FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Are You Working for God’s Approval?

with Pat Gelsinger | February 19, 2007
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Today on the broadcast, Pat Gelsinger, Chief Technology Officer for Intel Corporation, reflects on his boyhood and the work ethic he learned from his father. Hear Pat reminisce about his budding career, as well as his budding relationship with Linda, the young woman who captured his heart and eventually became his wife.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Today on the broadcast, Pat Gelsinger, Chief Technology Officer for Intel Corporation, reflects on his boyhood and the work ethic he learned from his father. Hear Pat reminisce about his budding career, as well as his budding relationship with Linda, the young woman who captured his heart and eventually became his wife.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Today on the broadcast, Pat Gelsinger, Chief Technology Officer for Intel Corporation, reflects on his boyhood and the work ethic he learned from his father.

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Are You Working for God’s Approval?

With Pat Gelsinger
February 19, 2007
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Bob: What ought to be one of the ways that your co-workers could identify you as a follower of Jesus Christ in the workplace?  Here's Pat Gelsinger, the chief technology officer at Intel.

Pat: Everything that we do should be held to the highest possible standard.  You might not like your boss, you might not like your job, but you should unquestionably the single best employee at what you're doing, because you don't work for Intel, Motorola, FedEx, or anybody else.  You work for the Lord Jesus Christ, and He wants excellence from each one of us.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 19th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Today we'll talk about what living for Christ looks like for a guy with a high-demand job.  Stay tuned.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  We have a problem facing us in what we're going to try and do today, and the problem is that, left to our own devices, we could just sit around and talk technology for the whole program, couldn't we?

Dennis: And there would be a lot of wives and moms who wouldn't be very pleased with us.

Bob: Some dads who probably wouldn't care, either, you know?

Dennis: I think so.  But we have with us Pat Gelsinger.  Pat, welcome to the broadcast.

Pat: Thank you very much, Dennis, it's great to be with you.

Dennis: Pat is the senior vice president of business products for Intel, a little West Coast company that now has plants in 50 locations around the world.  Pat's area of responsibility is about $20 billion, 13,000 employees, and for a number of years he was the CTO, the chief technology officer. 

 Now, a lot of the women who are listening right now, Bob, they're thinking, "Why does this matter?"  Well, if you're married to a workaholic, then this broadcast is going to be very meaningful to you.

Bob: Is this confessions of a workaholic?  Is that what this is?

Dennis: You know, as I was reading Pat's book, which is called "Balancing Your Family, Faith and Work," I couldn't help but think he's pretty rough on himself and, Pat, you did a good job here as you and your wife, Linda, were raising four children, and you career was taking off.  You did a good job of being honest.  I really appreciate that.

Pat: Well, thank you.  I think some of the writing was really sort of – you know, be willing to sort of open up about what worked, what didn't work, who we are, and what we're trying to accomplish.

Dennis: You said your dad was an incredible model of being a worker.  In fact, so much so you felt like you were lazy compared to him, growing up?

Pat: Well, that's how I described it, and Dad work on the farm, he worked in the steel mill, he was a township supervisor, and just in that environment in Pennsylvania, it's all about a hard work ethic.  You know, people have to work extremely hard in the farm life to make ends meet, and you learn that work ethic, and then you end up in a different profession, and that ethic carries with you very powerfully.

Dennis: Now, you graduated from high school at what age?

Pat: Well, I was 18, but I had gone back to graduate having left high school to go finish my Associate's Degree.

Dennis: At the same time?

Pat: Yes, so I skipped my last year of high school …

Dennis: … and went to two years of college at the same time?

Pat: Did two years of college in about a year and a quarter.  So I graduated from high school in June, graduated with my two-year degree in August, Intel came recruiting, and I went to work for them as a technician that same year.  So, literally, at 18 years old, I was walking in as the newest of new recruits at Intel.

Bob: And what was your job?  A technician – what did you do?

Pat: Oh, I was running tests reliability on some of the chips that were part of like the IBM PC, the 8086, 8088, those are some of the chips that I was doing some testing.

Bob: Now you're a single guy working for Intel.  Were you in California at this time?  Had you moved from Pennsylvania to California?

Pat: Yes, a ripe old age of 18, something I couldn't imagine doing today.  I picked up, moved from Pennsylvania and drove out to California and started to work for Intel.

