Questioning Entrepreneurship (a Christian's perspective)
Becoming your own boss can be exciting and thrilling. It means working for yourself, determining how you spend your time and who you spend it around, but what if it’s not for you? In the world of social media, I’ve noticed a huge push within the black community for us to become entrepreneurs and to no longer work for someone else. It’s tempting. You get an idea for a product or service, you figure out how to monetize it and you make the jump from employee to employer. The problem is: it’s not that simple and it may not be for you.
Several months ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with a woman who had created a hair product. It was something she created by hand and sold at a trade show, but less than a year into it, she admitted, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t like it.” After further investigation, I found out that her sole motivation for creating this product was to become wealthy. “I want to become a millionaire someday,” she said. She explained how when she first started making her product, it was fun and she’d made money through sales online, but the customers were no longer frequent. She didn’t care about the product, the people it helped and she hated the handmaking process. She only cared about the money and in an effort to become #blackexcellence, she became #dissatisfied.
I’ve noticed this “get rich quick” trend a lot and it’s often supported by Christians saying, “your gift will make room for you,” and “there’s nothing wrong with wanting wealth – Abraham and Job had money.” The thing is: there’s nothing wrong with wealth itself, but there is something wrong when it is our sole motivation. (1 Timothy 6:10)
WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVATION?
Matthew 6 says clearly that we cannot serve both God and money. Directly after that, it continues to remind us not to worry because God will supply all of our needs. If you want to open a business, ask yourself why. Chances are if you lack passion for that business, it won’t last long. If your sole motivation is to get money & possessions, you are likely to become frustrated, fed up and spiritually exhausted. Building a business takes long hours and constant planning. Your motivation could be the difference between remaining consistent, faithful and patient and giving up before it ever fully gets off the ground.
And that brings me to my next question:
WHO (or what) ARE YOU BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS FOR?
This question is not to be confused with “who will your business serve?” In Matthew 6:16-21, Jesus is teaching the crowds what not to seek attention for. When talking about prayer, fasting and giving to the needy, He tells them not to make those actions obvious before men. He wants them to understand that although these things are vital to the kingdom of God, they shouldn’t be performed for attention or praise from people.
As Christians, we should understand that our reward comes from God and that we should perform for an audience of one. With that in mind, I ask “who are you building a business for?” If it’s to prove something to someone who doubted you or to stunt online, then I’m afraid your compass is off and your priorities are out of order.
Even if the reasoning is to create generational wealth for family, I challenge that concept. Attaining an inheritance to pass down to my children (Proverbs 13:22) doesn’t mean that I should idolize that inheritance and lose sight of God’s promises. For me to do something solely to create generational wealth means that 1) I doubt that God will supply the needs of my family, 2) I’m storing my treasures on earth and not in heaven, and 3) I’ve made my life about attaining the inheritance and not about pleasing God. The last thing we want is to become sinners whose wealth is stored for the righteous.
Let’s look at Jesus for a second. He could have come to earth as a very wealthy man and declared that all Christians would be wealthy for the rest of their earthly lives. Now, that’s generational wealth! But, that’s not what He did because He knows that earthly wealth could never outweigh the treasures that we should store for ourselves in heaven and that our Father provides our needs (Phil. 4:19). Am I telling you to be broke or never leave the hood? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that we should always “seek first the kingdom of God,” including when it comes to our careers. If we do this, scripture has said that it works in our favor.
In Matthew 6, Jesus says, “So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
And again, in Hebrews 13, it says, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’”
WHOSE PLAN ARE YOU LIVING BY?
The Lord’s will may actually be for you to stay right where you are at your 9-to-5 job. I know, it hurts, but being a Christian doesn’t mean doing what we want whenever we want to. Being a Christian requires us to submit our will and our plans to the will of God. It means allowing Him to redirect us and place us where He chooses, while believing that He will take care of us.
For some of you, God may be saying it’s time to take the jump and start that business you’ve been thinking about for years because He planted that seed in you. For others, He could be waiting to open a door for you after you stop trying to open it yourself. And for some, God may be telling you to stay put. He may be keeping you on your job as a way to show others His light through you, as a way to humble you, as a way to build up patience and endurance within you or a million other reasons. He’s God. We don’t get to tell Him what His will for our lives should be, but it only benefits us to seek Him, listen and submit.
ARE YOU USING YOUR GIFTS?
As I mentioned before, Christians love using the phrase, “your gift will make room for you,” which is found in Proverbs 18:16. The question is are you aware of your gifts and are you using them? Your plan may be to open a business, but it has nothing to do with what God has already placed in you. Are you neglecting your gifts to drive in someone else’s lane?
Let’s take Moses for example. God gifted him with everything he needed to lead God’s people, but Moses only focused on what abilities he didn’t have and quite frankly, he didn’t want to do it. He literally tried to give his call over to his brother! What are you giving to someone else that should be yours? And, what are you trying to take that was never meant for you? Often when God has called us to do something, we don’t want to do it. We neglect it because it’s not glamorous enough or because it looks like a burden. Or maybe you’ve written off your gifts because you don’t think they’re valuable.
I can only imagine how the shepherd boy felt. He spent years leading sheep, wrestling animals with his bare hands and practicing his precision. His family and the king doubted him because they did not see the value in what and Who he had, but when the time came for him to rescue the Israelites, he arose to the challenge. When he was fitted with armor that wasn’t his size, he rejected it. Instead, choosing to trust his God and the talents given to him. Not only did he defeat a giant named Goliath, but David became one of the greatest kings named in the Bible and was described as a man after God’s own heart. (1 Sam. 17)
I challenge you to begin to pray and ask God what He desires. Stop using prayer only to tell Him what you want and begin to ask Him what He wants. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal His perfect plan for you to you. Stop allowing society and social media to pressure you into their definition of success. They are not your God. Christ is.
Note: This blog was originally published in 2018.