South Florida Native Gregory W. Edwards, CLU, ChFC, CFP, a partner of Lawless, Edwards & Warren Wealth Management, credits Lifework Leadership for strengthening his faith and encouraging him to roll up his sleeves in support of Sonrise Mission, a Bible Training Center dedicated to helping individuals struggling with addiction and homelessness.
Applicable in today’s marketplace, Lifework Leadership is a nine-month course that examines the life of Jesus as the best example of leadership and encourages attendees to view their workplace as a platform to positively affect others. The program includes teaching from nationally-known speakers, case studies with prominent business people, literary discussion and practical life application. For many it is also an opportunity to connect with peers in relationships that enrich their personal and professional lives.
A Certified Financial Planner with over 30 years of experience, Greg takes great pride in serving as his clients’ “Personal C.F.O.,” building strong relationships as he helps them realize their current and future financial goals.
“We’re great advisors to people who have privately held businesses – the decisionmakers. That’s who we work well with,” Edwards said.
However, by embracing a model of integrated wealth management, he navigates through areas of personal and corporate finance including investment management, wealth accumulation, cash flow generation, insurance, and business and estate planning to create a truly comprehensive financial plan.
Having earned numerous industry awards for his professional council and service to clients over his career, Edwards is active in the community and industry as well, serving as a Board Member of Freedom Fighter Outdoors, the Financial Planning Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the Estate Planning Council of Broward County.
He was invited to participate in Lifework Leadership by his friend, Rob Kornahrens, president of Advanced Roofing, at a time when his faith was drifting. A graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School, he and his wife, Deborah, had been active at “The Pink Church” while their oldest daughter, Delaney, attended Lighthouse Christian School. However, changes at the church and an experience with events from the passing of a family member contributed to his drift away from spiritual things.
“For me it’s been a personal journey,” said Edwards. An avid boater, fisherman and free diver, Edwards acknowledges he’s “not a fan of pomp and circumstance,” and feels most at home in a little church they often visit during weekend trips to the Bahamas. Since participating in Lifework, he also regularly attends a men’s Bible study with some of the businessmen he met there.
“I met wonderful friends at Lifework Leadership,” Edwards said. “Super people that I consider close friends now.”
Lifework Leadership had such a transformative effect on him, Edwards encouraged his firm to sponsor the program financially so others can also participate.
We asked him to share a little about his experience.
Good News – How has Lifework impacted you?
Greg Edwards – I’ve used my experience with Lifework Leadership to help clients through their philanthropic endeavors with the National Christian Foundation. That was an important takeaway for me that has helped out clients in a big way.
And here’s one piece of Lifework that totally changed me. My dad raised me to give back. You have to help your community and my dad did a great job with that. I’ve done tons of charity stuff over the years, but I wanted to find something where it was like roll up your sleeves. How can you really help? I found that in Sonrise Mission, which is a biblically-based rehabilitation facility in Oakland Park. I’ve been engaged there for probably about three years now. I actually got introduced through Rob [Kornahrens], who owns advanced roofing. Rob is their next door neighbor – where his business is – and Sonrise Mission and Victor and Marian, his wife, are just the sweetest people. They house probably 30 people, men and women, and all they do is preach the gospel and help counsel them to put their lives back together. You are free to come and go as you want. But it’s amazing what that place has done. These people, a lot of them are homeless. They are just done with life and all of a sudden they get reborn. It’s powerful stuff.
GN – So what is your involvement there?
GE – I can’t say that I have a specific role at Sonrise Mission, but I always try to share their story about the good work they are doing when I can. I introduced one of my dear friends, John Wilson, who occasionally preaches there on Monday night. So sometimes I’ll go and hear his message, and I have helped over the years. We raised money. That’s what I can do. We paid off their mortgage. The woman who held the mortgage had died and her estate was entitled to it, so we raised the money in probably four or five months to pay off the entire mortgage and take that burden off of them. It’s great. Some people call it a half way house. It’s not a drug rehab program. You basically immerse yourself in the word of God and it saves a lot of lives. I’ve seen it. We have a graduation every year. It’s a nine month program. When possible many reconnect with family and they try to get them on their way.
GN – Are you on the board there?
GE – Yes, we would be the equivalent of a local advisory board because its operated out of Mission Teens in New Jersey. They have about a dozen of these facilities throughout the country. It’s really wonderful the work they do and with no public funding. If you ask Victor, what do you do when you have a need? He says, “I just pray, Greg.” That guy has faith like I can’t even begin to understand.
GN – So that connection came out of Lifework Leadership?
GE – That totally came out of Lifework. And I’ve got my wife involved in that too. She embraces it. We like it because it’s so grass roots. The big pomp and circumstance, I don’t really go for that. But when you can really role up your sleeves and get into it, I enjoy it.
GN – What are some of the benefits to Lifework beyond what we’ve talked about?
GE – The speakers were fantastic. I so enjoyed Friday mornings once a month, to go and hear the speakers. Probably one of the more memorable ones was Ed Kobel of DeBartolo Development. Just to hear his faith and how he was able to continue to operate and move that company forward. I thought that was really fascinating. And the guy from Chick-fil-A, I can’t remember all of their names. I never knew that story and talk about living by your beliefs. Shutting your business down for 24-hours. It’s unbelievable and just listening to those speakers was great. And I’ve gone back once or twice since I saw somebody that I wanted to go listen to that I haven’s heard before. And I met wonderful friends. Some of the super people I consider close friends now. Not that I did it for that, but there are wonderful people that I met there.
GN – Are there any other ministries you support?
GE – As a firm, we support Boca Helping Hands, which is a food bank here in Boca. The Catholic church. Paul, my partner, has us doing stuff all the time, and I wouldn’t say no to him because he wouldn’t say no to me. And we support Gibbons. We’re blessed that we can do that… we’ve always believed in doing that.
GN – You mentioned you would love for your wife to go through Lifework Leadership. Who do you think it would benefit and why?
GE – I know at the time they wanted C-suite people, but I think it is beneficial to others as well. It does open up your mind and thinking and could benefit a lot of other mid-level people, maybe some middle management. And there were a few of those folks in my class too. It wasn’t all business owners.
GN – Is there anything you would want to offer about your lifework experience that we haven’t hit on.
GE – I think it’s like with anything. If you get engaged and get involved you are going to get out of it what you put into it. It’s a setting where you can let your guard down. You can find yourself, hopefully open yourself up and be a little more vulnerable about your faith.