Bob: Was being a husband and a father anywhere on your radar screen at 18?

Pat: So far from it.  I had decided when I started for Intel, and part of the reason I took the job for Intel was I wanted to finish my education – so bachelor's, master's, Ph.D., and they had a flexible tuition reimbursement program to do that, and when I met Linda, my wife-to-be, I explained to her my 10-year plan – finish my bachelor's, finish my master's, finish my Ph.D., do post-doc work, and then I'd think about getting married.

Bob: And how did that go over with Linda, your wife-to-be?

Pat: We were just friends at the time, so she sort of knew what my agenda was, and as we started to get to know each other better, God had a very different plan.

Dennis: You actually had quite an interesting dating relationship.

Pat: Well, we joke that we squeezed a year worth of dating into three years, because we only would see each other at church on Sundays and that was it.  Other times, we'd just talk to each other over the phone, because my work schedule and school schedule were so intense, I just didn't have time any other time of the week.  So Friday nights we'd go out, and we'd see each other at church on Sunday, and that was our dating.

Bob: And it was so structured, your life was so structured, that if you did see her another time of the week, then you got Friday night back, right?

Pat: Yes, one time she called me up.  She had a big fight with her dad, so she asked if we could get together, and it was a Thursday night, and being – you know, I didn't have any exams the next day, any big projects, so I said, "Yeah, I can do that."

 So I went over, and we spent some time talking through the situation, and as I was leaving that night, she said, "Well, this is Thursday," so Friday night was our normal night, "What are we going to do tomorrow night?"  And I replied with all love and generosity to her, "You just had your night.  I have to study tomorrow night."  And she still stuck with me through it all.

Dennis: There was actually – well, a moment when you felt trapped by her, and it came because of a medical problem that she presented to you.

Pat: Yes, indeed.  We had been dating for a while.  She knew my 10-year plan – master's, Ph.D., post doc, and …

Dennis: She had a good idea that you were pretty driven?

Pat: Yes, yes, absolutely.  And she had had a disease, endometriosis, affected the reproductive system – one ovary removed, part of the second one removed, and the doctor said, "Have kids now or never."  And we were dating, and I had my plan and, all of a sudden, she just laid out the medical situation all and said, "I just have to let you know, because if, in fact, we would get married down the stream, and I wouldn't be able to have children, I couldn't live with not having let you know the facts of the situation."

 So that was the most agonizing summer of my life as I struggled with my plan versus potentially what God's plan was in life.  And after that difficult summer asked her to marry me.  We got married the following year and that part of one ovary produced Elizabeth named after the mother of John the Baptist, just to – you know, she was pregnant just three months later, so one of the great blessings of our life.

Bob: But before all of this, there was still one hurdle in your relationship with Linda that had to be overcome.  She diagnosed something about your spiritual health that was a critical factor if the two of you were going to be married.

Pat: Absolutely.  I showed up to church.  We were working on my car, so I walked to the nearest church.  I was born and raised in a Lutheran church, baptized six days old with full knowledge of what I did, right?  Confirmation and everything, and thought I was a Christian.

 And when Linda and some of the other people in the Christian church there asked me if I was a Christian, the answer was yes – baptized, confirmed, I was even president of the youth group, so, of course, I was.

 And as they started to see my life, it wasn't so obvious that I was living that way and, in fact, I was a Sunday Christian.  I liked to look good at church, you know, like the mothers and the grandmothers because they had good-looking daughters, and that was about the extent of my spiritual health at the time.

 And the sermon in February of 1980 was Revelation 3:15, "I know your deeds.  You are neither hot nor cold, and since you are lukewarm, I will spit or spew or vomit you out of my mouth," and that just really spoke to me in a powerful way, and I realized, yeah, in fact, I hadn't made Christ Lord of my life.

Bob: What was going on in the rest of your life that would have given Linda the clues that maybe you were just a Sunday Christian?

Pat: Well, my roommates – one was sort of a neo-Nazi kind of maniac who liked building bombs and stuff like that, and then Jack, the other roommate, was a deadhead, pot-smoking, rock-and-roll kind of guy.  So those were my spiritual mentors at the time in the household we were living.  And the first time Linda ever visited, she just went crazy.

 So they began praying for me and soon really challenging me to be a Christian seven days a week.

