At the end of each chapter, we will focus on those who are starting a business or contemplating it. These sections will address issues entrepreneurs face – all from God’s point of view.
What do you have in common with Sam Walton, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates? Plenty, if you’re starting a new business. Your business may not grow to the size of a Walmart, Apple, or Microsoft, but every business is begun by an entrepreneur who has a vision. The French word entreprendre is the root word for entrepreneur, and it means “one who takes a risk.” Let’s face it; it takes courage to start a business from scratch. A friend is fond of saying, “I learned a lot by starting a business through trial and terror!”
Every new business starts small, many on a dining room table or in a garage. I've been involved in two business and two ministry startups, and it’s easy to become disheartened by all the challenges. Zechariah 4:10 has encouraged me repeatedly. It says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (NLT). Think about this for a moment: If you are a follower of Christ and He has led you to start a business, the Lord Himself is rejoicing to see it begin.
Business is intended to help us grow closer to the Lord, to make a profit, and to be a platform to influence others for Jesus Christ. Therefore, a big part of what God wants to accomplish when you start a business is to develop your character and dependence upon Him. Often, He achieves this by allowing us to face what seem like insurmountable challenges that feel as if they will never end.
One of the most amazing startups in history was the birth of the nation of Israel after the Lord orchestrated their release from 400 years of Egyptian slavery. They found themselves in the desert without food or water for 40 years! How’s that for a challenge that lasts a lifetime?
When God miraculously provided manna, the Israelites were to “gather enough for that day” (Exodus 16:4). He provided enough for only one day at a time and didn't allow keeping leftovers.
Deuteronomy 8:16-18 reveals how the Lord was using these circumstances to accomplish His purposes. It says, “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth.”
The Lord wanted the Israelites to learn to trust and depend on Him alone as He provided their daily food. Often something similar happens in a startup business. We don’t know how we’ll meet payroll at the end of the week. We can’t see how we will be able to survive when a competitor introduces a better product at a lower price. We are driven to trust and rely on Christ.
If we embrace the challenges of starting a business and seek to use them to grow closer to Christ, it can be one of the most exciting and spiritually productive times of our lives.