning when we were sitting at our church, tears were flowing down her eyes. And on Tuesday, June the 13th of last year, she went by my son’s house during her lunch break. And when she did, she went into his house to feed his 2 dogs.
She took 30 pills. Sorry, I am getting emotional here. She went in the kitchen, got a butcher knife, cut both wrists, walked into his bedroom, opened his night stand, and took a little 22 pistol that I had given him. Chambered a bullet, put it in her mouth, and pulled the trigger. Then she went to meet her maker. What could I have done? Success was mine. I made plenty of money. I was the principle share holder in 3 banks.
On June 17th we had a funeral, in my partner’s funeral home. He didn’t come. My son, the only person around turned and said to me, He said, “Dad, Mr. __ didn’t come.” And I said, “I don’t understand”. We’ve been with him 15 years. I reached in my pocket and took out a pen, very similar to this 49 cent pen. And I looked at it, and something in my mind said, that’s all you are. As long as you produce, you’ll keep this pen, but when the pen quits producing, you’ll throw it in the trash and you’ll get another pen.
And on June the 17th my life took a total, total turn. I took a yellow pad, and I wrote down every person that I thought disliked me. And at the top of that list, I wrote down the names of the people, that I disliked. And I have made contact, in person, with everyone of those people. Now if some of you have aught against me, I don’t know that, so that’s why I haven’t come and asked you to forgive me. But I went to each one of those people, and as I did, the things of this earth, starting changing.
My theme song became, be not conformed (Romans 12:2), be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you my prove what is the good, acceptable, and perfect. If you go back and look it up in Hebrew, that’s not a continuum. It’s getting to a place of finish. I took it and interpreted it, Gene Dillard practology. I had been in the good will of God, I had been in the acceptable will of God, I want to find the perfect will of God. And I know most ministers will tell you, no, those three words are used interchangeably in the Hebrew. But I chose it not to be that way.
As I walked toward my Father, I walked away from other people. The things that were absolutely important to me having the highest return on equity, having the most growth at work, having the biggest house, having a nicer car, my wife having more jewelry, all this started to change.
But as I changed, (I probably am taking this from Pastor Marvin), this was normal. All of a sudden I was given a new normal. They couldn’t handle my new normal. I said something for the first time in my whole life; I had never said this before. There was something that came up in the board meeting and it was a controversial situation, and when it came time for me to have my opinion as chairman of the board I said those fatal words that you never want to hear said. I said, “I don’t care, do whatever you want to do, I don’t care”. And I really didn’t. But they were still paying me to care.
They were paying me to have a position. They were paying me to be the person they had dealt with for 15 years… 20 plus years. But all of a sudden there was someone different. And the journey that I’m on, it’s a very lonely journey. Because people have a hard time relating to whom I am today. Because they have programmed to how you’ve always been, how they’ve treated you for the last 10 years. So, be careful. Those prayers that you’ve asked for can be answered. The mother of the daughter, we went to her and said, “Did she ever give you any clues?” No clues. My son… no clues. But she was gone. And my hero was not there.
So I started on a quest. I went to my partner and I said, “I will sell you my interest, because we had our buy/sell agreement. And he said, maybe I don’t want to buy it. I don’t want you to leave. And the rest of it is insignificant, but I left. And today, I’m as happy as I’ve ever been. I’m an employee, I’m under authority, I’m not in authority. It’s a new role.
Since 1974, I have been in authority. Today, I’m under authority. Yeah, I have a little title called President. But I report to a whole bunch of layers up and it’s OK. I told my partner, even though I didn’t put it in writing, that I would not work in Tulsa for 1 year. I would not solicit 1 customer, for 1 year because wherever you build your foundation, is where you have to occupy. And I have built banks on vendettas. Because somebody didn’t treat us right, we’re going to go over here and destroy them. Don’t to that…don’t build your business on a vendetta. Because wherever you build your foundation is where you have to occupy.
When that vendetta is over, you don’t have anything else to do. There’s plenty of business for everyone. So when you go from job A to job B, don’t try to destroy the person at job A. The bible tells me to pray for those that spitefully use you. And this is a new world for me. It’s an exciting world for me. I love it.
