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.