The calling to be a Christian entrepreneur is a unique one. It begs the question why has Christian entrepreneurship been overlooked by many in the church for too long? Yet the calling to be a Christian entrepreneur is no different to any other life calling. In fact, there are so many compelling reasons why it should be talked about and encouraged by more biblical teaching.
I want to do just that.
Because the demands placed on a Christian small business owner can be significant.
That’s why we need to support our Christian entrepreneurs. Theirs is a calling to create wealth and opportunity not just for themselves but for others too.
Entrepreneurs are ordinary people like everybody else but also extraordinary because they put their money and dreams on the line. They take a risk when there’s no guarantee of a reward.
Christian entrepreneurs follow their calling ‘in faith’.
Christian entrepreneurs work to gain a prize that is unseen and their journey is often as perilous as a far-off mission to an unknown continent.
I’ve been privileged to have worked with hundreds of business owners on a business growth programme, helping them reach their goals. I’ve seen how they have had to take difficult and often emotionally fraught decisions for the sake of the business.
A few have been Christian and I’ve learnt a lot about how these business owners really put their faith into action, every day.
In fact, Christians in business make a massive difference to the workplace as well. They are also in a position to disrupt the market, provide us with better options for what we consume. Christian entrepreneurs also put a biblical ethic at the heart of everything they do.
Isn’t it time we acknowledge the important role Christian entrepreneurs play in the world?
The strange thing is being an entrepreneur is seldom spoken of as a Christian calling.
I’m going to make the case for why other Christians and our churches should proactively support and encourage the role Christian entrepreneurs play in the world.
Because theirs is a biblical calling.
The calling to be a Christian entrepreneur is not just about making money.
Making money is not the primary reason for going into business. Of course, generating revenue and a profit is an expected result (not unlike my receiving a salary every month for doing my work).
It never ceases to amaze me because I’ve yet to meet an entrepreneur who does what they do for the sole purpose of getting wealthy. Though ironically I’ve met an awful lot of people in salaried jobs who hate what they do but only do it for the money!
The entrepreneurs who are singularly money focused soon burnout and the business fails.
The reason is passion. Entrepreneurs start businesses because they can see that something could be done better or differently. They have something new and improved they can share with the world. It could be an invention or an amazing new service to make our lives easier or better. It’s why they get out of bed (often very early) and go to bed, (often very late).
Yes, there may be financial rewards for doing it (which are never guaranteed) and many business owners put aside short-term reward for a long-term return. But it’s always the passion for what they’re doing that keeps them motivated when the odds are stacked against them of succeeding.
Can Christians compete?
One of the objections you could make about Christians going into business is the competitive (and sometimes ruthless nature) of it. The reality of competition though is more nuanced.
I know many entrepreneurs who remain friends with their competitors and in fact, they often learn from each other. After all ‘iron sharpens iron’, right? (Proverbs 27:17).
Surviving the competition is one thing but it’s more than possible to thrive in it too, not to necessarily outdo others, but to work out your own positioning and offer for your own customer base (and retain them too).
There’s space for everyone, especially if you’re small because you can nip at the heels of the Goliaths in your sector who may not be serving their customers as well as they could be.
But the clincher is this; commercial competition is never forbidden in the bible.
But it most certainly is among church leadership! I wish more pastors remembered that. What is forbidden for Christian entrepreneurs are unethical and exploitative practices. But that is hardly controversial.
Is the calling to be a Christian entrepreneur supporting a bad system?
Capitalism is evil, right? It exploits people, drives down living standards, provides an illusion of choice and promotes the idolatry of materialism.
This is a simplistic view of how business operates in the world, but could this be true for some companies?
Of course, it is.
But is this true of all companies?
No, not at all. In fact, by focusing on the bad we neglect some pretty important truths. According to a recent UK government report, 99% of businesses in the UK are defined as small, employing 0-249 people. Of those small businesses, 96% are micro, employing 0-9 people. Nationally micro-business account for 32% of employment.
For many, business is small and personal, not big, bad and anonymous. And yes some business owners are Christians who serve and lead their employees doing good things along the way.
There’s more than one way to follow your calling as a Christian entrepreneur.
There’s some who are of the opinion that business is always ‘business as usual’, that very little changes in society even if some people are able to work for themselves.
The ‘system’ just perpetuates itself. To accept this would mean rejecting a whole lot of innovation going on in how business is done and run.
For example, social enterprises are becoming a more established way of running a business. They trade to tackle social problems but profits are invested back into the business or local community.
Many social enterprises make a point of employing people from disadvantaged backgrounds to give them a chance, learn skills and gain an employment history. This is particularly important as the Bible places a high value on work and contributing to society.
Every human is gifted with skills and abilities to help others. Social enterprises can enable that even more and Christians are right amongst it running many of these organisations.
The calling to be Christian entrepreneur is kingdom building.
Put simply the kingdom of God is where God rules. It could be anywhere and any place. This certainly includes commercial life.
Because the marketplace determines so much of our work and leisure, having active Christian entrepreneurs serving God is a necessity.
Becoming a Christian entrepreneur is a kingdom-building calling because people’s worth, God-given gifts, relationships (personal and trading) can link people together for a common good.
Sadly our economic relationships are open to misuse. The call as Christians is to lead by example and to demonstrate a better way of doing business. The need is great at this time.
Churches need to openly minister to those who have this unique vocation. They need our prayers and support because it is a tough and lonely place to be for much of the time.
Lessons to learn from Christian entrepreneurs.
Our Christian community can learn a lot from how Christian entrepreneurs and business owners manage their time and resources as well as employees.
The hard-earned practical wisdom of a Christian entrepreneur who has experienced many of the difficulties of growing a business can provide invaluable life lessons.
And we can certainly learn from their faith, their vision to act on something unseen from little more than an innovation or a dream.
Theirs is as much of biblical calling as any.
So may we support the many ‘riches’ Christian entrepreneurs bring to society as they continue to grow as individuals, organisations and mission to change the marketplace in the world while giving all the glory to God.