What a question! While it’s a daunting question, it ought to be something all business owners who are believers ought to be asking themselves. Unfortunately, whether you work for a business as an employee or own a business, the church rarely talks about business matters. And, when they do, it’s often in a negative way.
If you read your Bible (also a great habit for a believer to have) you may be surprised how many times God talks about what he wants from your business. If you attend church, you may get the impression that God wants you to give to the poor and give up all your material possessions and become a missionary. While those callings are certainly noble, you can understand how unsustainable such actions would be if no one earned the money to give to the poor; or fund missions. Right?
In this blog post, I want to cover four key areas that most men and women of faith tend to struggle with when it comes to their business.
Purpose & Meaning
Usually, when I start coaching someone, they are trying to start, grow or sell their business. When you struggle in a business, it’s common for you to question whether that business is something God wants you to pursue. You pray about it. Still no booming voice comes from the heavens telling you what to do.
God has given you specific gifts. Those gifts and talents are not to be wasted. You may be a gifted carpenter, or financier, or accountant, or teacher. These individual gifts can be used in a variety of ways. The carpenter can build amazing cabinets for kitchens; or he can teach other apprentice carpenters the trade, or he can come up with an ingenious way to mass-produce cabinets to lower the price for kitchen cabinets to homeowners. In each case, God has blessed this same carpenter with additional gifts that he expects that carpenter to use.
Your purpose is found in your natural talents. This doesn’t mean that you won’t need to develop those talents with acquiring more knowledge.
Knowledge & Wisdom
If you’re naturally talented, you may ask, “Why should I be open to learning anything more?” Even Tiger Woods, a super-talented PGA golf professional employs swing coaches, putting coaches, and uses a caddie when playing competitively. If you’re truly interested in being a pro, you must seek out the help of others. Ironically, all of Tiger’s coaches are less talented than him… but he recognizes the benefit of an expert who can teach him how to make the most of his God-Given talent.
Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” God wants you to seek out help.
He also wants you to seek out knowledge. Proverbs 3:13-14 says, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold.”
God uses the words “finds” and “gains” when talking about wisdom. In other passages He uses the word “seeks”. These words imply that someone outside of you will teach you and advise you. If you stay in your own thoughts, you cannot “gain” or “find” wisdom.
Behavior & Integrity
This may ease your mind, if you’re concerned you’re going in the wrong direction… God doesn’t care WHAT you do; but he genuinely cares HOW you do it.
The best way for me to illustrate this point is the notion of living by the flesh or living by the spirit. We’re all human and we have human desires. As defined in the Bible, some of these desires are helpful and others are sinful.
Inherently, our conscience or the Spirit tells us what is right; and convicts us of what is wrong. The challenge is that our human nature will want to ignore this conscience to fill a human desire. These struggles between conscience and desire often result in anxiety.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” But like I said before, we submit our requests to God, but hear nothing back but silence… or do we? My sense is that God doesn’t like repeating himself. Yes, I know He is omnipotent and omnipresent, but why should God tell you what he has already told you? That’s why believers call the Bible the Word of God. These words apply to your business and your situations today just like they applied to others in Biblical history.
When I coach believers, it is common that they believe they must “give-in” to their employees or their customers. They believe this “giving in” is loving and kind. The reality is that God respects and desires “justice” not cowering in the face of injustice. If you’re struggling with a critical decision in your business, I encourage you to read God’s Word. You may be surprised how he has already spoke several times about the very issue you’re facing.
Growth & Profit
There is no place of higher conflict that there is with money and believing business owners. Business owners are the natural minority in society comprising 10% of our population. Sadly, only 10% of this minority succeed in operating their business over 5-years. This minority has resulted in a common-held belief in the majority that making a profit is ungodly. This attitude has permeated our political discourse and it has certainly permeated most religious institutions.
According to God’s Word, nothing could be further from the truth. Proverbs 10:4 says, “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” God is not advocating sloth, but diligent work to gain wealth. There are countless stories in the Bible where God had blessed land owners with abundant livestock, servants and family.
You are all probably familiar with the Parable of the Talents (Gold & Minas) (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27). Three servants are given three different levels of investment. The two that are praised invest and put their money to work, while the third does nothing with their investment. The third is roundly criticized and called wicked.
God expects you to multiple what he has given you. At the end of the Parable of the Talents, Jesus says, “…whoever has will be given more, they will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” This sounds harsh to most of us. However, God has given you talents, skills, and money to invest and grow. If you’re sitting on your wealth and not investing it… whether that wealth is money or skill, you are probably in conflict with what God wants for your life.
We’ve covered profit and growth. Now, we need to establish the boundaries God has established for wealth. Proverbs 22:16 says, “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” You can’t cheat someone to gain personal wealth. Your business must enrich the people it serves. To me, this has always been the brilliance of the “free market”. People buy a product or service that makes their life better while also improving the finances of the group of people that made the product or provided the service. If your product or service is not improving the lives of your customers, you’re in conflict with the way God wants you to profit.
While earning a profit is necessary to invest in the growth of your business, you are warned multiple times by God about focusing purely on money. Proverbs 11:24 says, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”
It’s also important to understand that wealth is a fleeting quality. While wealth can serve many Godly purposes, God reminds us that it is a temporary state of being and is not the ultimate prize of any believer. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
There are hundreds of Bible verses on business, money, fair dealings, employment, charity and trusting God and not yourself. Next time you face a challenge in your business, I urge you to do a search on Bible verses that apply to your situation. You will find that God’s statement in Isaiah 55:8 is true…. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” If you simply do business on your own, and lean on your own understanding, you may find yourself lost and confused.
As a business coach and 30-year business veteran, I help my business owner clients change their mindset in a way that allows them the freedom and profitability they’ve always hoped for, but never thought possible. If you’d like to develop a successful business mindset, I offer online training along with individual and group coaching sessions.