'I am Second' founder shares inspiring testimony: From alcohol to Jesus

Norm Miller, Interstate Batteries Chairman, co-founded I Am Second with E3 Ministries in 2008.
Norm Miller, Interstate Batteries Chairman, co-founded I Am Second with E3 Ministries in 2008. | I Am Second

When it comes to his personal and professional life, Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries, holds to a simple philosophy: Love God, love others, and treat them the way you’d want to be treated. 

Miller’s dedication to the Golden Rule is undoubtedly tied to the company's long-term success. Under his decadeslong leadership, Interstate Batteries has grown to become the No. 1 replacement battery in North America, with more than 200 retail battery centers, 300 distributors and 200,000 dealers across the U.S., Canada, and Central and South America.

“If you set your base on trying to love God and love others, and treat people the way you want to be treated, and meet their desires with a good attitude, you make them happy,” Miller says. “If you make them happy, they keep doing business with you, and they’ll tell others about you as well.”

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“Our attitude,” he added, “is to try to be helpful and at the same time fulfill a reasonable business.”

A devout Christian, Miller believes in doing business based on biblical principles — such as honesty, humility, service, and care. While employees are treated equally, Miller isn’t shy about sharing his faith. 

“We don't require people to be Christians, but we do tell them what we stand for and that loving God and loving others is the best way,” he explained. “And if they don't believe in that, just be sure they treat people the way they want to be treated and they understand that's the way we operate.”

The husband, father, and grandfather also encourages employees to develop as individuals, not just professionals. New employees are given a Bible, a copy of the "Jesus" film, and access to a chaplain and Bible studies. 

“And if they give those things back or don’t want them, it’s fine,” he said. “As long as they honor our ‘do unto others as we would have them do unto us,’ we can move right on down the road.”

While his name is now synonymous with excellence and honesty, Miller’s road to redemption wasn’t an easy one. Despite growing up in a church-going home, he fell into a life of partying as a teenager, a lifestyle he maintained well into adulthood. Soon, his alcohol consumption became excessive, resulting in three DWI arrests.

“I got to the age of 34, and I realized that what I thought was going to make me happy turned out to be just the opposite,” he recalled. 

Faced with the reality that he had become an alcoholic, Miller cried out, “God help me! I can’t handle it!” A short time later, a friend told Norm to read the Bible — and as he read, he became convicted of his sin. 

“I realized I was contrary to God's desires and a sinner,” he said. “I interpret a sinner as any thought or action contrary to the goodness of God. And I knew I was.”

Norm Miller
Norm Miller | Norm Miller

At that moment, Miller prayed to receive Christ and began to seek out discipleship. As his faith deepened, his idea of success changed, transforming how he approached business.

“I started thinking, this Christian walk is a 24/7, 365-day thing; it's not just Monday through Friday,” he said. “So I thought, how are we going to incorporate this into the business? But I was afraid that we could get sued, or the government would come and we’d lose our business.”

One day, while reading Scripture, Miller stumbled across Matthew 10:28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell.”

“I prayed to God and asked Him what He wanted us to do,” he shared. “We wanted to have a winsome heart.”

Part of fully surrendering to God, Miller explained, meant serving Him in whatever capacity possible. 

“When I first became a believer, I read where God said He desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth,” Miller said. “Well, I knew that and I did pray, ‘God, if you want me to stay here, I’ll stay here. If You want me to go somewhere else, I will. But please lead me in what you want me to do.’”

“At the time, He led me to stay in business,” he continued. “I never had any strong lead to go into any other business or ministry.”

Today, the company’s purpose, as stated boldly on its website, is simple: “To glorify God and enrich lives as we deliver the most trustworthy source of power to the world.”

Determined to help spread the Gospel around the world, the Beyond the Norm author is involved in a number of ministries, including Campus Crusade, Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and E3. Over the years, he’s used his business expertise to help expand and grow those ministries. 

“I appraise ministries on a reasonable basis [asking], how can we get better, faster, so we get more impact and better results, better training, and faster for less money,” he said. “And then we know we're being used by God to further the Kingdom as best as He will allow us.”

In 2008, Miller’s passion for sharing the Gospel led him to co-found “I Am Second" —the Texas-based ministry that has garnered recognition for its evangelistic video series — along with E3 Partners. An international ministry, E3 had been praying for something to open up domestically. After the E3 partners and Miller met, they decided on the “I Am Second” campaign.  

Originally, “I Am Second” began as an outreach organization for those individuals living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“We did billboards in Dallas and on the back of buses that just said ‘I Am Second,’” he recalled. “We didn't even let anybody know who it was.”

But after “I Am Second” began posting videos on the internet, the campaign “took off,” Miller said, adding: “Today, we’ve had visitors on the site from 220 countries and just millions of people around the world. And God just kept His word  He said, ‘lift me up. I'll draw all men to Myself.’ And that’s what ‘I Am Second’ is.”

Despite his professional and personal success — he and his wife, Anne, have been married for 56 years and have two children and five grandchildren — Miller is quick to credit God for his achievements, giving Him all the glory. 

“He's blessed us all these years,” Miller said. “We seek to acknowledge Him in all we do, but we also ask Him to help us love everybody.”

He added, “It’s a ‘goodness game,’ treating people the way you want to be treated, following through with your promises and being honorable.”

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