The Future Favors The Bold
MARCH 2019 COVER
Pastor Sergio De La Mora
This month Life By Design is excited to honor an exemplary model of faith in our city, not only for his beliefs but also for his prowess in business. Sergio De La Mora is well known as the lead pastor of Cornerstone Church of San Diego, the largest Latino led church in the history of San Diego, but what is less known is the journey through entrepreneurship he has been on since he was a teenager. For the last twenty-one years, Sergio and his wife, Georgina, have built, branded, marketed, and sold the vision and mission of turning the hearts of youth and families throughout San Diego. Though their story is one of success and significance, it’s even more admirable when you know all they’ve had to overcome.
From a young age Sergio understood the power of an entrepreneurial spirit. Driven by the pursuit of the American Dream, his father left a life in Mexico behind to pursue more for his family. Despite a limited educational background, his father modeled to his six children how to successfully build and manage his own landscape design company in the affluent community of Santa Barbara. All of the De La Mora children worked for the family business, but Sergio began to dream of bigger aspirations. While his father established the keys to success through a foundation of impeccable work ethic and vision, Sergio needed to conjoin his net worth and his self-worth.
Growing up in a neighborhood where the expectation to join a gang was the norm, Sergio battled for identity. His first love was skateboarding and that made him a target for violence, peer pressure, and bullying. His ethnicity wanted to pave a path for him in a gang alongside his brothers and cousins, but his giftings were leading him elsewhere. By age twelve, Sergio was sponsored by two skateboard companies, yet he was unable to enjoy his newfound success. As the only Latino in the skate park, Sergio began to live a double life – gang member during the day and semi-professional skateboarder at night. He would dress and act as part of the gang amongst his peers at school, then change his clothes and sneak away to skate after school. Eventually the battle within him lost to the war around him and Sergio joined a gang. Soon after, he was stabbed in the back just inches from becoming paralyzed and everything changed. His parents forced him to stay home on Friday nights and a new love and a new business was born.
Sergio got hooked on a college radio station every Friday night, and soon the influence and impact of the local DJ began to lead him toward a destiny moment. Sergio had spent so many Friday nights visualizing himself as a DJ that when he heard they were looking for people to train, he knew the future was calling him. Because he had become so familiar with the vision of seeing himself as a DJ, it was easy to take the next step toward success. Sergio became the youngest person to get their Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license at fifteen years old. That destiny moment led to an incredibly lucrative career as the largest DJ company in Santa Barbara’s history. He was making more money than a teenager should be making at that age and enjoying an aptitude of success that many only dream of. And while he was successful and happy on the outside, he wasn’t either on the inside. He was locked in a life he didn’t ultimately want. At seventeen, Sergio had built a name for himself, played at all the big dances in the city, worked at the largest hip hop radio station in Santa Barbara County, and yet struggled silently with an addiction. It was then that God intervened, and he clearly heard God's voice for the very first time. In a dream, he was shown a dirt road with a fork that led toward two paths. A sign showed two directions: “worldly success” and “ministry”. In that dream, God clearly told Sergio that if he signed a seven-year record contract as a disc jockey, he would have success, but he would ultimately miss his life's purpose.
That dream started Sergio on a different plan than he had envisioned for himself. It brought him to the altar of a church where he gave his life to Jesus Christ. Over the months that ensued, Sergio quit his job, sold his first company, and burned the bridges that held him to that world.
Having a background in the family business of landscaping, his father offered him a portion of his inheritance. Armed with one lawnmower, one weed whacker, one truck, and just a few accounts, Sergio began to build his second business. Eventually joining forces with his two brothers, he began taking over the Santa Barbara landscaping business. Even though he started with only a portion of the company that was separate from his brothers, Sergio noticed they were all starting to bid against each other. Instead of fighting for accounts, Sergio offered to buy out his brothers, and start working together. This principle of leading toward collaboration was the secret sauce of their family business.
Helped by Sergio’s expertise, the family business thrived, and he reaped the benefits of his labor. He was 28 years old and with thirty employees, two homes, it was clear that the young millionaire had found a secure footing in Santa Barbara. That’s when God called him to relocate to San Diego to plant a church. It was a defining moment for Sergio, and one he didn’t take lightly. He openly confesses he would not die a happy man if he didn’t obey God and his pastors to plant this church. The entrepreneur in Sergio had just met the pioneer in Sergio. The decision was made and Cornerstone Church of San Diego began in 1998. Since then, it’s become one of the fastest growing churches in America and won several awards of recognition throughout San Diego, including first place in Commercial Interior Design.
Although Sergio has built and sold three businesses while raising six daughters, he says the hardest thing he has ever done was build a church. He says, “As an entrepreneur, you have a product or service to sell, but as a church, you are selling the idea of a changed life.” Through each stage in his life, Sergio has continued to remain a learner and a giver. He tells aspiring entrepreneurs the same piece of advice he was given years ago, “If you want to make a change in the world, you need a big heart, and a big wallet.” In our recent interview with him, this one golden nugget of wisdom stuck out the most:
“If you are struggling to charge for your business, you don’t believe in your cause enough. If you are getting burnt out and you're having trouble continuing, you don’t have enough faith in the success of your future. Don’t look at what you are doing now, but instead look at the change you can make once you have leveled up.”
After years of success in both world business and kingdom business, Sergio feels he has finally made the leap from “success to significance”, a leap that was only made possible by doing what he says was the most difficult thing for him to do in his life, “following God into the unknown.” It was a difficulty that has led him to come up with a new definition of success for his life and family. And that definition is inspiring thousands to do the same.
If you want to learn more about Pastor Sergio De La Mora, and Cornerstone Church of San Diego: visit TurningTheHearts.com
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Facebook: Cornerstone Church of San Diego
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Pastor Sergio De La Mora
Sergio is the visionary founder and lead pastor of Cornerstone Church of San Diego, ranked one of the fastest growing churches in America by Outreach Magazine. Called the "Turn Around Specialist," he has influenced a multi-generational and multi-ethnic community in both English and Spanish for over 20 years. His passion and vision to plant churches with the purpose of reaching new territory for Christ, led him to launch satellite campuses in Downtown San Diego, Pacific Beach, Tijuana and Tijuana Prison.
Sergio also created The Heart Revolution Conference, which gathers well-known thought leaders from all over the nation to revolutionize the hearts of the next generation. This international conference has grown annually to become one of the most highly anticipated leadership gatherings in America.
WRITTEN BY: KRISTEN CROOKS
Kristen Crooks is a personal assistant, ghostwriter, event planner, and speaker. She works closely with all their clients to truly understand their passions, tone, and ideas so their vision can unfold in front of their eyes. In a world that is increasing more digital Kristen hopes to bring her personal touch to each article, and event that she works on. While working with Stegela Success Mastery Kristen found her passion in writing and planning events for those around her. Starting out in Cosmetology and Barbering Kristen has always enjoyed the freedom that entrepreneurship allows but was not living her passion! Now Kristen focuses on helping others through amazing events, and making sure their stories are told, and heard! While events and ghostwriting are part of her passion, the true joy comes form helping people achieve their goals, and ultimately see others dreams unfold before their eyes.