What is a Christian Entrepreneur?

by Brad Harmon on June 23, 2010 in Entrepreneurs

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It just occurred to me on this, my 100th post, that I don’t think I’ve ever really answered the question, “What is a Christian Entrepreneur?” That seems pretty silly of me since it is the name of the blog.  It’s a simple enough question that would seem self explanatory at first glance, but the more you really stop to think about it the deeper and more complex the answer becomes.

Obviously, one would need to be both a Christian and an entrepreneur; however, those two qualifications alone seem somehow inadequate.  Perhaps it’s because the term Christian often seems not to reflect the nature of Christ at all in how we live our lives.

Just the very words together, Christian Entrepreneur, suggest a much higher and nobler purpose than simply a Christian who is trying to make a living by operating a business.  So high, in fact, that it’s hard to imagine someone following Christ (who had no possessions of His own) and also seeking to build wealth.

Putting First Things First

Sometimes I wonder if the word entrepreneur adequately describes the person who follows this higher purpose.  Inevitably, I think we end up with the same bottom-line concerns, processes, & procedures; however, how we get there has two very different origins.

An entrepreneur’s primary concern is the generation and accumulation of wealth.  That is the end goal – the primary focus.  Everything about the business from the customer to the back office procedures should support and conform to this goal.

A Christian Entrepreneur’s primary concern is bringing glory to God and being faithful stewards of His possessions.  As stewards, God expects us to make a profit on the “talents” with which He has entrusted us, yet this is not our primary responsibility.

Being a Christian Entrepreneur Requires a Calling

There are some who disagree with me that being a Christian Entrepreneur is a calling from God, but I firmly believe that unless God has planted those seeds in your heart and designed you with this purpose in mind that one will lose in the battle between the constant pulls to serve both mammon and God.

The warnings of succumbing to the love of money are dire in the Bible.  The rich young ruler who claimed to be perfect in following the commandments was turned away by Christ because he loved his possessions more than his Creator.  There were none that contradicted the young man’s claim so we can assume he was probably a very good man, but it takes more.

In The Lord of the Rings, it is said that Frodo did not choose to be the bearer of the ring but that he was chosen.  In the story, the ring held considerable sway over those who possessed it constantly pulling them towards its evil master – yet Frodo resisted above all.  It’s a great analogy for the Christian Entrepreneur and wealth.

Being a Christian Entrepreneur Requires a Recognition

Christian Entrepreneurs recognize that it all begins, ends, and consists with God.  It’s this recognition of His sovereignty that allows us to go left when He tells us despite all of our experience telling us we should be going right.

It is that unwavering trust that following His Word will always win out in the end.  It is the acceptance that He has unlimited resources at His disposal to bring about His will through us if we only don’t stand in His way.

This recognition is why we react differently we are wronged, when we are slandered, when we are not paid, how we treat our employees, how we think about our competitors, how we deal with our customers, and how we run our businesses.

So What is a Christian Entrepreneur?

Okay, I know.  You want a one sentence definition, right?  I guess if I had to sum it all up in one definition it would be something like this.

A sincere born-again follower of Jesus Christ who has been called and gifted to express the love of Christ and the glory of God through entrepreneurial ventures recognizing that they are mere stewards of the accumulation of wealth derived from such ventures and entrusted to use this wealth according to God’s good and perfect will following the teachings set forth in the Bible.

Wordy, no?  What would your one sentence definition of a Christian Entrepreneur be?  Let me know in the comments below.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne June 24, 2010 at 6:15 am

Fascinating. For me, a Jewish atheist Israeli, you have just provided an insight into American culture and even "psyche".
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Brad Harmon June 24, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I'm glad you found the post fascinating, but I wonder how many Americans actually share my views. I know many take offense when people say that America is no longer a Christian nation, but at the very least it seems to be Christian in name only. The American attitude towards business, productivity, and the accumulation of wealth is much different than the rest of the world. As a nation, we seem to value these higher than health, family, and spiritual well-being.

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Rita_Cartwright June 29, 2010 at 6:56 am

Congrats on your 100th post. It's great as usual. My definition of a Christian Entrepreneur is someone (a Christian) who uses their talents, treasures, and time to operate a business, in which God has place them as a steward, in a manner that will bring Him glory, as well as be a blessing to his or her community, nation, and world as a whole through that business.

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Brad Harmon June 29, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Thanks Rita. I honestly thought I would have hit the 100th post mark in January, but at least I am back on track now. It looks like our definitions are pretty similar.

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Scott Fountain December 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

Wow -I really enjoyed your articles and comments. I believe you are right on with the current situation in our country. We are buried in debt to keep the latest fashion in clothes and cars etc but cant give to tithes and missions or even to help someone in need, we will stand at a ballgame for hours but cant at church for 5 minutes,we will sit through through 2 and 3 hour @#$%^&*movies but cant sit in church for 1 , we spend more time reading,texting and talking, etc but never spend anytime in God`s Word or prayer. Sad – I have been guilty too

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Brad Harmon December 5, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Thanks Scott. I, too, have been guilty of the things you describe. It’s a struggle that we will likely deal with until Jesus comes back or we leave these corruptible bodies – whichever comes first. I don’t know if it has always been this bad, but one can certainly sense there is too much Christianity in name only being practiced in our country.
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Tony December 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

With respect, I think the article makes a simple concept more complex than it needs to be. But, I can understand, too, that — with the entire Christian community inundated with things like “The Purpose Driven Life” — there seems to exist some pressure today (that didn’t exist years ago) in making sure that every activity of one’s life has to be justified as “a way to glorify God”.

It smacks of piousness. If someone is a Christian and they want to open a shoe-store…..great! Sell shoes. Do it to the best of your ability. Exercise the proper ethics and honesty that everyone should exercise in business (regardless of their faith).

But, “called to sell shoes”? I think that mindset has more to do with the religious culture of the day than anything the Bible teaches about how Christians move in the marketplace.

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Brad Harmon December 5, 2010 at 3:30 pm

There’s a comic strip that I shared a while back called “How to Over-Spiritualize Everything” that makes the same point you make in your comments. We can, I can, have a tendency to make things sound more spiritual than they really are; however, we are also guilty of not realizing the spiritual significance in things that surround us because we consider it too mundane for God to care about.

I grew up under the teaching that your job was just something you went to pay the bills, to give to the church, and a place to proselytize. Be an honest, ethical businessman and that’s all God wants from you. That’s great, but it doesn’t sound like a God that has uniquely gifted each of us to accomplish His purposes.

In previous posts, I laid the Biblical foundation for why I believe God does call us to our vocations. In January, I will be writing a series of posts that delve much deeper into this notion of calling and explore the various callings that Paul teaches us about in the Bible – including our vocational calling. I think it will bring more clarity to this topic, and I look forward to your thoughts and feedback on it.

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Elah December 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I “THINK” what you are talking about is
Being a Christian Busninessman .
An Entrepreneur is different than a Businessman .
Richard Brampton is an Entrepreneur.
People may opererata a Business under him
But most of them are not Entrepreneurs.

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Laurie Neumann December 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Good post, Brad. I know it was written a while back, but I just came across it. To me, a Christian entrepreneur is one who runs their business to bring honor to God. It may be in the way they deal with customers, what they do with their money, offering quality products, etc. Everything they do, they do to the best of their ability, as it says in Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord aned not to men.”

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