God is a Lousy Business Partner

by Brad Harmon on March 24, 2010 in Entrepreneurs

God is a Lousy Business Partner | marketplace christianity

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Ask just about any seasoned entrepreneur about partnerships and they will tell you to avoid them like the plague.  It’s extremely rare to find partnerships that are successful and all of the partners are happy.

In Christian circles you hear a lot about partnering with God in your family, in your relationships, in your finances, and in your business.  Take the name of this blog for example, The Christian Entrepreneur.  Doesn’t that suggest an implicit partnership with God?  Surely we are able to avoid the problems inherent in a business partnership if God is our partner, right?  Sadly, no.

In fact, it will probably end up being worse.  You see, God just doesn’t make a very good business partner.  He’s actually a pretty lousy one.

The Traditional Problems with a Business Partnership

What is it about partnerships that make them such bad business models?  After all, in concept they seem like win-win situations.  Two or more people pool their resources, time, knowledge, and skills in pursuit of a shared vision.

In reality, what I have found true about partnerships is that they are full of inequities that lie beneath the surface causing an almost constant tension amongst the partners.

The inequities take on various forms, but can be narrowed down to the following:

  • The amount of capital put into the partnership
  • The degree of sweat equity put into the partnership
  • The distribution, use, and allocation of resources
  • The liabilities and exposure brought to the partnership

Certainly, there are many more factors that could be listed; however, let’s just focus on these.  Are you starting to see why God may not make such a good business partner?

Forming a Business Partnership with God

The first issue you run into is figuring out what exactly you bring to kitty.  There always seems to be some sort of inequity involved in formation capital for a partnership, but how much greater is that inequity when your partner is God?

16For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: 17And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17, King James Version)

There aren’t many entrepreneurs that are going to let you become their partners by putting up their resources as your stake in the partnership.  If you have no capital of your own to bring to the table, can you form a partnership?

He’s the Money and I’m the Brains

Okay, so God owns everything, but I can still bring the ideas and the sweat equity to the table.  Most of the partnerships I come across are this type.  One partner has the idea, or does all of the work, while the other puts up the funding.

These partnerships usually end up either bankrupt or the partner with the idea and sweat equity is bought/forced/squeezed out.

33O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (Romans 11:33-35, King James Version)

I’m afraid that when you try to make God your partner He trumps you here too.  There’s just nothing we can bring to the table to justify a partnership.

Here’s Your Sign

There’s a comedian named Bill Engvall who performs his act with the signature phrase, “Here’s your sign.”  He pokes fun at stupid questions we ask in light of an obvious situation.  Such as, pulling up to someone who’s car is on the side of the road with the hood up and smoke pouring out then asking, “You having car trouble?”  Here’s your sign.

Isn’t trying to make God our partner a little bit like that?  It’s like those bumper stickers that read “God is my Co-Pilot.”  Really?  If God is in the cockpit shouldn’t we just let Him have the controls?

I really wonder sometimes if God isn’t sitting back laughing at us while wearing one of those “I’m with stupid” t-shirts.  Why do we, as Christians, keep talking about God as if He were our equal?  We’re not even in His league.

The Christian Entrepreneur

Being a Christian entrepreneur does not mean that we are in partnership with God.  It means that we acknowledge that God is the source and owner of “our” business ventures.  We have simply formed an alliance with Him – a joint venture.

We recognize that we are His stewards.  We humbly accept that we can never be God’s equal while expressing our gratitude to Him for allowing us to become partakers.

God makes such a lousy business partner because He brings everything to the table making it impossible to form a partnership.  Until Christian entrepreneurs as a whole start embracing the enormity, majesty, holiness, and sovereignty of God we can never share in His vision for the business enterprises with which He has entrusted us.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

David@RLB March 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Wow. What a post. The modern church has made God a chum, a pal, a brother in arms. He's our friend, our confidant, our bowling buddy. The same applies to business. He's our Lord and we are His subjects. If we follow that prescription, we will succeed. Love your analysis!

David, Red Letter Believers
http://www.redletterbelievers.com
"Salt and Light"

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Brad Harmon March 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm

We've become quite adept at placing God in a box where we can control Him. The only problem is that what we have managed to put in the box is not God at all. There is some comfort I guess in being able to control your god, but at the same time what comfort could a god that can be controlled bring? By lowering God to the level of a partner, or by raising ourselves to His level, isn't this what we are doing?

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@krenee76 March 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Yeah, It's like what could we ever do that would even compare to what He does for us continually?
My recent post Church Newletter Fillers & Resources

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Brad Harmon March 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Exactly! I think the whole idea of partnering with God suggests that God is somehow in need of our help. What could we ever offer Him though? Great point.

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@stevegrossman March 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Eloquently and perfectly targeted post Brad. One of my favorite quotes applies, but only under the guidance of your council: "Prayer – a conversational relationship with God: the sort of relationship suited to friends who are mature personalities in a shared enterprise" – Dallas Willard. We are joined to him as stewards, which means we have a say, but only in light of His purpose and goals. Thanks for sharing.

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Brad Harmon March 27, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Thanks Steve. I like that. Today, we have a hard time relating to the idea of living under the reign of a king. Can you imagine how someone who Henry VIII befriended felt about their relationship? No matter how chummy Henry became with them you can bet that they never forgot who he was and their place in the relationship.

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Bradley J. Moore March 26, 2010 at 10:05 am

"God brings everything to the table"… I guess that sums it up nicely. I like the idea of a joint-venture rather than partnership. We have to do our part, but he is really in control. All of the time. And, thanks for the reminder – He is so much bigger than our little situations that seem so important to us.
My recent post What to Do When You Are Completely Overwhelmed at Work

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Brad Harmon March 27, 2010 at 6:42 pm

No problem. We definitely have a role to play in this relationship, but it is a "supporting" one. When we start thinking of God as a partner I think there is a real tendency for us to make Him smaller to fit that role. It's then that He ceases to be the God that brings everything to the table for us, and we throw off his easy burden for a much harder one of out own.

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@MichaelGHolmes April 6, 2010 at 12:21 am

Brad,

You make a good point! Personally I believe where more stewards with God than anything else. He brings everything to the table we need and He looks at us and says, "Run it! If you do good I'll give you more responsibility if you don't…you're fired!"

That doesn't seem like a good partnership to me!

But you are right when we let Him take the controls things seem to go much smoother!

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