Entrepreneurs, small businesses, solo’s: Be careful in your thinking about entrepreneurship and faith.
We’re Such Christians
There’s potentially a danger in the idea that we’re all a bunch of Christians trying to do good and be Christ-like in the work place. Of course you can be Christians, and if so, of course you want your relationship with the Lord to permeate everything you do.
But we’re not God. I don’t know about you, but in myself I prove the doctrine of universal sin every day. I have no illusions about it. And I recognize the need for ongoing rehabilitation by the power of the Spirit in me.
But really, are we in a better place spiritually or morally than anyone else we meet? It might be that though I know I’m redeemed, I’m morally in worse shape than the average non-Christian I meet. In fact, I think I can articulate why that’s likely to be so, for myself and other Christians, but that’s another discussion for another day. The important thing is that we not assume someone who calls themselves a Christian is morally better than someone who doesn’t. Even if it’s true for Christians as a whole (and I am doubtful) it would be hit or miss whether it’s true in individual cases.
If you are shocked that professing Christians misbehave, you should live in my world for an hour. I have often joked that in my law practice, if a prospective client starts talking about what a Christian they are, I tell them to go elsewhere, I know I’m about to get burned. I call it a joke, but there’s truth to it. After these many years, I know that someone who talks like that in business contexts is most likely self-deluded about their moral worth; is self-righteous; and is expectant that I’m going to be lax about collecting my fee because they say they’re a Christian.
It’s a matter of sound theology, as far as I’m concerned. Our faith should cause us to be shrewd as serpents about the foibles of the human heart. We should be more, not less, conscious of the tendency to evil. We should never expect a higher moral bar for people who place themselves in the Christian camp.
It’s also important as an organization to avoid the same kind of odious self-deluded moral self-promotion. It comes across as moral preening, and it is. Let’s just do good, and leave the talking about what Christians we are to other people.
Most Christian entrepreneurs start out with do-gooder ideas associated with the enterprise, like funding Christian education and missionary work. Bravo. Now put it in its right place. I strongly recommend that at the outset, it be jettisoned altogether. I know how this sounds. Why do anything at all?
The answer is not that you should never form non-profits or educate or fund evangelizing efforts in the future. Nor that you avoid imagining a day when resources are spun off the profitable venture to fund what you really want to fund. But in my opinion it’s premature thinking for a start-up. We shouldn’t be diverted toward ways to share, before we have something to share.
I counsel that you focus on big fat dollar bills first, so that you can be positioned to do the things God places on your heart. There’s nothing wrong with money. It’s a medium of exchange, it has no intrinsic worth. You’re asking God to open doors to making the product or service available to others, for which you receive money. In doing so, you’re also asking God for the burden and opportunity of husbanding money well, for use for the Kingdom. Step one has to come before step two. Don’t let the vision of how to share blessings cloud your judgment. You can’t share blessings you don’t yet have.
Don’t let the desire to share future blessings obscure the path God has given you to secure those blessings in the first place.
Now go get ’em.