Dennis: So you considered the claims of Christ as applied to your life.  You're an engineer, I mean, you're an inventor, a designer.  Was that a tough decision to come to in terms of submitting your life to your Maker and your Master and your Redeemer?

Pat: Oh, absolutely.  As an engineer, you're studied in science, you're studied in the scientific process and reasoning.  I have grown up in the church, you know, Lutheran church, you know, life is good, right?  You live good and all is well and God will look at you with favor, right?  You hear all these wonderful things, but this idea of faced with a personal Creator that you couldn't logically deduce, scientifically prove, or be able to feel or touch was a challenging decision to make that personal, unequivocal statement that He is Lord of my life.

Bob: And did you stop and think at all, "Gee, I wonder what impact turning over my life to Christ will have on working at Intel?"

Pat: Well, I was so focused on my career, so focused on finishing school at the time, I can't say I really thought through that.  But soon thereafter, I was really confronted with the notion that I should be a full-time minister, and I really thought that's what God was leading me to at the time.  So I laid – struggling, struggling, prayed about this, could never get resolution of that, and then ultimately laid a fleece before God, and as I lay that before Him and said, "You know, if this happens, then I'm going to know that You want to lead me into full-time ministry."

 And as soon as I did, I had peace, that I realized the most powerful ministry of my life was the workplace that I was in and, in fact, executing that fully to His glory became the mission of my life at that time.

Dennis: One of the things you mention in your book is you believe Christians ought to be the best employees possible.

Pat: Yes, unequivocally.  Colossians 3:23 and 24, "Work heartily as for the Lord and not for men."  Everything that we do should be held to the highest possible standard and unquestionably, as we look across the workforce, you might not like your boss, you might not like your job, but you should be, unquestionably, the single best employee at what you're doing. 

 Because you don't work for Intel, Motorola, FedEx, or anybody else.  You work for the Lord Jesus Christ, and He wants excellence from each one of us. 

Bob: Do you think, in general, Christians have got that?

Pat: I think some do.  I think a lot don't.  And I think our Lord is hurt when we don't give our best.

Dennis: I really agree.  It ought to be that Christians would be sought out to be the employees to be hired in the marketplace.  I want to ask you a question, because here's a guy, you know, in reading your book, definitely a cut above in terms of intelligence.  I mean, graduating from high school and the equivalent of junior college by the age of 18, going to work for Intel, how did you propose?  I mean, were you a romantic guy when you proposed to Linda?  You were how old at the time?

Pat: I was 21.

Dennis: Twenty-one.  You and Linda are different, you say that in the book, so how did you propose to her?

Pat: Well, so, I had told her about – when she had confronted me with the situation about her health and the endometriosis, I said, "I'll give you an answer before the end of the summer," agonizing summer, right, but I said "before school starts, I'm going to give you an answer about the situation."

 I struggled and struggled and struggled, and so finally I came to a clear understanding this is God's direction.  So we went out to eat that night to the fish market in Santa Clara, El Camino Real, I know the restaurant, and I was a bit of a tightwad, right, coming from a farming community, you don't go out to eat that often and, in all generosity, I said "Order anything you want."

 So at that point Linda's stomach is now tied in knots because she knows something's going to happen.

Dennis: Something's up, huh?

Pat: Yeah, something's up, so she can't eat anything at all.  So she orders whatever she does.  I'm eating lobster, I'm as comfortable as can be, right, thinking I'm having this great evening and so on like that.  Then we back to my apartment …

Dennis: You really were cool as a cucumber?  Now, come on, huh?

Pat: Yeah, I was – because I'd already made the decision.

Bob: He knows what's going to happen.

Pat: Yeah, I knew what was going on.  I went back to the apartment, I had roses for her there and got down on the knee and proposed, but as soon as I said, "Order anything you want," she knew what the night was about.

Bob: Because you're not going to say that if you're going to break up with her, if you're going to tell her it's all over, right?

Pat: Right, right, and I'd never said that before since I was such a tightwad at the time.

Dennis: Okay, now I've got the real killer question – how long into your marriage before you realized your workaholism was going to be a problem to your marriage and family?

Pat: Well, I think it was probably three years before our marriage started, because Linda was sort of seeing that, and she really struggled with her attraction to me and seeing the discipline and drive that she saw in me but also the fear that I would never stop. 

