Banker’s Change of Focus in Life Leads to Published Novel
By Gary Kauffman
Dagan Sharpe’s first novel is a work of fiction, but it deals with issues that are all too real for many business people. Sharpe knows – he’s dealt with them himself.
The novel, Highways End, was published in September by Bended Bow. It took 15 years for Sharpe, director of wealth services & region manager for Queensborough National Bank & Trust, to finish his novel. It’s not that he’s a slow writer; he just needed to get his life and priorities in order first.
Writing has always been Sharpe’s passion. He majored in journalism at the University of Georgia and planned to write TV and movie scripts. But he realized the “starving artist” life wasn’t what he wanted, so he entered the corporate world of banking. He started Highways End when he was engaged to his wife, as a celebration of their love. But then life got in the way.
While Sharpe billed Highways End as a love story, the characters deal with the pursuit of money, success and fulfillment in relationships that ultimately leave them feeling empty. That’s where the fiction intersects with Sharpe’s own experiences.
“I was a workaholic, chasing money, caught up in the corporate rat race,” Sharpe said.
And he was successful, holding positions of power and influence at a young age and making more money than he’d imagined. But he was less successful behind the scenes.
“My marriage was malnourished, I’d play with my children but my mind was on work, I was 50 pounds heavier and under stress,” he said. “I thought I was having a heart attack and realized I was about to lose everything I held dear. That’s when I fell on my knees and surrendered everything to God.”
That started a series of job adventures that actually saw him climbing higher on the ladder of success. He’d lose a position only to find himself in a better one with more money. Then one day he turned down a job offer, expecting to find an even better one. But that didn’t happen.
Sharpe found himself on a seven-month “vacation” while seeking a job. That, however, allowed him to take a two-week mission trip, something he would have never taken time for in the corporate world.
When he returned from the mission trip, he found he had two job offers – one for a lot of money that would require his family to uproot from their Augusta home, and another with Queensborough for less money than he’d made in a decade. Although he felt uncomfortable about moving, the choice seemed like an easy one until one night he overheard his daughter praying. In her prayer, she asked God for a job for her dad that would allow them to stay in Augusta.
The next day Sharpe turned down the high-paying opportunity and took the position with Queensborough.
“It was a big test of, ‘What am I chasing, money or ministry,’” Sharpe said. “Before I was always chasing money. Finally the lie of self-worth being tied to net worth was broken. The test of money turned into my testimony.”
As God had been changing his focus in life, Sharpe had also been changing the focus of his book. He scrapped some of his earlier writings and ideas, allowing the book to evolve into its finished form.
“It has a definite Christian message,” Sharpe said. “It’s inspired by the book of Ecclesiastes and my own vain struggles.”
He titled the book Highways End because all highways eventually come to an end – just like hopes and dreams.
“All dreams and priorities come to an end and there’s a void,” Sharpe said. “People are trying to fill that void, but they can’t fill it with money, relationships or anything else other than Jesus Christ.”
Highways End is Sharpe’s first novel but not his first book. He also authored two children’s books, The Dinosaur Did It and Strong in the Kingdom Scrolls. He also writes a weekly blog, Career Call, to inspire and encourage people in the business world.
Sharpe received positive responses to Highways End from family and friends, including his military father, who admitted parts of it made him cry. He’d also prayed for responses from those who don’t know him and recently he received an unsolicited positive book review from someone in England.
Sharpe hopes the book will be an inspiration and even a wake-up call to others in the corporate world.
“I’m not the only person in the corporate world who has been preoccupied with business,” he said. “My prayer is that God uses the book to speak to others like me.”
Highways End is available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and is also available for Kindle.