R. G. LeTourneau’s name is often associated with generous giving, since he and his wife, Evelyn, practiced “reverse tithing” by giving away 90 percent and keeping 10 percent of their profits. Yet few realize LeTourneau’s philosophy of giving was spawned by how he connected his faith with his work. LeTourneau was a pioneer and a leading spokesperson in the faith-and-work movement in the mid-twentieth century.
In his autobiography Mover of Men and Mountains he wrote that according to his mother, he was restless, inquisitive, energetic, and ambitious. To his brothers, he was “fanatically determined to amount to nothing.” LeTourneau himself wrote, “My father's opinion of me during my first 14 years was usually expressed in a wide selection of Bible verses aimed at describing the fate of rebellious boys like me.”
In eighth grade, LeTourneau left school and took his first full-time job at Portland Ironworks, hauling sand for molds. From humble beginnings and a with a grade school education, LeTourneau created a manufacturing empire designing and building enormous earthmoving machines that helped laid the infrastructure of modern America.
By age 30, LeTourneau was a husband and a father. He was also unemployed and in debt. He fixed a farmer’s tractor, and then, to prove it was fixed, he leveled the farmer’s field. This experience became the launch pad for building a business doing what he loved: building machines to move dirt.
"There is no such thing as a big job, only, small machines."
His achievements included many basic to modern construction, including the bulldozer and huge earth transport equipment. LeTourneau already had developed an impressive array of haulers, scrapers, and dumpers unlike anything available elsewhere. He was convinced that his equipment could do more, faster, and for less money than any alternative available to contractors anywhere.
In 1919, LeTourneau declared his partnership with God. The result: scores of inventions, 300 patents, thousands of highway miles, plus millions of dollars given to spiritual enterprises, and a world-renowned Christian university.