 And we've worked through that almost from day one of our marriage – my ability to get detached from work, to stop when I get home.  I'd almost 10 years of our marriage, one time – I didn't take vacation.  Why take vacation?  I like to work.  Why should I stop?

 And then Linda came to me one day, and she explained to me the following – she says, "You may not need a vacation, but your family needs you on vacation," and the light bulb went off.  And since then I've taken every day of vacation I'm entitled to, and it's been just one thing after another, and I talk in the book about the travel chart, the days at home, and we keep grading of how I do at home, and we introduce that as another tool to help manage my time and keep things in balance.

Bob: Explain the travel chart.  How does that work?

Pat: We grade how many days I'm at home so that numerator, two points for a day I'm home by 5, one point for a day I'm home by 6:15, zero points if I'm not home or home later than that, minus one for days I'm gone on the weekend, so that's the numerator.

 The denominator …

Dennis: I'm just thinking about executing this.  You know, you'd have to be an engineer to execute this.

Bob: Yeah, well, Barbara's listening at home, so keep going.

Pat: It's a simple spreadsheet.  It really isn't hard, Dennis, I'll set it up for you.

Dennis: Okay, keep going, keep going.

Pat: And then the denominator is the number of workdays.  So – and then the ratio is just my be-at-home percentage that we have by that ratio.  And we grade that, and we plan it ahead of time, and we have goals.  I'm a goal-driven guy, so the goal is 70 percent so I know what I'm working to.  I measure it every month.

Dennis: I'm looking at your percentages here.  You've got an example here, and I assume these were actual numbers.

Pat: Yeah, that was actual data.

Dennis: All the way in June of 2000 at 95 percent to 45 percent in December of 2001.

Pat: Yeah, that was a bad month.

Dennis: To all the way up to June, 136 percent.

Pat: Yeah, remember I've got two point days.  So I get bonus points if I'm actually home early.  So it works out, you know, good and bad that way.  And, of course, I've had months where I've been almost negative for the whole month.

Bob: And do you get anything for your points?

Pat: Well, any goal.  For a goal-driven guy, any goal is worth it, right, but it's really the favor and commitments of my wife.  Because we used to argue about the data – you know, how much are you home?  I'd say, "Oh, last month wasn't that bad."  She'd say, "Yeah, it was, it was real bad," and we were arguing about how she felt not about how often I was really home.

Dennis: Not about the facts.

Pat: Yeah, and then we got the facts out of the way, and then we could start saying, "Okay, you didn't feel like I was home."  "Oh, now we can start working on that."  And it just provides a tool, a metric for us to set expectations, manage how well we were doing, and then get to the real issues.

Dennis: You know, the thing I liked about your book was when you came to this point in the book where you talked about the heated arguments you had.  First of all, I like it because I could identify.  Barbara and I have had more spirited discussions around schedule, priorities, time at home, and when I'm there being there, than maybe any other subject in our entire marriage.

Pat: Absolutely, the case for Linda and I.

Dennis: It's a big deal in our relationship.  But, secondly, I like the conclusion you came to that "My wife, Linda, is a gift from God.  He, in His ingenuity, you say, created a woman that I didn't know and didn't realize how much I needed her." 

 But you embraced the gift God gave you, and you may or may not know this, Pat, but at our Weekend to Remember conferences, this is one of the core things that – the cornerstone issues that we teach at our conference – is really confronting couples with the reality that God is still in the process of making Adams and Eves for one another, and He designs our spouse for us.  And those strengths and weaknesses, the total package of who they are, is a part of what God is trying to bring to our lives to make us complete and total people.  I thought you illustrated it extremely well in your book.

Pat:  Well, thank you.  I've really come to see it that way and often, when you're in the middle of one of those discussions – I presume the Raineys never argue – but …

Dennis: That's a wrong presumption, Pat.

Pat: One of those heated exchanges, you don't feel very happy with that spouse at that time.  But, you know, as I've seen over and over again with my relationship with Linda, she's the balance, she's the break pad, she challenges me.  I would have fallen off the edge of the cliff so often in my life, I would not be to the position I'm in today if it wasn't for here there questioning, challenging, balancing.

 I've likened it to a rose where the next petal – and as you go through the years of marriage together, you take off the next one, and you see it becomes more beautiful as you open up the next petals.  Even though when you look at it at the beginning, you can't see a lot of those inner petals that are yet the most fabulous ones to come.