I drive an hour every day to Bartlesville. And I had an attorney call me one day and he says, “I’d like to meet you for breakfast.” And I said “sure”. So I met him for breakfast. And he said, “You know every time I go to Oklahoma City, I write a verse down and I memorize that verse. So I will tell you today that everyday that I drive to Bartlesville, I memorize 2 verses. “Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against Thee”. “Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. How are you going to renew your mind? Through His word. Through His word. Heaven and earth will pass away, but not one jot or title of His word. My wife said, jot and tittle is not in there and I said yes it is. So I went and got the Bible and we found jot and tittle. It’s exciting. I’ve been around the word but I have never been in the word.
The day after the young lady’s funeral, my boss called me and said I need to meet you at the bank at 2 o’clock. And it was a Sunday. So I went, we met, it was 5:30 when we finished. And that’s when it all started coming together. But it came together with the foolishness of man (holding up the ink pen) a little ink pen. When I pulled the pen out of my pocket, I felt that was my significance. And I’m not saying that’s your significance to your corporation, I’m saying that was my significance.
I’m saying that when I started on the journey, it is so exciting. It is so exciting. When Ted met me out here and he said, “Gene, I was a little concerned; I was calling you on your cell phone.” I said Satan did everything under the sun to keep me from getting here today. There was no 1 person, there were not 2, there were not 3, but there were 4 people pulled over and stopped today. The police were everywhere.
Fortunately along with this, I now drive the speed limit. If you’re going to be a Christian be a Christian or if you’re going to be a bear…be a grizzly. Don’t do anything half way. It is so unnatural for me to put my cruise control on 70, because my mind says, 74… 73… ahhh, you know what’s a little fudge. It might be OK for you, I’m just saying when you’re trying to find…, then it drops down to 65, I see that I’m running a little bit late. I don’t’ want to go from 70 to 65. I want to leave it on 70. But I found a scripture. It says the little foxes spoil the vine. So, I’m not going to compromise on the little things.
And I woke up one day and my daughter’s 29, my son’s 26 and my baby’s 19 at ORU. And my son made a statement to me after this calamity. “Dad I never ever ever remember you being at one of my soccer games for the whole game. You’re always there by the 4th quarter.” I was trying to turn another deal. I was trying to inch out just a little bit more. I was trying to always have the number 1 efficiency ratio; I was always trying to have the highest return on equity. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to do all things in moderation and I couldn’t, because a lot of us Pentecost are obsessive compulsive personalities and that’s what I learned.
I learned that from my father. I learned that from my mother. But on June the 17th, let me just tell you a byline, the mother of the daughter, she came to the funeral. She had been married 4 times and 3 ex-husbands showed up. The biological father and the mother were there at the funeral home and funeral home operator called me and she said “Mr. Dillard, I’ve just got to tell you this story, first time it’s ever happened.
The parents have decided that they are going to cremate this young 23 year old lady. And so I brought some urns and said what color of urns would you like to look at?” And the father said, “Urn? We want 2. She gets half the ashes and I get the other half.” All of those send messages to me. You know…hatred, bitterness, cruelty; you know those are not fruits of the spirit.
When I left the bank, I was instructed in my mind, to take the high road, and never ever say a word about the previous bank that I worked at. So I don’t. I give them total permission to say anything they want to about why I left. My God and I know why I left. And that’s a journey I’m taking and it had nothing to do with the bank. Again, neat things are happening.
Have you been to the southern gospel sing? I went to my first one. I’d never had time to go to a Southern gospel sing on Saturday night because I was doing a deal. An eighty-nine year old man called me and says “Gene; brother Ted’s got this southern gospel sing going on at the Assembly of God”. I said, “When is it”? And he said “tonight”. I have now gone 6 Saturdays. I’m not working on Saturday. I have now gone 6 Sundays. This is the first time in 30 years. It’s cool. It’s cool. I am sorry, so sorry, and I can never get it back, but I can tell you one thing, brother Phillips, brother Robertson, and Gene Dillard, when we die, and they put us in the box, we have the same. Nothing. Only what’s done for Christ will last. We can’t write a check, when we’re in the box.
