He Had Everything — but God
Who wants to be a millionaire? Lance Mudd did. But after this Louisiana rodeo cowboy-turned-businessman made his first million, it was not enough. His bank statement told him he had made it big, but his heart told him otherwise. Mudd and his wife Kelly — who met when he was 15 and she was 12 — and their three daughters wanted for nothing. After Mudd sold one business, he built up another that became even more successful. And yet he felt an emptiness he could not escape.
Mudd left the rodeo circuit and returned to school. When his wife was expecting their first baby, he dropped out of school again and worked a series of other jobs until launching a waste management company. Through hard work and excellent customer service, Mudd succeeded and his business expanded. He and Kelly had two girls when he sold his business for close to $2 million. They paid off the home they had just built, and Kelly was able to quit teaching and stay home full time with the girls.
Sounds like they achieved the American Dream, right? But Mudd persisted in chasing it. After Hurricane Rita devastated the Louisiana coastline in 2005, he began construction and reclamation work, ultimately building up another company. Again, he prospered. But he did so at a price. Customer service meant keeping customers happy — very happy. Mudd took them on weekend hunting, golfing, and fishing trips, motorcycle riding in Sturgis, S.D., and car racing in Daytona Beach, Fla. His commitment to keeping his customers happy led to heavy drinking, which he had grown accustomed to doing alongside them.
Needless to say, his fast-paced life took a great toll on his personal life. He admits that he was traveling on "the road to hell" and was in danger of losing his soul.
But the lessons in faith he learned from his mother had not been in vain. Mudd, a cradle Catholic, always wore his scapular and kept returning to the confessional. He even made a few spiritual retreats and returned home feeling at peace and closer to God. But not long after he got back to the office, his focus would shift back to money, and the cycle would begin again.
Finally, he went to a silent retreat and looked deep within his heart and examined his conscience. He had placed business and money at the center of his life, at the expense of his faith and his family. At the retreat, in the presence of God, he was confronted with the words of Christ, "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his soul?" (Mt 16:25)
After the retreat, Mudd's brother and his wife met a priest, Fr. Donald Kaufman, who was trying to build a Catholic church in a village outside of Cancun, Mexico. Mudd flew out to see things for himself. Father Kaufman took him five miles into the jungle to the church he was building, dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was there that Lance encountered the poor from the surrounding villages, many of whom walked for miles to attend Holy Mass and to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. He was deeply moved by their faith and devotion. He recognized that, in spite of their poverty, these humble and simple people had everything, for they had Christ, while he who had everything, had nothing.
While in Mexico he met another priest, Fr. James Hogan. The two struck up a friendship. Father James took Lance around to other parishes to show him congregations that were trying to build churches. Lance committed to help build a church named Divine Mercy, and he is currently helping out with a third, Holy Family Parish in Playa del Carmen.
While in Mexico, Fr. James gave Lance a copy of the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, which he credits with opening up the floodgates of mercy for him. The book inspired him to reform his life and reorder his priorities, to seek first the kingdom of God and to strive for holiness. For too many years, he had lived a life of self-fulfillment. Now, he wanted to serve God.
He approached his new-found mission with all the fervor and devotion that had helped him build such successful businesses. He even put his company up for sale, believing he should walk away from the business world. When it did not sell, Fr. James told him that God does not ask everyone to sell all they have, but rather, to put serving God before all else. Mudd feared that his new life would not fit well into the business world. To his surprise, he was wrong.
Now, instead of feeling responsible for entertaining his customers, Mudd feels responsible for living out his faith by being a Godly husband, father, and businessman, in that order.
Now Lance uses his talents and resources to evangelize others and to help build up the Body of Christ. In addition to sharing his conversion story with other men and business professionals, he is involved in several missionary projects in Third World countries and is the co-founder of 4th Cup Ministries, a non-profit evangelization apostolate based in his home Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
For more information on Lance Mudd, visit lancemudd.com.