Bob: And if we called Linda right now and said, "Linda, do you know that you have first place in Pat's heart, in his life; that Intel comes behind you and the kids," she'd say, "I not only know it intellectually, but I feel it."

Pat: The answer would be yes, and she would continue to challenge me when she sees me falling off, actually living that way, because I do.  And I talk about my goals and priorities and mission in the book, but that's what I'm trying to become.

 And this whole idea of discipline and balance in life, it's not an end state, it's a continual process that we struggle through in an ongoing basis.

Dennis: And your answer, Pat, has a lot of integrity because we are in process.  It's not a place that you arrive, where you're there.  You're still facing it today as you guys move toward the empty nest and a new season in your marriage and in your relationship and, Bob, I think that's why couples today need to get materials and resources like Pat's book to take a look at and to interact around.

 And you may not want to come up with a chart like this.  This chart over here, I'm telling you, it's on page 90.

Bob: There's too much math in there for you, isn't there?

Dennis: Page 94 – in fact, Keith, let's put this on the Internet if Pat will give us permission.  I'd kind of like Barbara to see how poorly he did on some months.

Pat: Well, since I'm on my way for a two-and-a-half-week trip to India and abroad …

Dennis: You're about to lose a lot of points.

Pat: Yeah, this is not going to be a good period of time.

Bob: You know, you and I run into a lot of guys who are active in the workplace, they're busy there, and they're trying to establish a career, grow a career, and figure out, at the same time, how do they continue to make their marriage and their family the priority that they know it ought to be?  And I think to get some practical counsel from somebody who has been trying to navigate that same difficult assignment for a number of years would be helpful for any man who is in that situation.

 We've got copies of Pat's book, which is called "Balancing Your Family, Faith, and Work."  It's in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  You go to our website,, there's a red button in the middle of the screen that says "Go," and if you click that button, it will take you right to a portion of our website where you can get more information about how to get a copy of this book.

 There's also information about other resources available from us at FamilyLife including a helpful book that Andy Stanley wrote a few years ago.  He's the pastor at North Point Community Church in Atlanta.  He wrote a book called "Choosing to Cheat," and it's really based on the premise that all of us have to figure out what's going to get our time and what's not going to get our time and where we're going to choose to win and what's going to take second place and third place in that kind of a setting.

 We have a limited supply of Andy's books available in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well.  And any of our listeners who would like to get both Pat and Andy's book together, we can send along at no additional cost the CD that includes our conversation this week with Pat Gelsinger.

 Again, go to our website for more information.  That's, click the red "Go" button in the middle of the screen.  That will take you right to a portion of the site where you can get more information about these resources.  You can order them online, if you would like or if it's easier for you to call us do that.  Our toll-free number is 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  Someone on our team can let you know how you can get these resources sent out to you.

 We need to say thank you, Dennis, to the number of folks who are not only regular listeners to FamilyLife Today but there is a small number of folks in each community where FamilyLife Today is heard.  In fact, we'd love for it to be a larger number of folks, but there are some listeners who have stepped forward in the past and said, "We appreciate the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We'd like to help support it with a donation," and because we are a donor-supported radio program, we depend on those donations to be able to continue to air FamilyLife Today in this city and in cities all across the country.

 This month we are saying thank you to those folks who can make a donation of any amount to the ministry of FamilyLife Today by making available a CD that features two messages – one from pastor and author C.J. Mahaney, the other from his wife, Carolyn.  In these messages, C.J. talks to the husbands, Carolyn to the wives, about how we can express our love for one another more effectively.  "Romance Basics for Men and Women."  They are very helpful messages.  The CD is our thank you gift to you when you donate to FamilyLife during the month of February and, again, it's available for a donation of any amount.

 Simply go to the website and make a donation online.  If you do that, when you come to the keycode box on your donation form type in the word "Love," and we'll know that you'd like to have these CDs sent to you or call us at 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  You can make a donation over the phone and just mention that you'd like the thank you CD this month, and we'll be happy to send that out to you.  Again, we do appreciate your partnership with us and appreciate hearing from you.

 Well, tomorrow Pat Gelsinger is going to be back with us.  We're going to hear about the time that he went toe-to-toe with his boss about the vacation or the job assignment.  We'll see who won and what happened.  I hope you can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.


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