It’s still a very significant part of my life. I never ever want to ever again offend one of my brothers in Christ. “There is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”. And so I don’t want condemnation in my life. And if I have anger, bitterness or aught, towards you, I apologize and if you have it towards me please forgive me. If you want to hang on to it, that’s your privilege. It’s a lot more fun when you get that baggage off. But if you want to hang on to it, I give you my fullest blessings.
Like me or hate me, but whatever you do, I would that you be not hot or cold but because you’re lukewarm I’ll spew you out. So if you dislike me… dislike me with all your gusto. And if you like me, like me with all your gusto cause don’t be lukewarm. Because the man will spew you out.
Thank you for having me, and allowing me to be here today. I don’t know if I’ve used up my time, but I feel like I have. Let me just quote you some of Scriptures. You hear these all the time. I go to a Holy Roller church, charismatic church. Mark 11:23 Mark 11:24, I’ve heard it every year, but you know I couldn’t quote it word for word. Mark 11:24… when you hear that, Mark 11:23. One says for verily I say whatsoever things you desire, no I’m getting them switched, let me get back. Whatsoever I say unto you… for verily I say unto you that whosoever should say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he desires. Or he shall have what he desires. One says whatsoever… I started putting that back and started listening; you know the Word is exciting. Absolutely, it’s just exciting. And it has an application for everything that you do.
Sometimes we get to believing our business card and we really think we are important. And we’re not. We’re not. We’re just all dirt. I am so thankful that at the age of almost 63, I’ve got this journey that I’m on, and it’s such a good time. I watched a customer of mine, and I hope I’m not divulging something I shouldn’t, but he had cancer. But he never had a down day. He had open heart surgery, but he never had a down day. He said, “Gene; I’ve got to tell you what I did to my elders at my church.” He was the pastor of a large Church of Christ here. He said, “I took a chair and put it on my podium, and I called my elders and I said I want you to do what the scripture says.” It says call the elders and have them anoint you. Now talk about a bold statement for a Church of Christ. We’re used to that.
So, I’ve had some wonderful wonderful people cross my path. But I was always too busy. The only thing I could cram in was a Mazzio’s luncheon, and I made sure it was not more than an hour and 5 minutes. Because I had to get back and do another deal. And it’s OK. But that’s not the spot that I am in life today. I am having just a glorious amount of fun. And I hope that you all have the same amount of fun. We’re going to be around here, a long time. We will be around three score and ten or more. I just, Harold says that was years ago for me. He immediately looked over at Don Hail; I don’t know what that meant. It’s just so much, and in everything give thanks. For this is the will of Christ Jesus concerning Gene Dillard.
Try to tell your son that when he’s burying his loved one. Don’t know. We went thru that with my parents dying and I understood it because they were at the age. But suicide, it’s just, Oh My. You don’t have any answers. They didn’t give you any answers and in the letter she wrote, she said to my son, “Keep a little part of your heart for me.” And the last thing she said was “I will see you in heaven”. Those are things that contradict some of my training. Because I was trained if you commit suicide, you’re going down. I don’t know today, and I’m not challenging anyone’s theory if they believe that. I don’t know. That’s not my point of view. But I serve a God that’s going to give me, mercy and not justice. And that’s the same God that you all serve. He’s going to give us mercy. He’s never going to give us justice. Because if he would have given me justice, you know I would make foolish statements. “Well I pay my tithes.” God’s going to bless me. It rains on the just and it rains on the unjust.
You know, I’m doing this for my family. You know most of us don’t do things for our family. We do it for our own ego needs. We like to see our name in lights. Our family would take a whole lot less. They want you. Now has it created a problem in my home? Sure. My wife’s normal. It’s this. Now I’m there on Saturday and Sunday. I’m underfoot. She has her friends. She has her world. And I want my wife. So, we’ve had to adjust. Those of you who are married know what adjustment means. It’s not all peaches and cream, but boy it’s worth it. It’s just absolutely worth it.