At a young age, Ken Mansfield attained great success in the music industry. Having left behind his upbringing in northern Idaho, he came to California seeking riches, sex, drugs, and rock and roll—and he found it. He was always in right place at the right time, receiving opportunity after opportunity. At one time, no one had a better résumé in the music business than Ken. He was an executive at Capitol Records and National Promotions Manager, worked closely with the Beatles, set up Apple Records in London, worked for MGM, was made President of a CBS label, and finally set up his own corporation. He was on top of the world, producing some of the biggest acts of the day: Andy Williams, Don Ho, David Cassidy, etc.
The devil had Ken believing that he alone was the reason for all of his success and that it had nothing to do with the God who had given him talents and a knack for making it in a tough business. He was so full of himself that there was no room for God. Everything in his life was about Ken and what he wanted. Ken thought he was invincible…until he wasn’t.
Now having invested in his own corporation, the big projects stopped coming his way. The company took in less and less until it finally went under, taking Ken with it. Having the incredible résumé he did, Ken was certain that he could easily find a job again with a big corporation, but he could not find any work in LA. So he went back to Nashville, thinking he could pick up where he left off there, but he found he couldn’t even get an entry level job with companies he used to run. He couldn’t understand why, but it seemed all doors were closed. So at almost 50 years old, Ken took a job as a non-union stage hand at the Starwood Amphitheatre. He worked with the 20-year-olds in the bowels of trucks, building sets, hauling equipment, and setting up lighting and sound for long hours in terrible weather.
As Ken put it, the pride that had swelled in him through all his success had been “a stench in nostrils of heaven.” But in this newfound place of loss and lowly grunt work, God began to whittle away at the pride Ken had built up for himself. In the course of his work, Ken once again found himself face-to-face with famous artists. Only this time, instead of signing James Taylor with Apple Records or being involved in the production of his latest hit, he got to ask where Mr. Taylor would like his amps placed during the show.
Then came the night of Whitney Houston, a superstar at the top of her game. During the first song, she was displeased with the placement of her vocal monitors, so she signaled for a stage hand to help. Ken was mortified to be on stage in this capacity, but he had to go. And even worse, he found himself on his knees, sweaty and exhausted, before the whole front row of record company executives and producers—the people he used to be—all looking at him as if to say, “Wow, so that’s what happened to Ken Mansfield.” In this single most humiliating moment of his life, Ken finally got it. He finally understood what God wanted. God loved Ken so much and knew him so well that He knew Ken had to go broke to become broken. On his knees, he turned to the Lord and accepted Christ as his Savior.
God is the single greatest Economist of all time. He’ll use our ugly sinful past for His glory and when we accept Jesus, He turns to good that which Satan meant for evil.
God is the single greatest Economist of all time. He’ll use our ugly sinful past for His glory and when we accept Jesus, He turns to good that which Satan meant for evil. How does God do it? He weaves an intricate tapestry, including people all over His domain.
Recently when Ken was speaking at a large church, the time came for questions from the crowd and a woman in the back raised her hand. She explained that as a young girl she went to a great youth retreat in which her youth pastor asked for a commitment from them to pray for some successful people – the Beatles and those who worked with them – and to pray until they were assured of the people’s salvation. The name she drew from the hat was Ken Mansfield. She had prayed for Ken all throughout junior high, high school, college, and into the workplace. Then as her life began to get busier and more successful, she began to turn away from God. Later, her own success began to falter and everything fell apart. For the last year, she had been utterly miserable until God began to softly remind her of the joyful, peace-filled days she had spent as His child. That very morning, she had opened the newspaper and saw that a man named Ken Mansfield was coming to give his testimony. So she came to the church – to let everyone know that God answers prayer and to proclaim her return to faith.
Ken asked us to consider the possibility of the tapestry God weaves. Maybe the whole reason for Ken’s success was so that Ken could come to the attention of the Beatles, rise to fame, have a fall, be brought to the Lord, write books, come to the attention of your pastor, and be invited to stand before you and tell his story so that he could reach just one person. Maybe it’s you.
Ken ended his message by recounting that he’s “been there and done that,” and there’s nothing out there in the world of value without the Lord.
The limos couldn’t have been longer,
The hotel suites couldn’t have been larger
The restaurants couldn’t have been finer,
The people he was with couldn’t have been more famous,
The places they went couldn’t have been more exotic,
but when he looks back to those times, he sees a deluded, pitiful, pathetic young man knocking himself out, trying to fill a haunting emptiness with stuff. He was in the pig sties eating with the pigs, having squandered away the inheritance and gifts given to him by a loving Heavenly Father. Then he realized that the lowliest servant in the house of the Father had it much better than he did, so he asked for a fresh start – and God was there. God embraced him and put a robe around him, a ring on his finger, and love in his heart.
Ken says no man has ever stood taller than he stood when he realized he had lost the world but gained Christ for eternity. So how do you want to spend your eternity? No matter how far away you are or how long you’ve been there, God is still waiting for you to come home.